Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Things I Wish I Had Known

If I had been prepared for these things, my time here may have gone smoother. Let this be a word of warning! :)

I wish I had known...

that "Southern hospitality" is not something instilled in people around the world. Be grateful for those who are kind to you, and don't let the others get under your skin.

that even though things may be done differently in Europe, it doesn't mean that it's the right way. And vice versa. Listen to your heart and stick to your well-learned values, whatever they may be.

that immigration bureaucracy isn't so transparent. Check the rules. Again. And again. And one more time.

that your boss has no right to talk down to you just because they're paying you, or even giving you a place to live. You are equal.

that babysitting employers will try to take advantage of low wages 90% of the time. Stick to the ones that are fair; you're not a teenage babysitter and they know better.

that learning a language isn't automatic. Also, the most important aspect is dedication, not time or opportunity.

that my inner voice was right all along. Don't go against your gut.

that a good friend is more important than other worries or cares. Cherish your time with them.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday Message

It's no secret that I've been waiting a long time for my Swiss residence permit. And I've been too busy with school to blog in the past two weeks. I also have my future on my mind, whether or not I'll start another program in Switzerland, which obviously weighs a lot on my permit situation. Basically, it's been a rough road. And because I know everyone has their own difficult situation, I thought I would just put a positive word out there today: everything will work out. I've been in some pretty crappy situations, but with the help of inspirational readings and great friends, I always find my way again.

Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.
Studs Terkel

I go back and forth between enjoying my job taking care of children and being totally burned out. I would definitely like to have a job in a completely unrelated field in my near future. But when the kids are particularly cute or say something meaningful, I remember that I shouldn't take it for granted. Children are a blessing no matter if they're yours or not, and you can always learn something from them. And their unique way of life can help me get through mine.

All my days I have longed equally to travel the right road and to take my own errant path. 
Sigrid Undset

People have called me brave for living in Europe and not taking the "easy" way out, but I honestly see it as simply a way to prove to myself that I'm capable of doing something. The stereotypical path would have led me from a bachelors straight to a masters program and maybe a doctorate, which I would still love to do. But my strange desire to live in France from the time of my early childhood instilled a desire in me to do something "other." And so here I am, finding a mix of the two. My definition of normal is changing.

You swam in a river of chance and coincidence. You clung to the happiest accidents—the rest you let float by. 
David Wroblewski

I would say that pretty much all of my job findings here have been based on luck (well, maybe not since they've all been pretty crappy, but I'm focusing on timing here). Something falls through and then I miraculously find something else within a week or two. I have met great people through random encounters and they have changed my life for the better. So even though it's stressful to frequently fly by the seat of my pants, it's exhilarating, and there's always hope.

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky. 
Rabindranath Tagore

Long story short, I've been forced to learn to be constantly optimistic. Sure, I have plenty of down times. But since there have been countless times that I've fallen and gotten right back up, learning important life lessons, I've figured out that I can pretty much handle anything. We all can. It's just a matter of using the experiences we've accumulated, making new ones, and leaning on friends for a listening ear. It doesn't always even take hearing advice, but simply having someone to listen. No matter the storm, the sun will rise again.

Finally, my wonderful friend Marina has given me some poignant advice in my effort to stay positive. 

First, concerning hard times:
"How many times have you seen soldiers winning something without fighting for it? In other words, there are no victories won without battles."

And concerning my worry:
"God makes beautiful flowers everyday, and you think he hasn't planned a beautiful future for you?"

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Link Love

I've read some really good articles recently on a variety of subjects which pertain to the content I normally talk about, so I thought y'all might enjoy them, too:)

First off, some writing tips from F. Scott Fitzgerald through two of his letters, posted in this article. Golden.

Shannon Hale
Secondly, some interesting thoughts from a great YA author on writing from the perspective of other races.


Here's a fun and short language quiz with some slightly obscure, but interesting questions. Let me know how you do! (Thanks to my sis for sending this one to me)

If you didn't do so well on the quiz and need some language motivation, Itchy Feet artist Malachi Rempen wrote this piece on keeping motivated:) (And I seriously suggest avidly reading all his comics one day when you're looking for something to procrastinate with. They're hilarious.)

As a follow-up, here are five reasons why learning languages is good for your brain!

One of my favorite bloggers told the story about how her little dog was lost and found this week, and how it helped her faith in the process. Isn't he just precious?!

So, I like to be prepared for things, even if they won't happen for years to come... which is why I enjoy reading marriage and baby advice even when I won't be ready for that stuff for quite awhile. Yeah, I'm weird. Anyway. I've read several blog posts about how to keep a marriage strong, and this article had some good advice I hadn't heard before, so it's worth checking out. And it can obviously be applied to any relationship!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Friday/Saturday Round-Up

I got so busy this week that I ran out of time for my Friday Round-Up! Here it is, a day late:) My apologies! This week marks the starting-to-freak-out-about-finals-coming-up time. Can't wait til it's all over a month from now!

This week on Andrea's blog, I wrote a response to her piece on mandatory study abroad for universities, mine being a bit more hopeful for this type of program.

So, Alphorn's are a famous trumpet-like horn from Switzerland, which are played at a lot of Swiss festivals, usually by older men. At a traditional Swiss restaurant last Friday night, a man played for several minutes and then let people try it out. It's surprisingly hard! I kept in mind I few things I knew about brass players, like licking your lips, tucking in your lips, and blowing hard from your gut, and I did pretty well! I even managed to play different tones by changing the air speed. Check out the wikipedia page for more pics and info on this sweet horn.

One day I was counting the cats and I absent-mindedly counted myself. 

Bobbie Ann Mason

Feeling a little crazy these days:)

Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945Conversations sur la langue fran├žaise

Inferno- I only have about one hour of listening left with this one. It has definitely been interesting, but I guarantee that I won't retain more than about 20% of it, and maybe not even that. It was just so heavy with detail-specific accounts on various battles and comments on politics that it was putting me to sleep most of the time. I'm really interested in nonfiction, but this one just couldn't keep my attention. However, the information I heard when it sounded interesting has helped some of my understanding, not only about World War II, but war in general.

Conversations- It's going to be a goal this weekend to polish this one off, as I'm 2/3 of the way through. It's not interesting enough for me to be super motivated to sit down and read, but is teaching me enough that when I do, I'm not bored. The "teacher" speaker is definitely a know-it-all scholar, but he teaches some good lessons nonetheless.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Stargate SG-1's Guide to Learning Languages

I thought it would be fun to see what there is to know about language learning from the awesome now-discontinued TV series Stargate SG-1, so let's get to it! (Everything is based on my own opinion and should not be assumed to be officially tied to the series in any way.)

Sam and Teal'c above, Daniel and Jack below

From the main characters' perspectives:

Dr. Daniel Jackson: Languages are most assuredly necessary to our interaction with various cultures around the world and around the universe. We simply could not get by without learning many languages personally. It's already so important to be multilingual on our planet, but add in other planets and other galaxies, and it's a whole other story! (And if we're counting, I spoke 24 languages before the discovery of the stargate and now speak several more.)

Samantha Carter: Languages are definitely a vital part of our society, particularly with our recent discovery of interstellar travel. I would definitely love to study languages as Daniel does, but unfortunately, my research in astrophysics doesn't leave much free time!

Teal'c: I already speak a sufficient number of languages.

Jack O'Neill: That stuff's for nerds. Well, there was that one time I spoke Ancient and it was pretty cool, but it ended up backfiring on me, so I'm not interested in trying that again.

From a linguistics perspective, it's unfortunate that every planet the team travels to has the "aliens" speaking modern English, which is impossible in a true reality. There are only a few exceptions, like the Goa'uld language present throughout the entire series, the Nox needing "time" (really only about 5 minutes) to learn English intuitively, and the Unas speaking their primal language and only learning a primal form of English. Daniel Jackson speaks several languages a few times while on Earth, but his linguistic representation is still very low. The team does encounter races with other languages, like the Ancients and the Asgard, but they also speak English.

It seems fairly obvious that the reasoning for so little language representation is because of the effort it would take to invent languages for every planet and have Daniel figure out how to communicate with them for the first five or ten minutes, etc. It just doesn't make sense for a TV series. However, that wasn't the case for the movie that inspired the series. In the movie, the people on Abydos speak a language similar to Ancient Egyptian, and the Goa'uld speak their own language. Daniel had to learn the Abydos dialect in order to communicate, and although it was relatively fast, it made sense that he needed to do so. And then when the characters return to Abydos for the TV show, Daniel (who had stayed there for one year), had conveniently taught everyone English, and they almost never again encountered a planet where no one spoke English.

From my mom's fav episode where they travel back to 1969:)

Therefore, it ironically appears more necessary to speak multiple languages on Earth rather than for the purposes of traveling to other planets. Basically, English is the lingua franca everywhere. Everywhere. Isn't that magical?

However, there are several episodes which highlight the importance of knowing and learning foreign languages, as Daniel is often showed spending entire episodes "cracking the code" of some language, etc., and it saved their lives in all of those cases. Even during times on Earth, Daniel speaking other languages helped the team avoid a lot of trouble.

In the end, Stargate SG-1 basically teaches us that while learning multiple foreign languages isn't necessary for every person, it is very important as a whole, and the practice of linguistics and multilingualism is extremely important.


Right from the beginning while watching Stargate SG-1, I decided that when I grew up, I wanted to be Daniel Jackson. Not an archaeologist, because it doesn't sound fun to bend over digging in the dirt all day, but Daniel Jackson. Linguist, polyglot, historian, smart alack. I would throw in "traveler of worlds," but I at least try to sound a little realistic. I definitely don't think I'll achieve Daniel Jackson status because I'm much too lazy to learn 24 languages and then some, but if I can get a handful in, that's good enough for me:)