The biggest challenge I think you stumble across when moving to a foreign country is coming across as yourself. Obviously, I’ve been myself since moving here but when you think about it a great deal of our personality and identity comes from how we verbally communicate – particularly when you are from a low context culture like ours (I’ve been revising cultural differences for exams… can you tell?). Whether it be your accent, your wit, your sarcasm, your colourful or complex choice of language… When you speak in another language you are trying to communicate the things that you’ve spent a lifetime learning to say eloquently with the linguistic skills of a child. I have been lucky in that I speak reasonable Italian and also that being in musical situations is a really good way of getting to know people regardless of the language barrier. The whole gesture thing, which I must reiterate is no exaggerated stereotype, is a massive help too. Having been here over four months I feel that only now do people really know me well. I have increasingly become aware of people who are interested in being friends with me because they like who I am and people who are probably more interested in practising their English. I’m glad to have found a significant number of the first kind! Thankfully they still like me as they’ve got to know me (I hope), regardless of the fact that I do odd things like sing Sarnia Cherie at passers by from my balcony (happy Liberation day Guernsey!). To anyone moving to a country with a different language – keep smiling or pull a funny face and people don’t mind that you’re not making any sense… they’ll work you out in the end. 🙂
I’ve recently joined a new choir filled with more lovely people; some are Italian, some English and some are American. Last week at a rehearsal an Italian thought that I was saying that the rehearsal was pointless and we should all go home – what I was actually doing was suggesting that we beat time and so I conducted a basic 4/4. Brilliant misinterpretation… hopefully not some kind of subliminal message. When I was at home in Guernsey for the week at Easter I was told by my family that I was using my hands like an Italian – which I was quite proud of. Next blog post has got to be the idiots guide to Italian gestures…
In other news, I am in the middle of exams which end on Friday – hoorah! It’s pretty stressful but so far I think they’ve gone okay. Exams here are a little odd. One teacher told me to stop getting more paper in the exam because he had to mark it all, which apparently is standard Italian mentality but I found it totally confusing. My classmates laugh at me for my ‘English’ ways – by that I mean that I asked for a clock in the exam, like to start on time and don’t want people to talk during the exam. Am I really so crazy?
Speaking of crazy, I’ve started the 60 day Insanity workout, which to be honest feels like torture. For the record, ‘cardio recovery’ includes no aspect of recovery, it just hurts some more. Still, it’s only been a week so I’ll keep at it and see whether I look like Beyoncé in few weeks… here’s hoping! I’m also proud to say that I introduced some Italians to Eurovision on Saturday. Italians have surprisingly never heard of Eurovision even though they enter it every year. Needless to say we had a fantastic time swishing our hair with Spain, dramatically crying with Conchita and relishing the awkward video call silences. We were just lacking the Graham Norton commentary. Italians don’t do sarcasm half as well. Once I’ve finished these exams I’ll be doing lots of cello playing, composing and enjoying the dolce vita without the stress of studying. This weekend I played in La Serva Padrona by Pergolesi which was filmed, so for anyone who is interested, the video is below! For now, I had better return to memorising a 600 page marketing book – wish me luck!