Words spoken by the bread lady that went unnoticed until I was halfway between Ted’s bread stand and my garsoniera, as I stopped, bread in hand, ‘did she just say fresh?’.
Language has been a struggle. I could probably get through an entire day without speaking a word of Romanian and some days that is a very attractive option. This particular day I walked up to the bread stand on my way home from school and ordered the usual, sliced wheat bread. She put two loafs in front of me, asked me which was more “fresh”, I squeezed, chose, and went on my way. After about a 50 second delay I realized exactly what she had said.
By now it is no secret that there is a foreigner in the neighborhood. I have talked to a few people on the benches outside of my block, and Cristi has introduced me to many others in the neighborhood. When I realized what my bread lady said I felt stunned, but after giving it some thought I realized that my presence here affects many. Before this little incident I had been so preoccupied with making sure this is a smooth transition for me. I have been doing much to make sure I settle in, and get accustomed to life here. I have been well aware and thankful of all of the help I have been receiving from the people here, but for many of them it wasn’t a choice to have a foreigner around. I did chose to go and serve in a foreign country and therefore it is my responsibility to speak the language as much as possible, try my hardest in those common social situations, and progress. Language learning here has been a difficult, time-consuming, rewarding, and oftentimes amusing experience. Sometimes in my anxiety, I forget that there are two sides to the conversation and that the other person is trying as well. They are trying to make their sentences simple but still hold a conversation, trying to speak slowly, and in Ernest’s case, developing an entirely new brand of Romenglish (eg.jumpeaza). Though it is important for me to feel comfortable at site, it is also important to work hard on the language everyday especially in these first few months. I would love to go back to Târgoviste in a couple of months and show off my language skills to my gazda, who in August, I was speaking to almost entirely in English.
Today a student asked me if I speak Romanian. I told him that I do speak some Romanian and that after living here for two years I hope to be able to speak Romanian well. Until then there will be people like the bread lady sneaking in surprise English words to try and make this experience a bit easier on me.
Garsoniera- 1 room apartment
Târgoviste- my PST training city