Saturday, 7 July 2007

Quietly Insane

Okay- yes I'm on holiday in Europe and it is summer, although you wouldn't know it by the cool weather... but today was perhaps not my best day...

I'm sitting here in the French countryside with an internet connection I can run faster than (when I can get to the pc in the first place), having spent a day in conversations where I was mostly sitting through quietly watching people speak and wondering what they were saying and why the hell I can't speak French yet. The days can go REALLY REALLY slowly... I know the people I am meeting with are delightful, and I do get knowing looks from those who do understand my predicament when they see me staring into the distance, having concentrated as long as I can on the French that at times seems so close yet today so far away... I have redesigned the rooms I have sat in, I have painted pictures of the people I am with, planned my life until it's end - all in my head, I even visualised a massage for my back - sore from the running I have been doing in lieu of swimming, as distant to me now as my pathetic French.


I have taken photos, I have fed babies (well, my neborn nephew) even burped him and walked him...

But I'm a communicator, not a wallflower. SPEAK TO ME!!! (in English please, I just feel stupid in French)


Anyone recognise this?

7 comments:

Queergedacht said...

There are only a few people in french who speak english. And they do it very bad. Seems they are not interested.

Anonymous said...

France is great, but without the French it would be far better...
[sorry Sylvain]

Trevor said...

The French people aren't the problem and I don't expect them to speak English for me (though it would be nice). When I travel I don't expect everyone to speak English, that would be arrogant - but being somewhere where your local language skills are minimal can be incredibly frustrating.

I think English is quite international, but it makes we English speakers a little too complacent with our language skills...

Queergedacht said...

I don't expect people coming to Germany speaking German. But I expect that all over the world people speaking/understand English.
I am working in an international business and we even have contact to France. But talking with French people by phone one can hear that they are not interested very much to speak english although they try to do so.

Philip said...

Perhaps you could look upon it as an intellectual challenge, something to grow from rather than suffer through. It might even be a task worthy of a wild Wednesday :-)

Trevor said...

I think the best way to work through it intellectually is to learn French, or to jump in with both feet and use the French I DO know more frequently... Or perhaps I should learn some kind of meditational practice... Any better suggestions are welcomed. It's not all bad - I just sometimes do go quietly wild.

Philip said...

Um, well yes. The intellectual challenge I referred to was learning French. And yes, use the French that you know as much as you can. People pay good money for immersive language experiences, when all you really need is a desire to communicate, some educational materials to help you, and an environment where people won't use your native language around you. The last requirement is normally met by people who don't speak English, but it could just as easily be met by people who prefer not to speak English. Of course above all you need a willingness to just wade in and make a go of it without worrying that you will make mistakes or appear stupid. We all have our fears that hold us back, perhaps this is one of yours.