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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood!

      It's tough to learn a new language.  I had my first French lesson on Monday with a lovely young man named Betrand.  He's awesome and friendly and I get to spend 90 minutes with him twice a week.  My first placement interview placed me at "survivor French" but Betrand said I was more advanced so we played this board game in which I had to read and answer a question in French and when it was Betrand's turn, he answered.  Questions like "what would you do with a million Euros"  or "what do plan on doing for your vacation"(only in French, of course).  Simple enough.  Mais non!   I felt like I'd run a marathon at the end of the session.  It was exhausting. 
    This school's philosophy is that we learn languages best as a child so they don't stress a lot of grammar, vocab lists, conjugation or writing at first.  You just pick it up.  I think it's a good method because it forces you to speak and it's great in the class where Betrand knows I'm a beginner, but I'm still at a loss when it comes to chatting with people on the street.
    A very nicely-dressed lady asked me if I knew which tram went where (and I do, yay!), but I couldn't answer her in French.  Of course, she spoke English.  That's going to be a problem because when I try to belch out my French words, I immediately get answered in English. 
    Plus there are two other official languages, Flemish (Dutch) and German.  And I hear every European language spoken around me. 
     Even worse is the confusion I had with English speakers...a British couple I met at a business dinner with Brett.  Besides the linguistic differences, the couple (Gwynne and Una) took their golden retriever, Tess, with them to dinner.  Tess is lovely (nice name, huh?), but she is clearly a very pampered doggie.  She has her own place in the back of the car, her special diet and a ramp to get out of the car because she has a bad back.  She was perfect in the restaurant--no barking, whining, peeing, etc., though she did steal a few spilled frites that came her way.   (Martha and Kevin, next time we go out, we should take Lola and Stella.)   But back to the language issues.  I commented that the weather was really wet and gloomy.  Una said, "I know, it's terrible.  It's usually much colder."  Say what?  Next, we asked about a restaurant in Leuven.  "Is it good?" I asked.  "It's meant to be." she said.  "Oh, so it has a good reputation but isn't really good."  "No," said Una. "It's meant to be good."  Ummm, okay, I guess.
 We finally got around to uploading some pictures that go with last month's blog entries. I'll see if I can post them, but the blog instructions are in freaking Flemish because of our IP address, I guess? So wish me luck.

Leaving Lawrenceville...note the smoker all wrapped up for it's trip across the ocean.

Our house house...I miss it.  Miss my friends and family more.
Moving in!! Note Ikea boxes, tools and general chaos. 
The VERY tight spaces our movers squished into.  Big truck--teeny driveway, but apparently, it's okay to park and drive on the sidewalk.  I know I'm going to get PTSD from riding around here.  We've seen several accidents and one pedestrian run over!!!

Our wonderful, intrepid and very strong movers!!  Robin and Jean-Francois (Jeff, for short) were very impressive.  The two of them ran our furniture up four flights of stairs.  We treated them to breakfast, lunch and beer.  Plus a decent tip.

    Ready to go out.  Note the Church of St. Job (and not the porta-potty) in the background.


  1. Loved these pics...hope to see more soon! Love and miss you!

  2. What?! You saw a pedestrian run over? Yikes.
    And the pictures look nice. The house looks like chaos but I know it won't for long.