Saturday, August 15, 2009

Blog 26: Thank goodness for the linga franca....

“Prosem, quelle heure est-il? Son las dos? Already? Gosh, it’s late. Danke schön."

This very well may have been a conversation I had last night. Let me break it down for you:

Prosem- Czech for “please” but is also used as “excuse me” or to get one’s attention.

Quelle heure est-il- French for “what time is it”

Son las dos- Spanish for “it’s two”

Already? Gosh, it’s late- if you don’t know what this one means, I cant help you…

Danke schön- German for thank you.

As I stood in a small circle last night chatting with a German girl, a French boy, and a Brazilian boy this is close to the conversation we had. Luckily, we all spoke English (the linga franca). (Sidenote: I prided myself on having the best English, no it’s not my native tongue or anything…yes, I take my small victories where I can get them.)

I have a love for foreign languages, which has only been intensified by coming here. The bits and pieces of languages that I do know have come out more than ever and I’m thirsty to learn more. In elementary school I took some French classes, in middle and high school I took Spanish classes, in college I took Italian classes, and here I am learning Czech. This yielded to be quite helpful when surrounded by my new friends. My German friend spoke German, English, and Dutch. My French friend spoke French, English, and Spanish. My Brazilian friend spoke Spanish and English. Yet somehow we all wound up in Prague. As we pieced together conversations in languages not our own, it was quite an experience. I was speaking French to the German and the Brazilian, while speaking Spanish to the Frenchman, and teaching them all a little bit of Czech, while learning some German. It was maybe one of the most amazing conversations I have ever had.

But isn’t that what being here is all about? Isn’t that why I picked up and moved half way around the world? To meet other kids like myself from all over the world who had the same thoughts. It has been quite an experience thus far, and I look forward to what’s to come! Unfortunately, all the kids I met last night were just traveling through Prague and are not here to stay. But now we have some friends in all corners of Europe and invitations to visit them whenever we please!

On a similar note, I know that I am a nosy person by nature. I am very curious as to what is going on around me, be it people or things in my surroundings. I am always curious as to how they got to where I encounter them, where they came from, where are they going, etc? This puts me in quite a predicament when I see two characters enter the metro car I am on, frantically discussing something I’m sure I would be very interested in, but I can’t understand them! Rude! Either I need to learn to be fluent in Czech quickly, or everyone needs to start gossiping in English.

I never realized how often I listen to people around me. It never struck me until I got here, so curious as to what was going on around me, but unable to know. It’s like everyone is talking in a secret language so I won’t be able to understand them. On the plus side, I do have a very active imagination and oh, the situations I imagine these people to be in! It’s better than daytime television. Let’s hope that curiosity won’t kill the cat...

My friend Nicole was only here for the month of July, and has since returned to California. She confided in our friend Carrie that it was actually quite overwhelming being home where everyone speaks English. After being unable to understand anyone, to be able to understand everyone is quite a change. I liken it to the scene in What Women Want where Mel Gibson can suddenly understand every woman’s thoughts and is overwhelmed when a cacophony of voices fills his head. I am curious to see what it will be like when I am suddenly immersed in this again. Maybe it will make me a less nosy person and I’ll learn to mind my own business… or maybe it will be great :)

Love love love from Prague!!

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