Journal Feb 13th 09.
2009 – 2 – 13
13 – 2 – 09
Today.
Friday, February 13, 2009. Skip that…Cut it up a bit… Today, Friday the 13th. A great day. I’ve always considered 13 to be a reasonably lucky number. I have always had good luck on Friday the 13th. I’m not sure where the tradition comes from, or what culture so vehemently believes that Friday the 13th is such an unlucky day. Someone should explain it to me.
I had a wonderful day today. I met with some Italian leghisti. Got to go for a walk and talk with a professor as well. Really interesting information different outlooks on the current situation here in Italy. Every day here is a day of discovery, interesting facts and increased learning. Our purpose is to provide analytical commentary, to understand, convert, flesh out, and fill the void around cold hard facts… I won’t lie its hard work, but I’ve got to say that it is very rewarding. The last series of days I’ve gotten a chance to spend some time with the two young gentlemen who are my mentors. They’ve provided invaluable insight into Foreign Service as well as offered examples and anecdotes from their experiences.
I’ve got to admit there are few things in the world that can motivate me more than praise and confidence in ability. These conversations have reaffirmed my decision to come here and the value it will add to my life. I understand that I’ve got a bit of a learning curve, especially when it comes to my comprehension and deciphering of the Italian language, and yet I can’t help but be excited by the progress I’ve already made. As I learn more and understand what kind of final products I need to produce I am becoming more confident.
A wonderful feeling.
The world is an amazing place; surviving in its many different cultures is difficult to say the least. But understanding a basic framework upon which you can adapt and integrate yourself instantly is the skill set that the Foreign Service offers. There is no one thing that you can be sure to learn while serving, except that change and adaptation to your environment are essential to your survival.
Some things I’ve learned so far:
How to survive in Italy with only a few simple phrases:
Buon Giorno. Come Sta? Io sono benino. Mi dispiace per mio italiano ma, io cerco per un _______
It’s a polite phrase for finding anything you might be looking for. It automatically introduces you as a polite adult and by using the formal (sta), offers interest in how the other person feels without being disrespectful. It continues by telling them your okay…Not amazing, nor so so, but in typical Italian fashion – Ok. Then the phrase apologizes for your Italian – which gives you free reign to slaughter pronunciation or conjugation and sets up a conversation in which your Italian counterpart is seeking the gist of what you’re saying instead of focusing on the words you’re saying. Finally it lets them know that you’re looking for something… all in 18 words. Amazing.
Next – Come se dice? How do you say –
Costo? – Cost?
Pagare – Io Pago – Pay
Beyond this the attempt to speak Italian means much more than the actual content. Even if you have to speak mostly in English, beginning with the above phrase, “Buon Giorno/Sera (good day/evening). Come Sta? Io sono benino. Mi dispiace per me italiano ma,” is a base phrase that is an attempt at Italian. After that phrase if you need to say, “mi dispiace ma io ho bisogno di parlare inglese” or “Parla piano per favore” (speak slowly please) the Italian person you are speaking with is much more likely to be accommodating and will work to help you fill out your sentences, walk with you to what your trying to find, and most importantly be much more friendly. The attempt sets an understanding of good will and distinguishes you from most tourists who couldn’t care less about the people and their language.
I will continue to add more phrases throughout my blog and add a summary at the end of what I’ve learned and enjoyed while here.
Ciao tutti!