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Category: Language

Navigating Singlish as an English-speaking foreigner

While several of my exchange student friends have noted that one of their main reasons for choosing Singapore as their study abroad destination is that they would not have to face a language barrier, they also report that the reality is far from their expectations. In their defense, it is true that English is Singapore’s

Becoming francophone

I have a lot of respect for those who go to countries where they don’t speak the language at all. I took French all throughout middle school and high school, and though it was a big help in figuring out my life here in Paris, I still felt like I was constantly running into language

One Month In

Bonsoir! It’s Sunday evening here in Paris, and I’m finally taking some time to sit down and stream-of-consciousness out some little sentences that will eventually get strung together into a coherent blog post. But first, some scene-setting: it’s cold, gray, been sprinkling all day, and I feel mildly sick. But I also had one of

我看不懂汉字(I see, but don’t understand Chinese characters.)

When I first landed in Hong Kong, only of the most striking features of the new city-scape was, naturally, that Chinese characters were everywhere. Initially knowing next-to-nothing, I have grown to find the city to be like an elaborate puzzle or mystery: the more characters I come to learn and recognize, the more meaning I


Already October and already feeling like a lot has changed. For one my cooking has improved markedly, though that’s my diligent budgeting so I can afford a weekly meal at the sceney juice bar du jour near Sciences Po and an occasional trip to Chercheminippes, my favorite consignment shop on rue du Cherche-Midi. I now

Language Barrier

Here at Koc University, I am enrolled in a Turkish language course for the semester. Turkish comes from the Altaic language family, so it’s grammer, structure, and vocabulary are very different from English or other Indo European languages. I’ll be honest, I’m not doing super hot. It’s sometimes hard to motivate myself to try to


by Savannah Birnbaum The semester so far feels a lot like walking up a down-moving escalator.  I must do everything! Go everywhere! Have the most effortlessly awesome Facebook photos! But school and time and life and money and—agh! I have the best problems, I know. Of course I’ve lately been consumed by adjustments to a bilingual course


The first few weeks of this trip have been a flurry of paperwork and a healthy dose of confusion, chock full of conversations with folks back home just to check in and convince them I’m still alive. That last part will be a learning curve, I think. I have  joined the debate club (because I know that’s

Ready for Istanbul (?)

Merhaba! I can picture it already, alone in Istanbul Ataturk Airport, completely and utterly lost. I try to decipher the signs using my copy of “Turkish for Dummies” only to find myself even more confused. I finally manage to make my way over to the baggage claim section. Baggage claim is always a stressful and


  Here we are, folks. The fateful night! I arrived to the airport and my travel buddy, Caroline, is beside me; we’re shoving mixed nuts into our mouths to avoid dancing through the terminal like two Fred Astaires in some kind of sad YouTube version of Funny Face. She and I are doing the Sciences