Image above: Jon, a great traveller, brother-in-law and friend. Photo credit: Rita.
My parents met at language school, learning Hindustani and I learned to speak in remote village in the Himalayas. A sister and two brothers later, at the age of twelve, I went to secondary school in Kent, “the garden of England”.
The Kentish school had a strong language department. It arranged penpals for us, mainly in France, so that we could go on exchange visits and there was a language lab to practise language structures and listening skills. We had visiting French and German students to help with conversation, and a blind lady, “Madame”. She used to have a braille book of poems open while she coached us kindly but relentlessly until we were pronouncing things right.
We also learned Latin, Spanish and a few words of Italian. With such a fortuitous start, I could hardly not be interested in languages, but was not the most applied student and became impatient with the literary approach. I remember wanting to learn words that would be useful in a job, such as “invoice” rather than several way to describe light.
Well, I got my wish. After getting married, and the birth of two adorable children, I studied export at our kitchen table and later worked in that field for some years before deciding to go University as a mature student in order to learn words such as shining, sparkling and glowing. Mmmm.
Those three years in Norwich, in the east of England were magical and I met some truly inspired lecturers and good friends. I would like to write about inspired teachers in future posts and to hear about your own.
The degree course also required a year in France, which I spent in Rennes, more material there, for posts …
Then came some sad years including divorce after 22 years of marriage. Books were a solace, especially Herman Hesse´s literary output, which I systematically devoured from start to finish with help from our local library. I read these in English translation, except “Knulp”, the story of a tramp, which I liked enough to buy in German.
Then I met the wonderful Udo, we recently got married after 15 years, filled with holidays and adventure. We learned to paraglide as a millennium project and later flew the French Pyrenees together. Now we live in Germany, in his home town.