Ask @bryanfitzmartin:

What is the best way to learn a foreign language?

Since I am getting ready for starting my PhD, I know how to answer that perfectly. When you're studying something at the grad level, it's very different from high school.
When you don't know something in grad school, you're expected to "look it up" and not remember it. This is how we handle so much intellectual material all at once, because we are not expected to remember anything (we just look it up, that's how we're trained so we don't waste any time; we just look it up, use it, and then move on). Learning a language fluently is much harder, because, you can't look a word up -- if you're having a conversation, you can't stop and tell the person you need to look up the word "awesome" (for example). So learning a foreign language is much, much harder, even than grad school; so, the only real key is, practice, practice, practice. Trust me: sounds simple right? But there really is no other way. Years, and years of grad school will teach you that. But...wish me luck for my last degree (last ride). :-D

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What’s the coolest thing people can learn from you?

In all seriousness…one thing I’ve succeeded at tremendously in life over the years, more than I ever thought possible, is academics. So, if anyone ever asked about that, I would show them how to be a good scholar. It’s not so obvious when you’re young; or even in your 20s.

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If you were to change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Believe it or not, I actually don’t make changes. I disagree with our society that the “Self” is the most important element of life, and I think the idea of “self change” sets a bad example because it doesn't posit that what you can do for others, and exactly in reverse, what they can do for you, as a group, is the most important thing. If you’re so focused on “Self” that you need to make “changes” all the time (except if you have Schizophrenia or something like that) I feel that’s somewhat dangerous…

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What is the most important thing you have learned in life?

That people cannot and should not be able to do whatever they want. There needs to be some "force" within a society, though it can be very minor, that everyone has to follow that can provide a standard for how people should act. British politeness and Minnesota "Nice" are examples of that.

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