Tag Archives: language

my water bill, and thoughts on relocating to another country

16 Feb

london 11.42am 11.9C cloudy saturday 2019

its the weekend, and i am still at home, when usually i would be heading towards the library to get my daily dose of the newspapers there. ah well, i have changed my habits a lot, compared to before when i would religiously head to the library. i seem to have gone off the news nowadays.

but anyway, i have been reading a blog about a lady who lives in singapore, and who moved to france to work , to follow her french boyfriend, and she was telling us about the problems with  bureaucracy in france in getting a skilled person’s visa for herself so she can work there. her company which she works for in singapore is applying it for her. but even so, she found it very frustrating as she went from appointment to appointment with various departments. even getting a bank account was difficult. and reading her account makes me realise it is something that all those brits who are thinking of moving to france after brexit, may have to consider very carefully. i think the biggest factor for her, is the language. she is not fluent in french, and that makes life really difficult for her. even simple things like grocery shopping becomes a big deal for her.

and i can well sympathise with her because i have seen visitors to london whose english is no good and they do struggle. the best example i see constantly is their dealings with the bus system. no one could understand them, nor they understand what is said. so they get confused at the payment system for buses here. no cash is accepted , so that is one hurdle for them. another of course is whether they are taking the right bus to where they want to go. and here all written instructions are in english, and no other language. so it is really tough if u cannot read english. i wonder how they feel when the bus is diverted and even the announcement by the driver of the new route is not even understandable to us english speakers nevermind those foreigners.

i got a letter in the post from the water company billing me for water for the next year. it is £316.91.  i have heard and read that it is going to be more, so i was quite relieved when i saw the amount. it is almost the same as last year’s bill.

but i am really glad i can read english. i was made aware of how much it impacts your life in a foreign country if u cannot read the language. that lady who moved to france told how everything she was given in writing was all in french. and everyone speaks french to her. of course she is well aware that it is normal … and why she should expect some of them to speak english is not reasonable of her;  but what can you do if u cannot read or speak it, it is just frustrating for everyone, yourself and the officials who have to deal with you.

it makes me realise that the single most important advise one can make to anyone thinking of moving to another country is this. consider carefully about relocating there if u dont speak or read the language. it is fun if u are a tourist visitng it, but long term stay, forget it!


saw my teacher on a saturday

2 Jul

london 6.19am 12C rosy sunrise saturday 2016

i am reminded how other people know english so well, even though it is not their mother tongue. this is a german blog posting a english poem, by dave crawley about a school kid being surprised at meeting his teacher outside school.  

the poem is amusing and funny and well written, but what surprised me, (maybe i shouldn’t; i know that joke about the english newspaper headline…’ fog in channel, continent cut off ‘does make me sound like it.) is that it is posted in a german blog… i have to use google to translate the german part of it. 

i only know one language , english, even though english is not my mother tongue, and i have immersed myself so much in english, i just get surprised when someone who is german or french or spanish can speak such good english that they can appreciate an english poem. i know it is a mistaken impression on my part but french german and italian or spanish speakers have such a strong identity with their language, that somehow i got the impression that they cannot also be fluent in english… i thought u can be only fluent in one, but of course that is a wrong thing. i need reminding that other people know english very well, even though it is not their mother tongue.

but i think i am right in saying english seem to be the common language that all these different diverse language groups have in common. am i mistaken in that belief too? that english has become the language to go to for two people with different mother tongues to converse with each other. 

Digital StillCamera

Digital StillCamera

special offers but only if u speak the lingo

3 May

london 10.35am 11.8C sunny tuesday 2016

today’s metro free newspaper has a coupon for free bacon 6inch sandwich if u buy a coffee or other hot drink from them before 11.00am. and it is valid till 30 may. it’s quite a good offer, not very relevant for me as i dont really buy breakfast, it is cheaper to make my own. but it will be great if u are a tourist. 

added. 12.59pm spoke too soon, i went by the subway and saw they actually have a £2 offer for that sandwich plus coffee/hot drink/soft drink, and the coffee is £1.59, so u only save 40p . after 11am it costs £3 but the voucher is not valid then;  so not a lot of savings, actually. haha.

the above is not a good example  to show how important it is that u can speak and read english, if u dont you won’t know of this offer, but the saving is not much.

it does not negate the  general rule that  u do miss out if  u dont speak the local language of whatever country u are in. but as u can see in the later example with the soyasauce in chinatown, it can happen even in a country that u speak the language. so i dont know what the moral is haha. maybe it does not matter at all in the end. just chose to live in a country which u are comfortable in. or just adjust and accept the shortcomings if u have to live there not by choice.

subway allows u to custom- make your own fillings, or at least it used to… but i am not sure it does that now; i have not been a customer for a long time now, i only look at it from the outside not having any reason to go in and order something. it does slow down the service if everyone wants to custom make their order. and they feature items that seem to cater to most people, so u can just order it by name instead of going through the whole slow process of custom building up the sandwich. i think they build up the sandwich rather than have it ready made. unlike the americans, they dont ask u what kind of bread u want it , or rather they dont have a whole vast range of breads and options to chose, unlike that time i was in new york, and seeing the other customers ordering from the deli in a rapid firing way,and it was so intimidating, that i was too scared to even go up. haha.

 and i remember when i was in montpellier, on holiday there,ages ago, that we were unable to take advantage of this unique feature of theirs, because we did not speak french. we got a very poor sub with hardly any  filling in it.  and i was thinking if we had known how to read and speak french we would be able to see if there are special offers .

it also reminds me of the time i bought a black soya sauce from chinatown, and it was only when i was at the till, that the cashier told me i could get another one free. it was nice of her to tell me, because i did not know that they were advertising it in chinese. it is one of those things that those who are not literate lose out on. in this case, it is me, not knowing how to read the chinese characters.

Digital StillCamera

Digital StillCamera

added. 10.05am 14.7C sunny friday 2016. today’s metro newspaper, a free paper, features another voucher with this promotion, free bacon sandwich with a coffee. reading it i thought that is not much of a reduction, until i looed at it another way…  reduced price sandwich and get a coffee free. that sounds much better dont you think?

cold day, forecast snow for london

15 Feb

london 7.02pm 5.9C dark now, sunset at 5.14pm. dry. monday 2016

would be nice if we have snow in london. its very pretty when it snows. and usually the temperature rises too, when water turns to snow, it throws out a lot of heat.

now there is a north wind blowing so if u are out, it is a cold wind blowing at you. if u have your neck uncovered, it can be bitingly cold. they say it will be -2 tonight. i shall believe it for london when i see it. haha. lets see what the weather website says tomorrow.

indoors my nhs thermometer says 12C. i think i will be cold only if it is 9C so now, nothing that a hot drink wont cure.

i was on the bus this morning and watching this foreigner , french i think, who pressed his oyster onto the reader, but it did not work. it might not be his oyster card’s fault, because earlier the reader did not register for me. (though the driver was changing shift, so maybe he had not configured the reader yet.)

anyway, he was about to get off when the driver said something, i guessed about his credit card, because he returned and started taking out his cards and i could hear  him asking the driver to take the payment from the card. instead of just pressing it onto the reader,   he put them on the counter one by one,and i could hear the driver talking, but i wastoo far to hear the words.

 maybe the driver was telling him to press it against the reader, so  i expected him to press one of the cards against the reader, but he did not, and i could hear the driver talking again… maybe he does not understand what the driver was saying… anyway he took back his cards and got off.

i dont know why the driver did not mime it, pointing to the card, pointing to the reader and pressing his hands together… but maybe it never occurred to him that the guy dont understand his accent. because lets face it, people here in uk dont speak the queen’s english. just like when u go to another country they too have their accents, even if they speak english. 

i was thinking it is one of the things i dislike when i am in a country where i dontknow their language. this is one case when not knowing the language make him lose the opportunity.

it is very frustrating, if it happened to me. and that is why i dont go abroad anymore. one of the reasons anyway.

it is a minor thing, but it can really ruin your experience of a country. you ask directions or information and get a stream of language from a person, and you know  he is telling u important information but u just dont understand him.

anyway, it is things like this i see that reminds me how glad i am to be in london and not away in some foreign country.