Photo Credit: Jasmine Mah-Innocenti

Questo è il settimo post di una serie da parte dei lettori che esplorano le loro ragioni per imparare l’italiano. Oggi vorrei farvi conoscere Jasmine Mah-Innocenti. Jasmine viene dalla Canada e ha seguito il suo cuore in Italia. Dice che il suo viaggio in Italia ha iniziato come tutte le belle storia—con un bel ragazzo italiano in pantaloni bianchi stretti stretti! Chi può biasimarla!? Ma ci vuole vero amore e una dedizione ad un’altra persona di lasciare la casa familiare per crearne una nuova in un paese straniero. Jasmine adesso vive a Bergamo ed è sposata con l’Italia e l’uomo affascinante dei pantaloni bianchi. Continuate a leggere per saperne di più della storia di Jasmine.

This is the seventh post in a series by readers highlighting their reasons for learning Italian. Today I would like to introduce to you Jasmine Mah-Innocenti. Jasmine is from Alberta Canada and has followed her heart to Italy. She says her journey to Il Bel Paese started out as all good stories do—with an Italian boy in tight white pants! Who can blame her? But it takes real love and dedication for another person to leave your home and family and create a new one in a foreign country. Jasmine now lives in Bergamo and is “married” to Italy and the fascinating man in white pants. Read on to find out more about Jasmine’s story!

I’m writing this sdraiata sul divano, laying down on the sofa, in the house that my wonderfully schizzinoso Italian husband decorated (and that my legendary mother-in-law gave her okay on of course). It’s a grey evening in Bergamo, Italy, my adopted home and I’ve just downed a family-size portion of my favorite pasta: linguine allo scoglio. Sometimes, I can’t decide whether I love the taste or just the way that the word “allo scoglio” rolls off the tongue. It’s literally delicious to say.

In the background, the news reporter of TG5 is droning on and I fail to notice at times, that I’m listening and comprehending the news in one language while writing in another. It happens during my morning commute when I’m no longer cognizant that I’m listening to the ITALIAN radio, it’s just the radio. I’m not perfect, nor do I believe that anyone can really truly be in a second language learned as an adult. But I would have never, in my wildest dreams thought I’d be here.

Photo Credit: Jasmine Mah-Innocenti

I met my fate one night in Canada when I took a picture with a beautiful stranger in white jeans and gold chains. We got married in Canada in September, amongst our closest friends and family from two countries, saying our vows in two different languages (our bilingual libretto, mass program, is a crowning glory on my shelf of accomplishments).

But I suppose the question is what’s the spark that ignites one North American expat’s fire for the Italian language versus the other half that learns enough “to get by”?

Photo Credit: Jasmine Mah-Innocenti

I can pinpoint the moment when I made a promise to myself to learn and not just learn, but love Italian. It was when I came to Italy the first time after my now-husband had moved back. I stayed with his parents who didn’t speak a word of English (still true to this day). What I felt during this stay was no shame or embarrassment or frustration even…no, it was a sense of wonderment and of curiosity.

I wanted to know the people that had raised the one human being that I had fallen head over heels in love with. These two smiling strangers who brought up the person that I was willing to throw it all away for a life in Canada that my immigrant grandparents had worked so hard for, the familiar streets of my hometown, friends and family, and even the white pharmacist’s coat after a mere two years of practice and a mere seven years of university education. I wanted to know them, not superficially in the way you can through constant gestures, each time hoping that the integrity of your words and intentions come across by whoever was acting as a translator at the moment.

Photo Credit: Jasmine Mah-Innocenti

And so the quest to form a relationship with my in-laws is what spurred me on through community courses, private lessons, and eventually running like a true “studentessa matta” from a pharmacokinetics lecture across campus to my Italian lessons at the same university. I still feel like that crazy student despite all the time that has passed and the fact that I live in Italy.

Photo Credit: Jasmine Mah-Innocenti

I still carry around my little vocabulary book, battered and falling apart, flipping through its dog-eared pages at stoplights or frantically scribbling a modo di dire immediately after hearing it spoken by a colleague. For fellow lovers of Italian, I know you’ll agree that this is a never-ending love affair and an authentic one at that because it is certainly not all rainbows and roses. Italian and I fight like lovers, she hates my untrained tongue that can’t roll the R or stress the double consonants and at times leaves me a bumbling mess. But I always come back for more. Oh and as for my suoceri, I know them all too well now given that we eat with them at least twice a week…! I guess there would be a saying for that too: Hai voluto la bicicletta? Ora pedala!

Brava Jasmine! Your story is so lovely and inspiring. Complimenti for your dedication and passion and willingness to embrace Italy and the Italian language. You can find Jasmine on her blog at www.QuestaDolceVita.com . I think Jasmine and I are anime gemelle – we both are advocates of continuous language learning and keeping lots and lots of notebooks to jot down words.

I love that she wrote this in a recent article on her blog about learning Italian: “The dreaded question asked of expats is “so are you fluent yet?”. I think this is the dumbest question. If you’ve moved to a foreign country as an adult and learned a second language, I just don’t think fluency should be the goal. People should ask instead about how you feel about a language.”

Proprio così! Brava!!!

If you have a story to share, please send it my way. I’d love to feature you and your love for Italy and the Italian language. Send a message to Melissa@studentessamatta.com I look forward to hearing from you!

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  1. What a warmhearted story and I had to laugh at the double-consonant stress – something that is so obvious to an Italian, but somehow so tough for we non-native speakers to pull off…

  2. Years ago, when I was studying Italian, we had an assignment to write a short essay in Italian. As a surprise, some visiting Italians, from Italy, were invited to hear each student read his or her paper aloud. Well, I used the word, anno in my piece, but in reading it, I spoke it as ano. I don’t need to tell you that it brought the house down. So much so that there were tears of laughter in the eyes of the Italians!

    I became an instant celebrity. I’m still in touch with them and I visit them when I’ve been in Italy. It was just a fluke but it led to lasting friendships. In one way, I’m glad that I made the error in pronouncing the word.

    Love to you, Marianne (Keep up your good work!)

  3. Cara Melissa,

    I am so happy to have found your site. I am enjoying studying Italian more than I can say.

    I know I will never be anywhere near fluent, but my studies have introduced me to such wonderful people of all ages. Many are young, but one woman in my class is in her 90’s. We all share such a love for the language, and for everything Italian.

    I was lucky enough to study at the Lucca Italian School several years ago when Angelo, Daniella and Eva were just starting out. It was a wonderful adventure, and I will be returning there this fall with several of my cousins.

    I look forward to following you, and all of Le Studentesse Matte.

    1. Ciao Marlene! Sono contenta di conoscerti! I am very happy to know you and am glad you have discovered the Matta Blog. I feel exactly the same way…the study of Italian language has introduced me to many many wonderful people!

      So you know Lucca Italian school! Fantastico! Angelo, Daniela, Eva and Antonella are great friends …and the reason I return there every year with groups of language learners! We always have lovely time.

      I hope you stop by frequently and leave a comment. It is a great way to practice and Italian! A presto! Ci sentiamo!