The very first CD that I bought with my first earned money was the Laundry Service Album from Shakira. It was 2001 and my sister and I analysed every beat on the album and observed every move she made in her videoclips. She made having a lot of curls look cool, but more than that: there was something magical about the way she moved her hips and the fluidity of her belly, that made me and my sister estatic.

I remember I was sitting in my parents’ couch one day watching Shakira being interviewed on MTV to talk about her new album on live television, in which she explained how her dad learned her the art of Arabic belly dancing – a part of her Lebanese heritage – by trying to flip a coin on her belly. Learning to dance like this has been a way for her to overcome her shyness. I mean, I didn’t know how fast I had to find a coin myself.

Life as a singer and dancer – let alone one of a belly dancer – didn’t turn out my destiny.

However, it instilled in me the idea that I wanted to become part of the spanish culture –

with all it’s richness when it comes to travelling, food and art has never fully left me.

Language, the connecting vein of a culture – allows you to experience that culture in a much deeper and more profound way. I’ve found that the intricacies of a culture emerge through how people express themselves more than anything else. There’s no better way to learn about a foreign culture than engaging in conversations with locals.

On my bookshelf:

[novelist-books columns=”4″ number=”3″]


Today is a special day. On February 2022 I started as a beginner and today, April 2023 I received my diploma Spanish language from the University of Amsterdam. Meaning that I’m fluent in speaking now.

It was a long ride and most of it was extremely fulfilling and exciting. Special thanks to my teacher Mila, who have been with me since the start.

150 150 Lisanne Swart
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