Thursday, January 24, 2013

Not-Understandings Happen

I already shared the troubles I had to go through with understanding spoken English just when I came here. I mentioned that my best guess was to avoid direct eye contact and smile to look like I know what's going on. Today, after spending some time here I do just the opposite, which would definitely top the list of 10 Things Every Foreigner in USA Should Know (if I ever had one).

That advice is: if you don't understand something, say it. As much as embarrassing this may feel at first, it'll get easier with time and will certainly pay back. I know why I didn't do it at first: I didn't want to be viewed as a "dumb foreigner" who can't even speak English. Now that I've lived here for a while and feeling like my English is good enough as it is, I don't need to prove this point to anyone.

I think it's just normal not to know some words, not to recognize the well-known names and titles (because often they sound different from what they do in my native language) and not to get some jokes. In moderation, of course.

I've received various reactions to me admitting I didn't know a word or two:
disbelief  - my infamous "Taylor Swift minute of shame"
adoration - "Oh it's so cute that you don't know what XYZ is"
admiration - "No worries, your English is still waaaay better than my XXX language"

As to the reasons why I think if everyone who doesn't know, doesn't recognize or doesn't understand stuff they are told should pause and ask, here's why. You avoid possible embarrassment in the future, when the conversation continues to refer the object of your ignorance and you are asked to express your opinion about it. You learn something new. And hey, it makes you look cute :) jk

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Come to our Pharmacy, We've Got Drugs for You

Who's next in line for booze or to pick up a prescription?

Let me talk about CVS, RiteAid, Wallgreens. You know, the places I go to get Bacardi and Coke at 11 pm on a Friday night. Oh, wait, that's not what you normally go there for?

Imagine my surprise when I discovered:
a. Pharmacies are called Drugstores (I knew medicine and pills, I had no idea you can call them drugs as well) and
b. You can actually get drugs there, I mean, alcohol. And a nice selection too. Did I mention the deals here are much better than in your average corner liquor store?

Not that I am complaining about anything. These days I love CVS pharmacy precisely for the reasons mentioned above. But I would be lying if I say I didn't question the moral and ethical and logical standards at first when I walked in for painkillers and found myself walking around the shelves generously stacked with cheap wine.

I bet american folks have no idea that might seem strange to anyone. Good thing I'm here to share all about it.