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Showing posts from April, 2018

One step forward, two steps back

Some days, words in your new language tumble effortlessly out of your mouth. You chatter away confidently, amazed at your progress and delighted by your ability to hold a conversation . Your questions make sense and the person you’re talking to hasn’t made any strange faces or asked you to explain what you mean. Other days, it seems you’ve used the words “could you say that again?” a million times. Someone asks you a question and there’s a long pause before your answer finally arrives - slow, disorganised, grammatically incorrect and with terrible pronunciation. Then there are the times you didn’t even understand the question, but you can’t ask them to repeat it for a third time, so you nod your head and hope for the best . At times, it can be difficult to convince native speakers that you are an intelligent adult when you sound like a 3 year-old! “I’m smart! I know things! It’s just a bad language day, really!” You feel like saying. It’s a humbling experience w

100 channels and nothing to watch

The first time I moved abroad, I caught a plane to Paris, wrestled with my suitcase in the metro to get to Montparnasse station where I took a TGV (train) to Nantes, then got on a tram before finally locating my hotel using a map I had printed a few days earlier. It had been a long journey, so instead of investigating my new town, I flopped onto my bed and switched on the TV. A film was just starting. I’d seen it before, but after such a tiring day I was happy to lie back and let 90 relaxing minutes roll by. In fact, I was more than happy, I was relieved ! I grabbed the remote control and turned up the volume. Julia Roberts stood there talking at me …. in French. And it finally hit me that life was going to be a little different for a while! Whenever I switch on the TV these days in Germany, I expect not to understand what is happening (but I still turn up the volume!). We all know that watching TV shows in a foreign language can be great practice, but it’s hard to b

Where there's a will, there's a way

Today is Tuesday and that is bread day! Well, bread and apricot tart day, to be exact. Tuesday is bread day since the bread that I eat has to be gluten free and this is the only day of the week when I can buy it fresh. You may have had the misfortune of eating gluten-free bread. Bread lovers will insist that it is not real bread at all. And let’s be honest, it doesn’t taste like real bread. But every Tuesday I make my way to a local organic bakery that supplies me with delicious, fresh gluten-free bread, and, when I feel like a treat,  apricot tarts! Since I’ve been going to this bakery every week since moving to Germany, the friendly women who work there know me and before I can say ‘Guten Tag’ one of them disappears in search of my bread (and apricot tarts) at the back of the shop. Sometimes I’ll have a quick chat with the lady serving me and it struck me last time I went there how different our conversation was compared to my first visit. The