We might instinctively link it to something verbal and conversational while there are indeed many forms of expression that we are able to obtain. Those different ways of expression can help you understand the world and others better. 

I want to share my story. I majored in Fine Art in both undergraduate and graduate school in the U.S.. Believe it or not, the primary reason that I chose an art major was because I objected to talk and teamwork. As a foreign student who could barely speak English fluently, I felt a huge gap between myself and my surroundings due to the language barrier. Even though I am sensitive to new languages it was not easy to perfectly acquire as a mainly antisocial and introverted being.

I love art and I can draw well, but I never got trained professionally. What I imagined for being an artist was that they can create something amazing in their quiet studio without bothering to socialize or explain. Being tired of struggling with the new language and major exploration as I did, I believed that art is good for me.

Luckily, I did great in class and I proved my gift in art, but what freaked me out was the critique seminar where people had to talk and explain their work to the class. I was often the last few ones to share and could barely find appropriate words to say or explain myself convincingly. People still appreciated my art and I couldn’t enjoy the critique process until I was in graduate school. Thanks to those who were patient and respectful when I talked, I became more comfortable sharing my work and my thoughts.

There were many international students who were just like what I was and also inspired me to help and speak up. People might say it is not necessary for an artist to acquire a language ability. Indeed, art itself is a form of expression but I would always recommend artists to keep open to the outside world, and not shy away from communication in any form. 

Art is a way to express. As an art major student, what ultimately struck me was not just the power of art but rather the significance of language and communication. Born in China, I am interested in the Chinese language and writing. English as my second language gives me another tunnel of expression and offers me a new opportunity to know my culture and self-identity from different perspectives. The surprising truth that I found during my overseas study motivated me to explore more about language learning and cross-cultural communication. 

Moreover, I resumed my study of the Japanese language that I suspended years ago. I was interested in Japanese since I was in middle school. I started to learn on and off for fun and I was not obviously satisfied with what I have gained at that time especially after I traveled to Japan for a week. I wanted to seriously study later but after I came to the U.S. there was no Japanese class offered in my school.

I decided to resume my Japanese learning during my first year in graduate school when I was amazed by the power of language after gaining more sufficiency in English and I could not wait to explore more. I was definitely charmed by feeling different beings inside when I speak Mandarin Chinese, English, and Japanese. When I switch to different languages, my expression, tone, gesture, and manner will change accordingly to fit the specific culture. It could be a part of culture adaption but it is truly an incredible experience that I never had before.

Introverts are good observers. We are shy and prefer to be an outsider by watching and listening rather than expressing ourselves at the very beginning. It is a great way to acquire a language by gaining enough input in this way but we could be slow to output due to the hesitance to talk and communicate. It is necessary to push yourself a little bit if you want to achieve a sufficient level of your target language.

It took me a while to express myself in a comfortable way and improve my English and Japanese sufficiency by exposing myself to a native environment. If it is too hard to be the first one to start a talk then at least make sure you are involved and participating even in a light way by giving some ideas and thoughts (sometimes just facial expressions). If you are not a party lover like me, then lectures and culture exchange activities might be a good choice for you to physically participate outside language class. In addition, TV programs, news, and entertainment show can option for your leisure time. 

Last but not least. No matter how slow the process would be, you will head to a higher level as long as you cling to your passion and love, and the more forms of expression you acquire, the more you perceive.

Click the pic below to meet Eunice!