Friday, September 30, 2016

Five on Friday: Cultural Exchange! Language! Travel! Oh My!

There seems to be themes of cultural exchange, language and travel in my life lately. It started when our family agreed to host  a British exchange student for ten days next month. Then my 14-year-old son needed help studying Spanish and I taught him my secret for remembering the word "to shower" (It's ducharse. Which sounds kind of like douche. Which is kind of like a shower. You're welcome.)

The weekend came and I spent it meeting people from around the world at an international conference in New York City. The start of the new week found me securing my plans for some solo travel in a few weeks and then I accidentally said yes to a second exchange student.

So clearly this week's list must have to do with these themes. Here are some favorite memories and moments:

1. On a trip to Egypt when I was 18, my tour guides advised we buy and consume large bottles of water every day to avoid dehydrating in their hot and dry climate. Tired of carrying the bottle everywhere and inspired by the women I saw balancing things on their heads, I began carrying my water bottle on top of my head. I had a few native Egyptians take pictures of (and share smiles with) me, the American tourist.

2. I was once walking around my college town with a young Spanish student, quizzing him on English vocabulary. I pointed out a watermelon and he excitedly said, "I know this! Yes! Marshmallow!" That sounded so unlike "watermelon" to me, it struck me as hysterical. To defend his mistake, he said, "What? Marsh-mallow, water-mallow, same difference." (That is something my friends, husband and I still frequently say.)

3. Of course, I've had my fair share of language mistakes. One that stands out is when, on a test (in Spanish), I wrote that the painting featured a man with "hornos" coming out of his head.
"Hornos" means ovens.
I had no idea why my non-English-speaking teacher thought that was so funny.
See #2. Reverse.

Sweet cabeza ovens, dude.

4. Several years ago, I worked for as a coordinator for au pairs that were working for local families. When it was time for me to to move on from that job, I knew I was going to miss these wonderful young people so much. We held our last meeting at a local pizzeria and they tearfully gave me a card. I opened it and laughed. It was a sympathy card. I still have it.

5. I explained to my six-year-old that our exchange students speak English but will sound more like Peppa Pig. She later told our friends, "our exchange students speak in accent!" 

I am looking forward to meeting them. I sure do hope they have good senses of humor.

Viva la cultural exchange!

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