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The Friend`s English

It has been about nine years since I first came to the United Kingdom. This is the fifth time that I come to this country, my first as a member of staff for Manor Courses. The most amazing thing is that I am having as much fun and learn just as much as the other times around, when I was a student, first in Taunton then in Hurst.

Having started learning English by the age of five, I cannot say that I have struggled with the language, though I do recall facing some challenges along the way. Do you guys remember the Pokémon video games? Every now and then my mom tells me the story of how I would spend entire afternoons translating the braille codes in the game guide into the common Latin alphabet only to then translate those trickier words from English to Portuguese. Words like charcoal, leftovers or blizzard eventually become something more than items or Pokémon moves, though a small trauma still remains: in order to follow the motto “Gotta Catch `Em All” it was necessary to evolve some of them. A tiny fraction needed to do so by developing a friendship between the Pokémon and the trainer (or player). Truth be told, I was unable to find the meaning of the word friendship at the time and for that reason spent countless hours around the game map trying to figure out what was the ship that I had to board in order to complete the Pokedex. Truth be told, I was unable to catch them all in Pokémon Silver…

But then again, I did manage to get them all in the version after…but not only that! Thanks to learning English, I have had countless opportunities deriving from it, being my position at Manor Courses this summer only the latest.

Say, for example, doing an Erasmus programme in the beautiful capital of Hungary where not only I got to make many new friends, had the chance to travel, to party, and of course to study – some subjects that would eventually become a sort of a specialization for my Political Science degree. Honour when it’s due, there was this one night in which all of this came together. Sitting and drinking in the kitchen with a foreign friend of mine who was staying over in Budapest, we went on talking about all the decisive situations that led to that entertaining evening. Admittedly, having another (common) friend visiting me some weeks before was only one of the influencing decisions. Then again, I most certainly were not the only person in the house worth visiting, yet through all of the decisions that brought us and our friends to such nice situations and cool moments, something that has consistently and positively had impact in our lives, something that gravitated me and my friends towards great experiences, impossible otherwise, it was the decision of my parents for me to learn English and my own involvement in this activity. Dear young person, along with other expressions, “my name is” is going to follow you throughout your life.

What makes this language so interesting is that it is indeed the lingua franca of our times. More than other languages, English is no longer the language of the people of Britain but the language of the people of the world (surprisingly, this is one of the things I have learning this time around the U.K.). Having travelled a lot (mostly around Europe) I never really found it hard to understand other`s people English. I believe that some common dealings are built from people alike me as well as from pop culture that we gather from everywhere, which helps us to establish common grounds for relationships and understanding of each other.

As in for British people, either it is because they are indeed the original speakers of the language or because they have quite a strong culture. This time around I am advancing my English through the understanding of those habits. Whilst it is not like the TV series “Shameless”, I would be extremely happy if I could manage to cut out all those weird symbols from the subtitles. I am hoping that my sharing of the things I have learned from other cultures is also well perceived. British humour can be quite harsh to anyone, but not understanding it is indeed “the language barrier” that they tend to joke about so many times. I could go as far as calling that just self-criticism, but then again, I did learn a couple of new expressions and words, from lanyard to invigilate. Nevertheless, I doubt the joke could be on me.

Honestly, it has been pretty great. One week and a half and I`m already quite aware I`m going to miss these people, the old and the young ones alike. For many, two weeks is not enough. That`s probably why they repeat. New people will arrive soon. One thing is maintained: the language of conversation.

I quite appreciate having friends over my place and just to cook something for them and to share some brief moments of my ongoing week. I do enjoy it and it really makes me count my presence in particular places before the tiny grains of sand escape the huge hourglass. I caught myself saying this the other day: “I wish you guys lived in the same city as me, so that I could have you over for dinner over the week.” More than two weeks left so let’s go back to basics: “How do you do, mate?”

21/07/15

FS

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