Two little utterances that have brought me more shame than anything else in my twenty two years. The amount of times I have used this phrase is beyond the point of embarrassing, and every time I do, a half smile and awkward silence proceeds, whilst memories flood back of missed opportunities and that familiar feeling of helplessness.
Nit Noi is Thai for ‘a little bit’ and is basically my go-to response/#1 fave Thai catchphrase when asked if I speak the language. After every visit to my mother’s motherland the answer is always the same. Which makes the next question even better; ‘What do you study?’ ‘Languages’ *Cue perplexed expression*
Yeah, I know right, just not one of my own languages.
I’ve listed my excuses; in fact, I’ve probably spent more time defending myself as to why I can’t speak it instead of actually attempting to.
- I am studying Spanish AND Italian; this is enough to cope with especially for someone as scatty as myself – can you imagine how difficult it is to study a Spanish module in an Italian university when the professor himself switches language without warning? Did I mention he definitely spoke Castilian with a Dolmio accent?
- Despite Mum’s best efforts to speak only Thai to me at home, it is easier (not to mention much quicker) for me to respond in English, and most of the time I am not at home
- There is a different alphabet – what should I do, learn to read/write or speak first?
- I’ve got plenty of time to learn it
Truth is, I wasn’t worried about keeping it up before, and now I find myself in the same embarrassing position as always, phrasebook in hand, playing a game of charades, trying to ask Khun Yai (grandma) what’s for breakfast. Awks? Not even. It’s just plain upsetting. Why?
Time. Time is such bastard isn’t it. Scuze my French, or any other language I can’t speak LOL. My Erasmus year has been so eye opening and, frankly, I think I would be extremely lucky if I ever get the chance to experience something like it again. It just goes by SO quickly. And this is coming from someone who managed to stay abroad for more than a year. Everyone said, ‘Don’t forget to update your blog, I’ll be looking to see what you’re up to’
Well. It’s me isn’t it.
If you don’t know me, and on the off chance you had stumbled upon my just-about-there blog, you’d have gotten the impression I’d run away with a Spaniard or, more likely, fell in the sea after one too many Sangrias, before I even got the chance to fly to Italy. ITALY. Yes, I did make it there, and, as part of my new found motivation to get up off my pizza-based arse (THE FOOD THERE BY THE WAY WAS INCRED, I WILL BE POSTING PICS) and do something productive, I am starting up this writing business again, so now memories of Granada and Modena will be posted on the regular. That’s a promise I’m more than reluctant to break.
I’ve scolded myself enough times for being predictable Sam – start things and don’t finish them; with Thai (you know, I once spoke it fluently way back when, and even held a Hua Hin dialect), with Spanish/Italian (it has taken me bloody long enough to be able to speak beyond-ordering-pastries-from-bakery level) and with blogging, which is evident from the number/lack of posts you see before you.
However, I’d like to cut myself and others in my predicament a little slack. I am not lazy. Sure I can be at times, but that is not my general attitude. In fact, I am far from it. My Dad says I have a problem.
“You always try to fit two pints into a one pint pot.”
It’s true, I try to do everything at once, and sometimes, a lot of the time, it’s just not possible, but why not try? From my point of view, it’s not a bad mindset to have, in fact, I prefer to believe that ‘life is what happens while you are busy making other plans’. Too damn straight. Rather I was living, embracing all the opportunities thrown my way on my year abroad, than waste the precious time I had to record snippets of my experiences, which might not have been otherwise.
As for the case of my dire pidgin Thai, I’m working on it. It’s nowhere near good enough now, but one thing I’ve learnt from Erasmus, and something that’s shocked me in more ways than one, is the realisation of priorities. Embarrassed as I am to claim Thai nationality without acquisition of its language, I am studying for a degree in Spanish and Italian, which is what needs to be (well) worked on first. This doesn´t mean I can’t take a little time out to study Thai on the side, and by no means will it stop me from miming and blurting out random words across the breakfast table to bewildered relatives.
In terms of writing, I owe it to the memories made on my year abroad **sorry for mushy ERASMUS YAHR WAS SUCH AN ENRICHING EXPERIENCE YAR talk** to document them as best I can. However, I will not apologise for using the time the way I did – the friends I made are those I will keep for life, time I spent with these individuals in unfamiliar locations proved invaluable to life learning, oh and on top of that, my language improved YAY! I didn’t record these moments as much then because I was too busy living them, but at least I can do that now.
Dad is right. There is not enough time to do everything, but if you try and make the very most out of what time you have, then I don’t think that’s such bad shout.