Fear of change.

Intimidating. Imposing. Daunting. Impossible, even. That’s how I feel looking at the borders of another country, of a place where the syllables they utter from their throats are a different kind than mine. I’m a very “comfort zone” centric person. I’m not opposed to change, but change doesn’t often accommodate me by coming slowly and with a lot of warning. Change kind of whirls around and sucker punches me when I’m not looking, and that shit scares me.  How do we eliminate fear? Well, we can’t completely. But we’re frightened of something we don’t understand. I don’t understand a lot of cultures that are different from our own. For my independent learning project, I’m gonna try to get rid of some of that fear.


Photo CC -by Nomadic Lass, and a great still shot of “fear”

I’ve wanted to learn another language for awhile. Particularly one I could actually use around this area. It’s always impressive to me when someone can just jump between language, and it feels like it’s all a big club I’m not part of.

Luckily, I have a girlfriend who happened to spend a year of her life in China. I’ve heard that Mandarin is one of the most difficult languages to get a hang of, since it’s largely character based in its written form. And to boot, she wants to be a teacher for a living. See where I’m going with this?

I’ll be honest, if I was choosing languages to learn, I don’t think I’d choose Mandarin first. I probably would have chosen French or Spanish due to their localized practicalities, but I can’t really beat the convenience of living with my teacher in that instance (wow that sounded wrong I apologize).

But, Chinese culture is a wide-reaching one. Most major U.S. cities have a Chinatown district. Speaking Mandarin would open up another corner of the world for me, plus another slew of employment opportunities. Not to mention it’d be kind of fun to be able to maintain secret conversation with said girlfriend. I can see the looks of confusion coming from people around us when two of the whitest people ever start speaking an Oriental language. Doesn’t that thought make you chuckle?


Photo CC-by Jonathan Kos-Read

So, we’re gonna give it a whirl. I’m gonna try to read, write, and speak Mandarin. Everyone keep Tristen Hust in their thoughts, ’cause she’s gonna need some luck for this one.

Also, this:


  1. tristyfishy says:

    ❤ You'll make a great guinea pig of a student.

  2. This is a terrific project! A bit daunting too. Last semester, Analiese Garland studied Japanese for her #diglitclass learning project and found a lot of terrific free resources online.

  3. Sarah Cline says:

    So glad Tristan posted, or I would have had to get all nosy to confirm my suspicions! (Not that I would say anything about it, just wonder…) Have fun, you guys!

  4. kaylahall02 says:

    I have to begin by saying that I love how you write, the way you word ideas is just incredible. Change is scary but it is also an opportunity to grow! Just be patient and I think this will be something you learn to really like. Good luck!

    • jamcfarland says:

      Thank you very much! I’d like to make a profession out of writing (or at least, I think I’d like to), so I do my best.

      I’m hoping this is something I’ll enjoy. No guarantees – but I am interested.

  5. Brave soul you are! But sounds like so much fun! Also, I really liked the video you posted as well! Good luck to you both!

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