28.2.12

A funny thing happens in France

Last week we went to France for Semana Blanca. Several of our friends in the US made comments about how lucky we were. And we were lucky because being able to spend time together and visit a foreign country is super lucky. But, just to be clear. Saying we're going skiing in France here is sort of like saying, we're going skiing in Pennsylvania. Not that there is anything wrong with the Poconos. I love the Poconos...but it's not the big named, high mountain, challenging slopes that you think of when you think..."skiing in Europe." That being said, Font Romeu is a lovely little town, very quaint and French, right over the border between France and Spain. It is super easy to get there and sells AMAZING blueberry jams. Truth be told it's why we go back...and for the muffins. They used to have great blueberry muffins at the lodge but not this year. So, it's the jam.
The morning after we arrived I woke up with a fever. I wasn't planning on skiing anyway. I'm not much of a skier and we already went skiing once in Vermont this year (see...lucky). But I hadn't planned on spending the week sick. Nevertheless, sick I was, although not horribly sick...only fever, achy, how many days until we go home sick. And luckily for me, Alexa had hurt her arm playing basketball and was under doctor's orders to not snowboard so she kept me company.


We usually went into town once a day to do a little shopping and eat lunch. And about the third day I decided to stop by the pharmacy to see if they would sell me antibiotics. In Spain, (I love this country) they will sell you antibiotics if you know what you are asking for. So here is the funny thing that happens everytime we cross the border. My Spanish becomes flawless. Seriously, here in Spain, I struggle to find the words I need to get my point across. I agonize about which tense to use...and bumble my way through. In France...I've got nothing to say in French. And my brain automatically assumes these lovely kind French people can understand Spanish and it comes out flawlessly....and to no avail because half the time they do not understand Spanish either, which is a story for another time. The country is literally ten minutes away you'd think it would come in handy. But, no. Or it could be that my Spanish is still awful even in Spain. But never the less...the angst is always gone. I have no idea why. Maybe it's because it's a Hail Mary pass thrown in a last ditch effort to be understood. Who knows. I just find it fascinating that without thought or reason when someone starts speaking French to me, Spanish just comes right back out. The women in the Pharmacy did understand my limited attempts to get antibiotic-turns out you have to see a doctor in France. I definitely didn't have enough French for that.
   I read recently that you learn a second language in a different part of the brain then the first one. They found this out when stroke patients lost their first language but not their second. And also, recently, I was told that learning a second language holds off the onset of Alzheimer's Disease. So, I'm going to keep working at my Spanish...and try to remember to learn a few things in French so that the next time I go I've got something to say. They really do have fabulous blueberry jam.

3 comments:

april said...

Fascinating - not your flu, the second language. I do not have a head for languages, never did. However, Little Miss and I are learning sign language very slowly. Well, American Sign Language, but my app offers British and Chinese Sign so maybe we'll branch out afterwards. :)

Brenda said...

I don't have a heard for languages either...but if it helps in either case, stroke or Alzheimer's then I'm all for it! Plus, that little thing about communicating with the locals while I'm here. (grin) My girls have been watching Switched at Birth and trying to pick up American Sign Language that way. They've looked some things up online but not enough to be useful. That is awesome that you are learning it! I wonder if it is easier because there is a physical component to it?

Brenda said...

head...not heard.lol I don't have a head for languages.