I flew up to Cambridge, Massachusetts today. It didn’t really hit me that I was leaving home until the plane was circling to land. I saw a coastline entirely different from that of Tampa, Florida (my hometown) with sailboats galore. The fact that the airplane stewardess had a silly Boston accent helped speed up my slowly-dawning revelation- I was going to be living here, in Massachusetts, for the next four years. Wow. Oh, and I don’t know anybody.
My First Friend:
My taxi driver spoke Arabic, Spanish, and English. I don’t know if I give off a language-nerd vibe or if I go straight to the topic of languages with everyone I communicate with, but right off the bat, we began discussing Arabic. Again, being me, I happened to know one phrase in Arabic: “I am a girl.” Unfortunately, my internet research was flawed as the phrase I knew turned out to be “I am a married woman.”
Well, that is incorrect. But he taught me a new phrase, so now I can say “Ana bent.” (I am a girl.) So if I am ever in a sticky situation in an Arabic speaking country, I can assuage the tension in the room by calming announcing to everybody present that I am a girl. There, problem solved. He also helped me practice tricky Arabic pronunciation, so there was lots of “hehhing” and hhssing” and einnning” going on in the taxi. Guessing by the slight twitch he got in his left eye when I mimicked his sounds, I don’t think I mimicked him very well. But fear not, our friendship was established despite my poor Arabic. I have his email for future language endeavors and with a “Salaam Alaikum” I rolled off through the gates of Harvard, two rolling suitcases in tow.
I hope the fact that I learned some Arabic today makes up for my failure to be a helpful polyglot at the airport. A lady came up to me at the baggage claim asking “hablas espanol?” and I said “no” and walked away. Why did I say that? Maybe I haven’t spoken Spanish in a few years but I can understand it pretty well! And I probably could have helped her! Oh language gods, please don’t be mad at me.