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Israel and the Balkans: getting ready for the summer

The summer is nearly upon us, and that means that we’re in for an exciting few months on RawLangs. You may have noticed that technically this is a “Language and Travel” blog, and you may wondering why we’ve had a lot of posts about the first, but not so much about the second.

We’ve had a heavy year so far on the language front. Amongst others we’ve been trying to work out what fluency is, whether languages change the way we think, how languages can have political implicationshow we learn languages, how we do that without trying, and then how we learn languages again, and now it might be time for us to take a little break. Over the next few months we’re going to focus on enjoying what I think is the greatest reward that learning languages can offer you. We’re going travelling!

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This weekend I’m heading off to Tel Aviv for a month to do an intensive Yiddish language course at the university. I’ve been to Israel before, but this will be the longest period of time that I will have spent there. I love travelling to Israel because it’s such an exciting place to visit, full of contradictions and eccentricities and falafel and stunning landscapes, and I’m looking forwards to bringing some of that to you via this page.

A brief disclaimer though: blogging about Israel can sometimes be like wading into extremely murky water. I’d like to make clear that I have no personal connections to the political situation in the Middle East, so really I am just the guy sitting right up on the fence eating hummus. None of my posts will be at all politically motivated, and will all be written from my personal point of view as a complete outsider.

After Israel I’m setting off for a really exciting trip. For 4 weeks I’m travelling with a friend from Zagreb to Istanbul, via Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia (Republic of) and Greece. I’m hoping to come back with a passport full of stamps, stories, and plenty of pictures, all of which I’ll try to share on here!

So 2013 is turning out to be quite a busy summer. But wait, some of you may ask. What about the language side of things? You may remember this particularly optimistic post in which I vowed to start learning all these languages in preparation for this trip. How is that coming along?

Unfortunately life very much got in the way in this instance. While I’m still doing my degree, my plate is very full. I’m having to really work on my German, Russian and Yiddish in preparation for my final exams next year. However, I’ve got some more breathing space now and I’m going to have a go. I’m going to have to perform an emergency in-flight revival operation on my Hebrew this weekend (luckily its a 5 and a half hour flight from London), and after that I’ll still have another 5 weeks to make a good stab at BCS, and some Türkçe. The challenge is on!

And apart from blogging, I’m also planning to use this time to make some cool videos. I’ve got some ideas going, and you’ll have to stay tuned for more…

Make sure you stay in touch with my travels by subscribing to the RawLangs mailing list, following me on Twitter, or connecting with me on Facebook. I always love hearing your questions and comments so please feel free to contact me as well. I’ve had a lot of really interesting emails recently but I haven’t had a chance to reply to them. I promise that I will now that term is over.

See you in Tel Aviv!

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