BIG NEWS: my boyfriend and I got an internship in Indonesia for this summer and will spend six weeks teaching English in a village!! After that we’re going to backpack for a month. Absolutely cannot wait. If anybody reading has any advice, stories, etc about Indonesia/Southeast Asia I would love to hear it. I’ve done a lot of the basic research but hearing from people with experience there is always helpful.
On that note, I wanted to talk a bit about one of my favorite things about having an international group of friends, as I did in Glasgow.
Language barriers. They cause a surprising amount of amusement as well as confusion. Before I go into this and offend anyone, let me say this: I was constantly impressed with my friends’ grasp of English. I’ve taken 6.5 years of Spanish and am nowhere close to fluent, but the people I”m talking about had without a doubt achieved fluency. Their vocabulary impressed me and the fact that I didn’t need to slow down or use small words will always be incredible to me, as I know I would not fare so well in a Spanish-speaking country.
So, without further ado, a few of my favorite anecdotes:
– My friend Luisa is from Mexico. I was at her flat and to use the restroom I had to go through her room. It was kind of messy and the duvet (comforter) was on the floor. Explaining this to me, she looked at me sadly and said: “I wet the bed.” I was slightly baffled and didn’t know whether to laugh or not and just repeated her: “You wet the bed???” She responded: “Yes, I had a water bottle and I thought it was closed and it wasn’t and the bed got wet!” Needless to say, once I explained what “wetting the bed” actually meant we had a pretty good laugh.
– My Dutch friend got a little bit confused while attempting to remember how to translate something. He asked “What do you put babies in? Wait, wait don’t tell me, I know this…a coffin!” He realized his mistake pretty immediately…there is a pretty big difference between cradle and coffin!
-The same Dutch friend was telling a story about a crazy night and said: “Yeah, and I was so drunk I just passed away!” Oops.
[Side note, another funny story: I once accidentally kissed that Dutch friend. When I say accidentally, I don’t mean I got drunk and did something I regretted. I mean we were in a loud club and he was leaning in to kiss my cheek. Me and my awkward self thought he was leaning over to say something to me and turned to him like “whaaaa?” and my mouth collided with his. It was just a little bit awkward.]
And finally, two pictures from Glasgow City Chambers:
Friday I walked into my Math 118 recitation (stupid people math, basically- I’m a humanities student with no faculty for numbers) ready to do our group work assignment. I hadn’t gone to the lecture in about two weeks – I’ve found that I understand it a lot better when I teach myself from the textbook.
I walked into the room and rather than seeing chatted people divided into groups, I saw everyone hunched over their desks, an unfamiliar TA passing out papers.
“Who still needs a test?” she asked.
My first thought was rather explicit.
My second was: “Is this a dream? This sucks.”
Amazingly, I did not panic or burst into tears. I took a test from her, found a seat, and started rummaging through my backpack.
This was when I discovered my second big mistake: I had forgotten my calculator. For a test that required me to use logs.
I held it together and thought through my options. I went to the TA, told her I had somehow forgotten my calculator, and asked if I could use the one on my iPod.
“Don’t tell the professor….but I trust you.”
I would like to take a second to thank the apple geniuses for including a log function on my little iPod touch calculator. And I would like to take another second to berate them for either not including an “e” button or making it too difficult for me to find it.
[For the record I am a devout PC]
I didn’t know how to do all the problems considering I hadn’t studied at all, although thankfully the formulas were included.
The other part of this predicament (yes, it gets worse) was that I hadn’t finished my one page reading response for my class the next hour. I only needed 50 or so more words and a citation and was planning on finishing it while we did the group work (I swear I’m not as bad of a student as this makes it seem).
So when the time was up and I still had 2 questions left but only had ten minutes to finish my response, cite it, print it, and make it to my next class all the way across campus, I had a decision to make.
I was pretty sure the syllabus said our final would replace our lowest test grade, so this wouldn’t actually matter as long as I actually studied for the next ones, and the last 2 problems were worth less, so I turned it in unfinished and opened my computer in the hallway. I quickly typed the rest of my response, cited it (hopefully correctly, I was rushing), ran up two flights of stairs where I knew there was a printer, printed it, and made it all the way across campus in three minutes. I was only a minute late.
In my next class, I figured out how this had happened: when I wrote down all my exam and paper dates in my agenda I had somehow missed my math class. But I also checked the syllabus and verified that my final grade would in fact replace my lowest exam grade.
Mistakes are never as bad as they feel initially. All we can do is try to remain calm and do what we can with the situation. And when you’re overwhelmed with your own stupidity because seriously, how did I not know I had a math test? just ask yourself: will this matter in two years? Chances are it won’t.
And remember: mistakes almost always make for funny stories…
Isle of Arran surprised me. It’s one of the southernmost islands of Scotland, and is very different geographically. From crazy fauna and leaves bigger than me to the more typical rolling hills and highland cows it was absolutely breathtaking. The plant life was so much different from the rest of Scotland but wasn’t English, either. Isle of Arran is really just its own magical place.