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Seven Languages at The Age of 17
Dec 19, 2021

This article shares the fascinating story of a teenage girl who set off on her voyage to learn different languages beginning at an incredibly young age.

Sarina Schroff, now 17 years old, is a Swiss teenager who is full of life, goes to the gym regularly, enjoys spending time with family and friends, loves to cook yummy meals, and dedicates a significant amount of time to her passion (and now, talent): the art of learning different languages.

Read on to learn how she stumbled upon this passion and where it has taken her.

Where does the inspiration lie?

How often do we come across something but fail to immediately recognize its essence until it becomes all that we were seeking in the first place?

Sarina got hooked on something that went on to completely change her life. Born out of her experience in gymnasiums and then plunging into fashion, Sarina discovered a life-altering desire: to learn various worldwide languages.

As unusual as it may sound, one never truly knows where inspiration may lie. For Sir Isaac Newton, this took the form of a humble apple that helped him unravel mysteries regarding laws of the universe. For Sarina, it was fashion.

So, what happened exactly?

Four years ago when Sarina was 13 years old, she began to discern that varied cultures and fashion trends intrigued her—ultimately feeding her passion to learn new languages. Moreover, going to school (Kantonsschule) served as the inspiration that solidified her decision to engage in bilingual language classes and to become interested in French thanks to the enthusiasm of her teacher.  

To her, learning different languages was like exploring various cultures through fashion and the related languages spoken within that distinct culture.  As additional courses were introduced in her later years of schooling, including subjects such as Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, she became even more drawn toward developing correlated language skills. That's why she wrote her Matura paper (thesis of approximately 60 pages) in all the languages ​​she already knows and additionally taught herself Italian.

The Beginning Is Always the Tricky Part

The journey to success is never easy. In fact, it’s the beginning of said journey that is often the most challenging part, as it requires you to get a firm hold of yourself from the very onset. In the absence of this determination, you may collapse in the face of any struggles early on.

The beginning isn’t just tricky, but it can surprise us too. Things that you perhaps didn’t anticipate can arise at any moment, shaking you to your very core. During these crucial times, two essential things happen:

  1. Life shoves some new insecurities into your face.
  2. Or, you face insecurities and strengths you never knew existed before.

Sarina, too, faced similar circumstances in light of new insecurities.

During her course of study, she discovered that she could speak quite well and that her speech flowed nicely. Nonetheless, she always felt insecure when speaking a foreign language in the presence of a native speaker.

However, this went on to come through as a defining situation. Knowing she shouldn’t feel that way, she convinced herself to overcome her insecurities and pressed on in her journey to learn more languages. This is why today she is known as a girl who speaks seven languages at the age of 17.

How We Plan It vs. How It Goes

Our journey takes us where we are meant to be, not where we plan to be. This is why most of us face an unintended fate as life tends to swing in a direction designed by destiny.

Perhaps you dreamed of becoming a pilot when you grew up and wound up as an artist: your true calling. Sarina herself didn't plan to become a linguist—she had always dreamed of a career in law.

Thus, while learning about law, Sarina was inadvertently introduced to an entirely new path: the art of learning different languages. Her perspective on life began to change.

No One Said It Would Be Easy

Life is never a bed of roses. Instead, one must work hard to enjoy a few priceless moments of joy in between, and the road to success is paved with hardship and difficulty.

Your path becomes even more challenging when you buckle up to pursue your dreams, as life has its own ways of testing one’s devotion to what he or she strives for. Difficulties come in many shapes and sizes. For some, the obstacle may be money. For others, it’s perhaps family or societal pressure. In Sarina's case, it was time management.

Sarina often stumbled into phases wherein she was unable to quench her thirst for learning new languages, as she was forced to attend to a variety of other unrelated needs instead.

For example, while studying Italian, Sarina became preoccupied with visiting the gym three to five days a week, attending parties with friends, spending time with family, and going to school and working.

At one point, Sarina faced the depressing thought that she would never learn Italian at all. Nonetheless, she realized that consistency is key.

As long as you stick to what you are striving for, dedicating even five minutes a day while traveling by train, for example, you can keep working toward your particular goal.

Maybe it’s time to quit?

In working toward a particular goal, how many times do we tell ourselves that it’s time to give up? We all come across moments of weakness wherein all we can think about is the possibility of quitting.

These are moments when we lose the battle while facing challenges life throws our way. Unfortunately, however, lost opportunities during these moments sometimes go on to become our worst regrets.

At one point, learning Russian seemed meaningless since Sarina could not find one good reason to study this language. While sorting through this dilemma, she was baffled by other trials and tribulations she was forced to address at the very same moment.

It is understandable to encounter moments of weakness when you’re likely to give up—and later, comfort yourself knowing that life gives second chances. Now, Sarina yearns to give everything she can to learn Russian, as she was unable to do so before.

You Never Know How Far You Can Go Unless You Push Yourself Further

While we may tell ourselves that it is beyond our capabilities to achieve something, there is irony in the fact that we will never reach our true potential unless truly pushed to our limits. We may even anticipate a point where we might likely stop. As a matter of fact, these plans to quit may serve as a new beginning.

Sarina never thought she would get this far in her journey to learn new languages. As a child, this type of study was limited to academics. In the years that followed, there were moments when she would tell herself this was her sole goal in life and that sooner or later, the hard work would pay off. She was quite right.

Patting Yourself on The Back

While some of us need words of appreciation and encouragement, others are born with ambitions and therefore supply their own motivation. Sarina falls into the latter group, with big goals to achieve.

As her own personal motivator, if something intrigues Sarina and ignites a spark of passion, she will always go the extra mile to achieve it.

Moreover, Sarina is a perfectionist who lives by the motto ‘all or nothing.’ This helps keep her relentless spirits high, always maintaining her focus on set goals.

Learning Languages to Study Cultures

When we learn to speak varied languages, we enjoy the ability to better understand corresponding cultures. As a result, we cultivate empathy, tolerance, and acceptance for others who are not like us.

Learning foreign languages makes us better communicators and helps to broaden our outlook on other cultures, communities, and ethnicities—a key motivator driving Sarina’s dedication to language study.

Sarina Schroff has come a long way since discovering her love for learning languages. She believes that as she learns to speak and understand languages from different parts of the world, she develops a better understanding of humanity as a whole. Language study ultimately helps forge bonds with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

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