I (Marina) remember that when I was young-er-, still in high school, every time I could spot a tour guide working I could not resist. I used to sneak behind the group of people, all listening carefully to the source of knowledge in front of them, and pretending not be interested, pretending to be there by chance, I did try to listen instead.. and I could not understand a single word.
The feeling was a bit contradictory: disappointment and determination.
I wish I could understand and speak properly a foreign language, and so be able to communicate with people from other countries and cultures.
Not the easiest thing to do to my eyes. We were born in a Venetian family, Venice means Italy, which means that you grow up listening to, at most, one and a half languages: Italian and a dialect which correspond to your city or region.
In my opinion both equally important, Italian because it is the official language, is what we learn at school, and dialect because is part of you, of your every-day life.
Mum and dad at home used to express their emotions to us in Venetian dialect, was it to scold us or compliment us. I have always considered dialect as a language of feelings.
What I am saying is that when we were young there was no space for other languages, we studied some English at school, but just as basic grammar. Not enough.
The exam we took to obtain our qualification to work as tour guides required the knowledge of, at least, two foreign languages so we started to study by ourselves English and Spanish.
Helped and encouraged by our parents we travelled to USA and Latin America during the summer brake from high school, we did that for two years in a row. Yep, that was fun. Well, useful fun.
After high school we graduated from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice where we obtained a Second Cycle Degree Programme in History of Arts and Conservation of Artistic Heritage, 5 years in total. Our area of expertise is Medieval and Byzantine art history.
We both were fencers. Competitions? Yes, we even won few, both of us on national basis. Parents happy and proud, end of story. Just kidding.. it was rewarding, sports definitely help individual determination.
Currently we both practice Voga alla Veneta, which means rowing while standing up, exactly like a “gondoliere”.
Here is a link to watch me during a regatta (I am the first rower, suffering):