Out and About

Out and About

Monday, December 20, 2010

I Love My Major

Something happened today that made me feel...smart? Special? Or maybe stupid, and uncultured...

I had just missed my tram to the center, it was one of those times where I saw it close its doors and drive away as I was approaching. I checked the schedule to find out that the next tram came in 10 minutes, and remembered there was another tram stop nearby that went to the center as well. I walked up to it, saw a tram there but wasn't sure if it was the right tram. Figuring it wasn't wise to hop on a tram that I couldn't be entirely sure was the right one, I watched it drive away as I ran up to check the schedule. Awesome, that was the right tram, and wouldn't come for another 10 minutes. So I walked back to my original spot as I figured that tram would come first.

As I was waiting, a short, stout Czech woman came up to me. I would guess she was 70 years old. She asked me something in Czech, and I whipped out my customary " nemluvím cesky" (I don't speak Czech). She was very friendly, smiled, and said something else in Czech. I took an educated guess and decided that she was asking what language I speak. I told her anglický (English), and she shook her head. She raised her eyebrows and asked, "French?" I said no. She shrugged and started walking away. I decided to play the language game with her and show her that she isn't the only one who can speak more than one language. I said " španělský" (Spanish) without much any expectation that she would speak Spanish. She turned around and said, "Ahhhh, muy bien." She then proceeded to tell me, in Spanish, that she wanted to know when the next tram to the center was arriving. I was in shock that she spoke what seemed to be perfect Spanish, albeit with a bad accent (not unlike my own!) I told her that it had come about 3 or 4 minutes ago.

She thanked me and asked me if I was from Spain. I said no, but I lived there for a while and thus can speak Spanish. She said she lived in Quito, Ecuador with her husband because he worked in the embassy there. Well, it's a small world after all.

My favorite part of this story is that an oldish woman in the Czech Republic speaks so many languages. I'm young and vibrant and can barely speak 2. Young Czech people are great at languages, but the older Czech people usually only speak Czech, and maybe German or Russian because that is what they used to teach in school. Secondly, here I am in Central Europe and my easiest way of communicating (sometimes) is in Spanish. Thirdly, I am so glad I missed those trams, because speaking in Spanish with that old Czech lady made my day.

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