A student tells the tale of the enchanting years she has spent in BYUs foreign-language housing.
¡Hola! Privyet! Wie gehts? Nestled away in a forgotten corner past Deseret Towers Field lies a small apartment complex unlike any other at BYU. A stroll through its simple corridors becomes a journey from Japan to Italy. Self-contained in its circular construction, the Foreign Language Student Residence (FLSR) forms a private little world where you can study just about any tongue, ranging from the more familiar Spanish and French to the baffling (to me) conglomerates of sound called Chinese and Arabic.
This international microcosm does have its dangers. If you tarry too long, you may feel the need for remedial English classes; for while Italian and Russian are spoken, English is not.
Located directly across from the linguistic mecca of the Missionary Training Center, many FLSR residents harbor a secret yearning to return to those walls, where only those with nametags may enter to learn. On the other side, the FLSR is not only surrounded by Wymount, the sprawling married student housing complex, but also has a prime view of the ultimate symbol of all eternal goals, the temple. Who can blame the FLSR for its fortress-like construction? We language lovers are trapped between worlds, unable to return to our missions, where many love affairs with languages began, yet still waiting for princes and princesses to whisk us off to the bliss of Wymount on gallant white steeds.
Given the precarious location, many residents of the language houses have simply decided to stay put and hold their ground, preferring to learn yet another language than to move out into the world beyond. This tradition of house hopping has created an unusual phenomenon where it is quite common for residents to speak three or four languages yet impossibly rare to speak only one. When I first moved into foreign language housing and met these house hoppers, I quickly categorized them as really weird and promised myself that I would never do the same.
Four years later Im still living in the FLSR, having hopped from German to Spanish. Somehow I have been caught. Perhaps it was feasting on borsch at the Russian ward dinner, attempting to dance the flamenco, or munching popcorn over foreign films without subtitles. Maybe it was hearing the sacrament blessed in Portuguese, cracking jokes in Spanish at dinner every night, or actually getting the chance to use my Austrian dirndl. Most likely it has been the giggly delight of chatting with friends from dozens of different states, countries, and backgrounds, each bringing a wealth of experience.
Whatever the cause, my initial infatuation with languages has been replaced by a deeper love and understanding of cultures from all over the globe. My experience living in the FLSR has inspired me to expand my personal horizons by studying abroad in Zimbabwe, serving a mission among the Vietnamese, and volunteering in Peru. And yet after every voyage, I come back to the Haus I now call home to share and learn some more.
Despite its defensive construction, the FLSR is not keeping the world out but inviting it in. In all honesty, I would love to stay here forever, but it is time for me to embark on a new voyage now. Much to my enchanted surprise, I have finally found my princea fellow house hopper in the notoriously romantic French house. And although he may not have a gallant steed or shining armor, I am looking forward to being whisked away to the bliss of Wymount, where we hope to live happily ever after.