Tuesday, September 26, 2006

words and communication

since i'm spending a fair amount of time working on romanian, language is on my brain. which is a good thing if i actually want to learn the language. but can be frustrating. since sometimes it would be nice to be aware of other things. oh well. i have this assumption that because i am in romania, i will hear romanian. so when i hear something else it surprises me. like when teenagers get on the bus and are 'practicing their english' (and probably being 'cool' too). or when i actually listen to the words of the music that is played everywhere. often it's english. or spanish. and sometimes it's romanian. since i'm trying to listen to the romanian around me, hearing english throws me off guard. weird.

another thought about language. europeans often take opportunities (as they come) to visit other countries and other places. i assume they learn some of the language, but you can't be prepared for every situation unless you do a thorough, intensive study. so, i wonder if europeans are more accustomed to hearing various languages than americans. if i was working in a store and somebody came in who didn't speak a word of english (or maybe only two words), it would surprise me. in large cities this is less true with the immigrants from all over the world. but -- in europe it seems like people are more willing to try and communicate. pointing and using cashiers instead of just saying numbers. and since i've heard a few different languages, i can sometimes guess at least general areas people are from, which is fun. but growing accustomed to hearing a variety of languages and not always understanding will take some time.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


so, i've been in romania for almost two weeks now. and i'm beginning to feel a little bit settled. the layout of iasi is nothing like what i'm used to. the roads curve different directions and there are no mountains to tell me which way is north. but -- today i rode a bus and knew where it was coming from, where it was going, and what it passed. so the map in my brain is getting less fuzzy, which is exciting. because i have been so unsettled recently, i've been (re)discovering things i value -- knowing where i am physically in space, my own space, deep conversations. mostly these and others have come to mind because i haven't had them. but my roots are getting enough nourishment to grow now, so i just get to be patient.

about a week ago, i wrote various words in my journal about how i was feeling. and most of them are still true at one point or another each day. (the last two months or so have been marked by my fluctuating emotions -- strange since i usually am even keeled and readily able to find things to smile about.) the words are ... overwhelmed - excitement - frustration - sadness - (un)prepared - fear - impatience - unbalanced - joy - rightness - wonder - anxiety - carried - readiness - heavy - sure - out of place - uneasy - aware - questions - missing - exhausted - hungry - lonliness.

on the more practical side of things, i've been told people wonder what i'm actually doing. getting settled is a big piece. walking around the city until things are familiar and i have a guess where to go when i need fresh fruit, batteries, water, cash, notebooks... looking at signs and being glad when i know a word or two. and -- language is my main focus. so i meet with a language helper three times a week for about two hours and we do various projects. i prepare before and then review what we did (and listen to the recordings i made) afterwords. as i fall asleep at night, i've been having random phrases or words in romanian wander around in my brain. which is exciting -- that i'm remembering some. but not so good for calming down and sleeping. on a good note, though -- i've been sleeping between 8 and 10 hours a night, which is recommended for intense language learning. and gives me emotional energy to face the challenges each day brings.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

one day left...

so, i leave for romania tomorrow morning. and have all sorts of tasks to accomplish today before that. (granted, some of my tasks include calling a few more friends, visiting with a neighbor, and spending time with my parents -- and if i'm not careful they become simply tasks instead of time to savor.) and i am getting more excited about actually being in romania. it's been a long time in coming (since i have been thinking and aiming toward romania on some level since october two years ago), and in some senses i'm very ready to be there.

in the process of leaving, i've had opportunity to say goodbye to all sorts of people. family, close friends, church family, neighbors. and a couple people reminded me of a c.s. lewis quote which goes something like 'Christians never say goodbye, but only see you later'. which is true. but ... as a human, when i say goodbye to someone, i say goodbye to the person they are at this specific moment and goodbye to the possibilities of physically being with them for the next little while (for a day, a week, a couple of years..). so, as i mourn all this leave-taking i must do, i get to simultaneously look ahead to what is to come, which is more exciting than i can possibly imagine. but, for now i must hold the tension of saying goodbye and yet being together in God's Body.