Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Transitions 1

Of course language has been the biggest transition. It is funny how little I noticed that I read every little sign that was posted in the States. Billboards, Street signs, bumper stickers and those little cardboard tents restaurants set on the tables. You just don't notice these things until you have all of them to see and none of them in your language. At first it was frustrating not to know what all the advertising was about, but of course I got over that quickly.

It is funny too in the grocery store how much I have relied on the pictures on products to help me decide if I should buy the product or not. Sometimes I just can't figure out what the product is by the picture that is portrayed. It is amazing just how much the language barrier can make you feel so helpless. I am planning on having a Lithuanian friend take me through the grocery store and give me a real good tour:)

I am learning to read body language a whole lot better too, though I've been wrong a lot. To me it sounds like this culture seems to have a bent towards "angry" tones when they are not angry at all. When listening to a friend talk with another friend in Lithuanian, I would ask,"Are you guys mad?" and the answer was always,"No." Could have fooled me. It sounded like a heated debate, but that is just the way they talk around here. They seem surprised when I ask. It is funny to watch another culture interact through my own cultural filter.

I have really learned how to be with people and not always understand everything that is said. I am also learning how to be quiet in a group. That is a feat in an of itself. It has made me a better listener and when I meet someone who speaks English I am so ready to listen because I am eager to hear my native tongue. Something I have struggled with for years. Listening and REALLY being interested in what is being said.

What is also interesting is speaking with people who's 3rd or 4th language is English. I often have to translate what they "might" be meaning by what they have said. Nothing is inferred. Something as simple as directions: "It's on the other side of the store" may not mean that it is next to the store at all, but quite possibly that it is across the street. I always have to clarify what I have heard to make sure I have heard it accurately. There are many misunderstandings that go on and that is just part of life:) We all learn to roll with it.

As a challenge to you, if you meet someone who is new to the country. Please invite them to take a trip to the grocery store with you. One afternoon. It is simple things like this that make all the difference in the world. It makes the transition to a new country that much easier! To them you represent the whole country.........

Monday, January 7, 2008

Our kids are funny.....

A man at church from the states was introducing the next handbell piece that would be played. He spoke English. After introducing a few more songs Sonshyne leans over to me and states clearly,"I don't think he knows Lithuanian. He speaks California."