Thursday, March 11, 2010

Feeling Rather Inadequate

After 3 months in Europe, I have come to realise there is a certain charm about this place. There is a certain magic about being able to pop round to the UK for a weekend, or drive over to Italy for a mini-break. And, yes, finding a flight from London to Katowice for 6Euro is rather charming too. However, living in Europe, I am becoming to feel more and more inadequate to be living in Europe.

Firstly, Europeans travel... a lot. My pathetic 22 countries and 4 continents are pretty weak in comparison to some people I've met. I mean, I haven't even been to Africa, or Turkey, or South America. And I only went to Athens, I didn't make it to the Greek Isles. Pretty poor form, Anna, pretty poor form!

Secondly, I don't drink beer. I cannot comment of whether Belgian or Dutch or German or French is better. Mainly, because they all taste the same to me. I'm from Poland, I can vaguely distinguish the taste of certain vodkas. Perhaps I belong in the freezing wastelands of my birth country, where they drink beer through a straw!

Thirdy, I only speak three languages. And not very well at that. I have an accent in English, Polish and French, if someone is kind enough to let me include French in my list of 'languages I speak'. I spend most of my time here being looked at like a crazy person because I accidently used the past imperfect instead of the future simple. Ok, big mistake, but I am thinking on my feet, trying to remember vocab and say things in a semi-french fashion. Tenses go out the window.

However, my ability to fake-speak 3 languages (possibly more when I've gotten through a bottle of rum) is rather unimpressive in Europe. When I start speaking Polish on the phone to my parents back in Australia, or break out into basic French with some tourists, people look at me in awe and wonderment. It's kind of cool, actually. However, in Europe, everyone speaks at least 2 languages, if not 3, perfectly. And they are usually 3 useful languages, like English, French and Spanish, for example. Not Polish. Where can you speak Polish? Only in Poland! My country had no colonies to spread the vowel-less, consontant-filled goodness of 6 different gramatical cases. My language skills are pretty limited. Granted, I speak English, but my French is atrocious and Spanish is non-existant. My ability to haggle and sing a nursery rhyme in Mandarin is not as impressive as being able to discuss Kant's theories in the original German. Plus, someone always knows someone who speaks 7 languages, 5 without an accent, or is the person who speaks 7 languages and 5 without an accent.

Yes, I am rather ordinary here in Europe.

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