Born lucky

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.

Paragliding in the French Pyrenees

Paragliding in the French Pyrennes

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6 Responses to Born lucky

  1. Kathryn Bayly says:

    Brilliant Jen, your giving me some much needed inspiration.

  2. Aw, shucks. Thanks Kathryn. Surprised to hear that you need inspiration though, you are always full of new schemes from snowboarding, via jewellery-making to gardening on various continents. Anyway, good luck with whatever is next!

  3. Rosie Handford says:

    Wow, what a comprehensive website! There is so much to find on here, something for everyone.

    • Hi Rosie
      Thanks for your comment.
      … and the net is so full of new things that I keep finding.
      Two blogs which I have been reading today are fluentin3months.com and rtwblog.com
      It is easy to be sceptical about fluency in three months but this guy focuses on speaking, and is remarkably succesful. I want to read more.
      RTW stands for round the world, which the author of it did without baggage. It makes for fascinating reading if you like travel.

  4. I finally got the blog address off Kathryn. We will definately be referring to it when we start learning Italian in the new year. Thanks for the hints!

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