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Inspiration

Full Immersion

Have you ever studied a new language? Most people learn a language at school (or at least, they try to learn it). They may study it for months or years, and still they are not fluent. 

When I was 16, I went to China for a student exchange programme that lasted for a year. As soon as I found out that I had been accepted (in January), I started studying some Chinese in order to get ready to live in China. 

When I got there, I realised that everything I had learned, all the hours I had spent and the energy I had put in were not enough to allow people to understand me, even for the basic, everyday life communications. 

This was very frustrating. 

Then, after a month in which I was there, I was fluent.

What happened? 

‘Obviously, you lived there’, someone may be thinking. Yes, but that wouldn’t have been enough on its own. I know a lot of people who go abroad for a month and they don’t come back saying any more than a few phrases in the language.

The difference is that I had a proper full immersion experience.

When we learn a new language through a full immersion experience, the result is much higher that the result we would have by studying the same amount of hours spreading them out. 

The same principle applies to any other skill. When we try to learn it by focusing on it once every 3-4 days, we are missing out on the full immersion experience, which will program our mind to be receptive to any new information that will help us excel. There is one more thing to keep in mind though. 

Not every full immersion experience will be as effective. Think about the example we made earlier. John may have gone to France for a month and not become fluent in French. 

Why?

There are some characteristics that make a full immersion experience a success or a failure.

1) DOLBY SURROUND PRINCIPLE

For a full immersion to be effective, you need to be completely surrounded by what you want to learn. If I had gone to China with some friends and I had spent time speaking in Italian or English with them, my Chinese level wouldn’t have improved that quickly.

I surrounded myself with Chinese people, Chinese newspapers, Chinese signs, Chinese TV, Chinese radio, Chinese food (that may help too!). 

My mind was constantly bombarded by stimuli that allowed me to absorb more information. Depending on how hard that new skill is, prepare yourself because you may feel very tired at the end of the day. But both unconsciously and consciously, your mind will have created new neural connections that will make you feel less and less tired when subjected to the same stimuli.

2) FOCUS

If you start an experience and you live it passively, you won’t take much out of it. When you are there, you must keep your focus high on learning, asking questions, interacting

3) MENTORS

Everything we talked about last week will be very important also during your full immersion experience. Making sure that you have someone ready to guide you and direct you will help you make the most out of your experience.

4) WILLING TO TRY

Be ready to go out of your comfort zone, because everything you still need to learn is necessarily outside of your comfort zone (this will be the topic of another email; for now, trust me on this). There will be some moments in which you will be tempted to choose the easiest choice rather than the one that will allow you to learn the most. That’s when you need to remember that the only way to learn is to be willing to step out of your comfort zone.

Every new skill will be easier to acquire if it comes with a full immersion experience, at least for part of it. According to the kind of skill, the length of the full immersion will differ. At times it will be a day or two, at times it may be a month or even a year. But make sure that your full immersion has those four characteristics and that experience will become a springboard for all the results you want to achieve.


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