Is Mathematics far from English?
It is a worldwide known fact that children are deeply influenced by what they see and experience during their early years. This is true to such an extent that, most of the times, these first years determine their lives. In this sense, the people surrounding them play an active role in the way children develop.
As one of them, I was influenced by those who surrounded me. And the fact that I finally decided to enter English Studies was the result of both a series of events and of the effect some people I knew had on me.
All through my childhood, there was a presence which inspired me deeply. It was the paternal figure of my uncle, Paco. He was, in those days, a young University student, engaged in the study of Mathematics. He was, and still is, a tall man with broad-sized shoulders, dark eyes and dark hair: a typical Spanish beau.
While I was spending my time in those things which children tend to do, I received from him a constant flow of information about the ‘University World’ and about the importance of being well-prepared for the future. I could also face the pressure he suffered, a fact which I am now more able to understand.
As time passed, and I grew up, I became increasingly fond of the idea of studying a degree. ‘It is something’, he said, ‘you should begin to think of’. And, in fact, I did think of it. You will not face much trouble in guessing what degree was I thinking of, will you? Of course, I decided it would be a great idea to study Mathematics.
As I understand it now, about fifteen years later, this man represented an important figure in my life. He was the person I venerated and worshipped most. And so, as an inevitable consequence, I wanted to imitate him. Luckily he was not a thug!
But then, in addition to the basic influence my uncle had on me, two important events took place in my life. On the one hand, I began attending private tuition for English language. My teacher was a young, recently-graduated woman. She was very nice, and transmitted me her interest and knowledge about the English language. During this period, I learned a lot and I also discovered a new hobby: I liked trying to speak in English as well as learning its grammar.
From my point of view, this could not have been possible without me being interested in the new language. However, I left, and still leave, all the merit to her because she knew how to share her enthusiasm as well as her knowledge.
Another woman, totally opposed to the previous English teacher, was the responsible for the second important event which definitely changed the fate of my future. Thanks to a not-very-inspiring Mathematics teacher, a deep hate for the subject appeared in me. During that fatal academic year, this negative feeling seized me and grew worse and worse lesson after lesson. Then, when the end of the year came, I failed the subject being thus so frustrated that I even considered leaving High School.
It was in this very moment when I made up my mind: I would go to University but, instead of Mathematics, I would choose English Studies. A bit of a change, isn’t it? Of course it was! Everyone around me was highly surprised because of my decision. Even I was surprised and, at the same time, relieved. Finally, I had both thrown away my frustration related to Mathematics and decided on my future.
A few years later, I finally entered my beloved degree. I would not be sincere if I said that it seemed very easy to me at the beginning. On the contrary, my first year at the University was a bit of a mess: I did not find my place nor an effective working system. Someone could argue that I have not found it yet. However, I am on my last year and I hope I will finish my degree, and a mención in Catalan Studies, in June.
I can think of it more clearly now: as a child, everyone is interested in different things. But, do we develop ourselves? Definitely not. All of us are influenced by the people we admire. The opinion of a venerated uncle, as in my case, or an important teacher’s advice may have the grip to change anyone’s future.