Pushing your boundaries


“Also on this side there are dreams.” Photo provided by Arnav Kumar

Arnav Kumar

Over the past summer, I had the distinct opportunity of attending the Virginia Governor’s Spanish Academy. Even after knowing that I had been admitted to this program after a rigorous application process, I still felt very insecure about attending the academy. Would I be able to survive without speaking English for three weeks? Could I go without my phone for that long? Despite these insecurities, I decided to attend the immersion program, and I couldn’t have been happier with my decision.

Over the course of the program, I learned a lot about the Spanish language and culture; however, and possibly most importantly, I connected with my peers on an intellectual level, so much to the point that we invented our own Spanish verb.

Our pride in an inane, non-existent word crafted out of our own mistake may appear lame on the surface level; however, our neologism created a life-long bond among us and was a true representation of our personalities. We were a bunch of quirky students who decided to spend three weeks of our summers without speaking any English or accessing the internet.

The pride that we took in “funccionir” was only a confirmation of what we already knew: we were nerds. However, what we did not know was that we would become inseparable after realizing that we all had the same esoteric sense of humor. My friends helped me understand myself by forcing me to accept who I was; they became a representation of the importance of letting myself speak—even in the subjunctive—without any inhibitions. They reminded me of my duty to be myself and to always openly pursue my creative ideas, no matter how wild and ambitious. While some might some say that our verb was a silly attempt at covering up our mistakes, only we know just how influential and comforting it came to be.

My advice to underclassmen: don’t be afraid to be nerdy or to try to new things. Always be yourself. Pushing yourself academically isn’t just about learning, but it is also about meeting people who you will have life-long bonds with.