Monday, January 18, 2016


Updating from somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. 

In the past year, I have become a little bit obsessed with languages. I was into Duolingo, I wanted to move to Europe one day, and, well - now I've got seventeen languages on the go. Or is it eighteen at this point? I forget. Anyway, I've been told that I should just pick one, that certain languages are useless, that I'll get confused. I really don't care. This is mostly for fun and maybe courtesy while travelling - the only language I really want to get good at is Swedish.

Since Amsterdam is a large international hub, there were people of all nations and backgrounds on the flight, presumably headed to the far corners of the world. Naturally, they put me next to an elderly Russian couple. Who couldn't speak a word of English. Enter Rachael to the rescue. My Russian is incredibly rusty, but I kept up a halting conversation with them, showed them how the in-flight entertainment system worked, and translated for them with the flight crew. When I could, I tried to address the flight crew in Dutch, but I'll admit my vocabulary was a bit lacking. Best of all, it was FUN.

It's strange, the brief relationship we have with our airline seat mates. Usually we ignore them, sometimes we're annoyed by them, sometimes it's just a smile or a glance. I will never see that elderly Russian couple again - but for those seven hours on the plane, it was like sharing a small world together.

There are a lot of things I like about KLM, but one of the best is that they have an in-flight language instruction program, covering over twenty-three languages. Now, I know about three words of Finnish, which is kind of dumb when you're about to go there, but luckily they had it! (Not Swedish, though, but I suspect I can handle myself in urban Stockholm.) So I plowed through it and was done their Finnish course by the time they'd served the meals. If anyone tries to fool me with basic vocabulary, joke's on them!

The truth is, I'm still half-convinced I'm crazy for undertaking this trip. It was a bit of a whim, after all, to the tune of two weeks of missed school. But it's going well so far. Apart from being bone tired, that is. Red-eye flights, when will I ever learn?

All in all, this trip has gotten off to a good start - and a linguistic success.

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