We're finally having nice weather. I've been working. I've been walking about.
Here are some pics from a walk that I took with my two best buddies around our neighborhood. We ran into some friends and made a few new ones (mostly of the furry variety) along the way.
Monday, April 28, 2008
We're finally having nice weather. I've been working. I've been walking about.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
ok, rant time....
Public Enemy once sang the song and many of us still know its true "911 Is a joke", but living here has changed me a bit and made me slightly forgiving of those 911 dispatchers because (and I never thought I'd say this) at least they answered. If there's one thing (beyond the feeble shower caps) that has annoyed me about this country, it has been the casual attitude towards basic communication. I can't even tell you how many phone calls to offices have gone utterly unanswered during business hours, the sheer number of emails that have disappeared into the ether or been answered far too late . All because some people don't seem to give a...care.
While talking with a friend a few weeks back I asked her why the phones (mobile and stationary) didn't have message service/answering machines/answerphones, and she reminded me that during Communism most everything was government monopoly, so the customer (or the new business inquiry) was not a priority, they'd get to you when they got you. This attitude seems to have carried through very nicely up to today's "market economy", and I can only pray that the people here get hip soon. I mean you know you've got a problem on your hands, when I miss this:
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I have been here six months and have managed to carve out a decent amount of fluency in Slovene. Though The Captain (who I speak to in English 90% of the time) somtetimes giggles when I speak Slovenian (he says I sound like his 5-year old niece), I would wager to say I am at a "functional" level.
While some bloggers have blogged about the fact that you will never learn this ridiculously confusing language, I would like to slip on my rose colored glasses and talk about how you can and will learn the language.
HOW TO (KINDA) LEARN SLOVENE
1) Get yourself a book - I have a few instructional books and most of them are full of glaring spelling and grammatical errors, but nonetheless they are helpful and better than nothing. What most of them lack in grammar help they more than make up for with basic phrases and vocabulary. The best one I've encountered this far is A,B,C, 1, 2, 3...Gremo! It is the instructional book for Center for Slovene as A Second Language - which is connected to the university.
2) Find some people to talk to*
It is helpful to me to have The Captain to talk to since he speaks both Slovene and English fluently, but honestly he has not really been that much of a help. It's been much better hitting the streets and talking to the people at the post office and the drug store, and the supermarket and the person who has been the biggest help of all is The Captain's mother. She doesn't speak English so I have no choice but to get it all out the best way I know how, with her trailing after and cleaning up my grammatical mistakes as I go along.
3) Surround yourself
I keep a big dry erase board next to my desk and periodically up date it with new words. When I find a word on the board that I've used a few times and am comfortable with I remove it and replace it with something new. I get a lot of new words for the board by doing step number 4.....
This seemed like a totally gargantuan task when I first got here, so I was slogging through children's books with my handy ASP slovar by my side, but I soon tired of Pika Polonica (ladybug stores). So I started reading the actual news. I work in journalism so it only made sense. In no time, you will know the meanings of such words as nameravati, odgovornosti, naložb, učinkovitost, javna uprava, and raziskovati (just to name a few). So get your slovar (dictionary) and get translating/reading!
5) Watch TV
Ahhh, the joys of watching Slovenian television, all of the non-Slovene programs are subtitled, so you can sit there with your note pad and take note of new words and their meanings. Similarly, you can watch Slovenian programming (most of which is news programs) and jot down words that you hear regularly to look up in the slovar or ask one of your handy friends to explain it to you. Just make sure you ask an English-speaking friend otherwise you might get yourself in a never-ending game of charades
6) Take a Course
This is the obvious way to do it, but I haven't taken any courses yet. I am certainly looking forward to it though. It will be like going into a hospital triage. I'll be wielding my broken Slovene and hoping the teacher will be kind enough to suture it up for me.
HERE ARE A FEW OTHER FACTORS THAT MAY HELP
- photographic memory
- the ability to mimic others without embarassment
OK, now get studying!
*BTW, I strongly recommend that people living in Ljubljana (where it seems every shop attendant and waiter thinks they are being helpful by automatically switching to English), take treks to the outskirts where you are certain to find tough old gostilna barmaids and greying tractor drivers who don't have the first clue about English but are still willing to talk to you.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I love that The Captain's mom always runs over to tell me when she sees any Africans (or Slovene speaking Americans) on television. This is exactly what my own mother does any time I go home for visit (and what she did all throughout my childhood), "CAMILLE, COME LOOK!"
Anyway, as a result of such beckoning I ended up watching Die Weisse Masai (The White Masai) last night. This movie was a hot racist mess of the highest order, but darn if I didn't keep watching. It was totally guilty entertainment with pretty good cinematography.
Hey, they made a sequel to Mandingo? No.
This movie is supposedly one Swiss woman's "true story" of going to live with this (mostly mute and mildly insane) Masai(actually he was Samburu not Masai) man in his village with no running water or electricity. As far as I can tell, this woman was never in love at all, she just seemed to be fascinated with the "exoticness" and mostly just plumb out of her mind. And of course, as is the case with films like this the African people get a bad rap as being corrupt, backwards, irrational, and stubborn....but (on the bright side?)they are surprisingly phenomenal lovers (oh dear, good grief).
While there were a few moments early on in the movie where the woman's experience resonated with my own, I hope people don't think I'm anything like her. I am not here for some exotic party or to come up with a story I can sell for a fat book advance. I love The Captain and all but... no talking? no electricity? no water? living in a mud hut? Not happenin, my man. Anyone who goes into some dumb mess like that does not deserve a movie made about them, they need a swift kick in the pants.
So anyway, I don't recommend this movie. In fact, I un-recommend it, so if you choose to watch it don't come whining to me because you've been warned.
BTW, you can read a good, but not scathing enough, review of the film here).
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
I am working on a lengthy post with tips for learning the Slovene language, but today while I've been proofreading I realized that if you want to learn Slovene, it might be good to explore a bit of Yodaspeak. Yes, Yoda from Star Wars. You see in Slovene, it is often times acceptable to put the noun before the verb. Like "To store, I am going." or "Learn, I will." "Tired, I am." Stuff like that.
For this reason, I sometimes have a hard time explaining edits I've made to the Slovene writers, and for this reason I sometimes have a hard time figuring out whether someone just did something or is going to do something.
For example, "šla sem" means "go, I did " (feminine) and "šla bom" means "go, I will."
Anyway, check out Yoda, feel my pain, and if you are also studying Slovene then study hard, you must, Young Luke...
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The Captain and I took a little jaunt down to the seaside, and nipped around the Slovenia/Croatia border. I always like going down there because it is gorgeous and reminds me of Ghana.
Tourism season hasn't started just yet so it was pretty ghostly quiet and peaceful down there.
all these people were wandering around the tall grassy areas looking for wild mushrooms and asparagus. this woman was selling asparagus
Thursday, April 10, 2008
The Initiative of Five at a meeting in New York, 1960
Gregor and other people kept mentioning this "thing"to me, a "thing" in which Yugoslavia used to be a part of with a bunch of other countries including many African nations. As a result of said "thing" there were a lot of Africans coming to work and study in Yugoslavia and a lot of Yugoslavians going to work in Africa (and other places). I was never quite sure was this "thing" was so I finally sat down and Google'd it.
It turns out it was the Non-Aligned Movement. A group of nations whose purpose, according to the Wiki, is/was to ensure "the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries" in their "struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, Zionism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics." Wow! People used to have big ideas 50 years ago! I guess all that just sounds like crazy talk now. The picture at the heading of this entry features the founding members AKA "The Initiative of Five" (Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Sukarno of Indonesia and Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia). This picture is a great find, and I am most excited to see Nkrumah and Tito together since my family is from Ghana!
The group certainly seems to have had its ups and downs since the end of the Cold War, and the movement has weakened considerably, with most of the European countries have deserted the group to get (or vie for) EU membership. Nonetheless, my discovery of this group, has got me excited about the past and the future. It makes me feel like things are not so startling new here in Slovenia. It makes me feel like the world isn't so big and strange after all, and even though things have changed a lot in the last 50 years, maybe I'm just here to work with and live amongst long-lost old friends.