Tag Archives: languages

The very very basics… Bonjour!

Classes are finally over and I get to live again. I get to learn all the things I want to learn during the entire summer and not the ones my textbooks impose on me. I get to start this summer with a clean slate.

Almost two months ago I decided to learn French for numerous reasons, but mostly because it has been a language I have always thought about but never really taken seriously. Now that I study literature and want to learn about the world, French appears to be everywhere. From the French names I can’t pronounce and the cuisine I’m unfamiliar with to the provinces and cities I have yet to explore in France. I have never been to Paris, and even though it seems to be on the top of everyone’s travel list, it’s not really on the top of mine. But it’s still there, because even if I’m not one of those true romantics, there’s still a certain magic that showers the city of love that I’m in love with.

That’s what I think about when I hear the language. French sounds like magic, it sounds like gloves holding a glass of cognac next to a gentleman with a mustache and a naked woman in a black and white image smoking a cigarette while  laying on top of her lover. French has a certain way of being silly and mysterious, It sounds like my next target.

I started the evening by typing “how to learn french” in Google, even though I’ve clearly learned throughout the years how to look for resources by picking up techniques for learning languages. I clicked on the Babbel site an started their basic lesson…

1. Bonjour!

2. Bienvenue!

3. Comment tu t’appelles?

4. Je suis Monica.

5. Ça va?

6. Bien, Merci.

From this lesson I learned that I’m going to be watching french films throughout the summer and that I’m going to start by focusing on how the language sounds. Once I get the phonetics right, everything else should be able to flow.

Bienvenue to my journey!

It’s time to learn French!

As I listen to “Je t’aime moi non plus” I realized that even though I don’t understand the lyrics, only the “Je t’aime” part of it, the tone explains a lot about the situation.

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French music is beautiful and it saddens me that I don’t understand what is being said in the songs. Besides this, when you study literature like I do, you encounter French everywhere and at some point I want to read the French classics in French and enjoy their literature as well. And how wonderful it would be to stroll down the streets of Paris talking to the locals in their native tongue. I know that French films have this sort of realistic, crude and artistic point of view and I want to understand them. So, because of all of this, I’ve decided that it’s time to learn French.

I remember that the first language I showed interest in learning was French. I was young an curious and loved to buy books at the Borders bookstore when they existed. I was 11 years old and I wanted to learn French. I already knew Spanish because it’s my native language and I learned English in school even though at the beginning I didn’t really like it.

So, my mom bought me a brand new Berlitz course that had just come out called “French Premier” and I went home and started the course. The course had 5 CD’s and it was a complete audio course. I don’t think I ever went past the first CD, I got bored at some point and put it aside.

Now, almost ten years later, I want to start again. It’s never too late, right? I still have that Berlitz course on my bookshelve always reminding me that some day I had to go back to French. Well, today is the day. There are much better resources now and the internet makes it really easy to learn languages, so there is no excuse.

I still remember a few greetings and phrases so I’ll start from there…

Bonjour! Je m’appelle Monica.

Rambles of a first day: Alcalá de Henares (May 29, 2014)

From Barajas Airport to the Alcalá de Henares
From Barajas Airport to the Alcalá de Henares

Upon arrival we got our luggage and bags, went to the plaza across the street and met and left with our host families.

plaza alcala

First thing I noticed when I got to Alcala is the greetings. Spaniards kiss twice, once in each cheek. That kind of took me by surprise, but it was easy to get used to. To the point that even back home, we (UCF students that went on the program) still greet ourselves with two kisses.

Warning: Another thing you are going to notice a lot in this city are cigüeñas or storks in historic buildings. These are protected and the city makes sure they are well taken care of, meaning that they provide “them with an easy-to-reach special supply of twigs and branches for their nests, as well as making sure they suffer as few disturbances as possible”(AlcalaNow).

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My host family is super nice and chilled. We live 15 minutes walking distance from the university in an apartment. The homes here are small but cozy. The elevator to go to our floor is extremely small, I know my roommate and my friend Barbara would definitely opt for the stairs.

I have no curfew, a set of keys, a room and bathroom to myself. The house rules are pretty standard and I have a pretty cute bunk bed and a nice view.

Bunk bed
Bunk bed

Working Space
Working Space

I got to meet my host sister when she came back from school and Luna, the beauty in the picture below.

luna
Luna

Laura is three years younger than me. She is super nice, funny and loves languages. She’s also been to Portugal and Italy and has been telling me all about it.

Alcalá is such a beautiful place.

uni

After I took the siesta (yes! I did take the siesta, that’s why I’m still awake right now), we took a walk around the city so I could learn the route to school and just for me to know where places are at.

There is a bus stop right in front of the apartments. One bus takes you around Alcalá and the sort and the other one takes you to Madrid, to the central station, where you can take buses that go to the rest of Spain.

Alcalá is small but it has a little bit of everything. There are a lot of restaurants, bars, tobacco stores or estancos, “chinos” (which are like convenience stores owned by Chinese people where you can buy pretty much anything), supermarkets, and bookstores. You can also find cathedrals, museums, plazas, and a lot of people.

calle alcala

So far, I really like everything and soon I will write more about it and post a lot of pictures. Tonight however, I’m about to go to sleep because tomorrow is going to be a really long day…

Tomorrow is orientation day, early in the morning, and then in the afternoon, we are going to take a trip to Madri”th”.

Extremely exhausted
Extremely exhausted

Good night!

Source: http://www.alcalanow.com/storks-alcala/