Friday, March 17, 2006

comment ça merde alors?...but alors you are French? thomas

I read some posts about Americans having a hard time to communicate when living in France... And in a way that reminds me of the time I decided to study in Great Britain....-->

One summer I had met this english girl and communication had been very difficult. And when I started 3rd year engineering school, I was wondering how in the world was I able to score above 500 at the TOEFL with my pathetic english (yes, yes, in order to get my engineering master, i had to pass the TOEFL)...PLUS... I had in my group 5 scottish students, and was really "glad" when the professors told us we would have to work with them in different projects...Come on, I can't even ask a girl if she wants to spend the night on the beach, how the heck will I write thesis and report with them. Anyway, after few month of adaptation we were able to communicate in a broken french with some words in english, and I told mysel that I really had to do something about it... There were 9 places for the university in Glasgow and 1 in London, so I applied, and because of my good results was accepted. I was going to spend my whole 4th year in Strathclyde University in Glasgow.

After one last summer in France, still being super lousy in english, it was time to fly to Scotland. My flight went really well till Birmingham when we had to get off the plane for some security check or whatever... signs in english, speakers speaking english, policemen speaking english...oh great...after asking me 5 times for I dont know what, the policeman finally said " paper, ID, papier"...Gosh, finally back in the plane and....wait they changed the stewardesses, they are now english...I remember giving a big smile and saying no, when the girl started to talk to me... (YEAAAAAAH i just said no to my lunch, fantastic!!!!)

Then, we finally arrived in Glasgow, the city with the worst scottish accent (no one told me that before), I took my suitcases, and started to look for a friend who was supposed to pick me up...I wait one, two hours, still no one. So I decide that I would have to get there on my own. Luckily, my university has a desk at the airport to orientate the exchange students, so I suddenly feel much better as soon as I spot it. I ask them how to get to the university, and they reply.. asking if I have an accomodation... I try to explain that a friend has my keys but I have no idea where I live...and they understand...that I have nowhere to go, so they call a cab, who takes my suitcases and here I am in the cab (you have to imagine that I am more like a puppet at that time as I have no idea what is going on)... The cab driver is really great, laughing and talking, the only problem.. his sentence is more like the longest english word I've heard, so I do what every foreigner does in this case, I smile...and he talks again..oh great, the same exact long word, must be a question. So I reply that I dont understand... I think that after 5 minutes he gave up as he stopped talking. At that moment, all I can think about is why I decided to come to scotland, how am I supposed to understand a class on thin-walled structure if I can't understand a cab guy. First contact with scottish= disaster.

After that everything went fast, I spent about 400 pounds in 4 hours, but at least, I found my friend who just mistook 10am with 10pm, I finally have my keys, and my next mission is go to the university to have my class choices validated by the supervisor (I decided to go shopping later when all of my french friends would go). It took me awhile to find his office and darn it... my class starts in 2 days and he isnt there, I spot a lady in the corridor and ask her if she knows if Professor McWhatever (sorry I forgot his name - just remember the mac part) is around. She goes to the office to check (yes!!!!! she understood me!!) and then turns around and says " he isn't aRRRRound. Doyouknowseeanyoneelse? AAAAAARGG another giant word!! I ask her to repeat and she says slower (still fast though) do you know see anyone else? (in my head-- a second what the heck does that mean???). In front of my puzzled face, she then decides to write it down... DO YOU KNOW SEE ANYONE ELSE... it took me about 30 seconds to understand she was asking if I knew (if i could) see anyone else... second contact= non conclusive.

And all this in one day.. I decided to just go to bed and as we say...tomorrow is another day. I finally succeeded in mastering Glaswegian comprehension, and my english is now definitelly better than it was. So, if you guys feel down cause you dont understand french, just remember, be patient and "à coeur vaillant, rien d'impossible".


At March 17, 2006, Blogger Deb said...

The fact that you were able to communicate in the land of Scots....I applaud you! One of my ex-boyfriends was Scottish, and although I could understand him without a problem, my friends couldn't.

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