Thursday, April 24, 2008

In Case You Were Wondering...

We are starting to make our list of names...let us know if you have favorites you want us to add to the list!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Talk about Multicultural

Last night we went to dinner at a new friend's house. It was a fun group of people, 11 of us total, and we had 5 different native languages (English (2), Portuguese (4), Spanish (1), German (3), and Turkish (1)). Not something that would happen all that often in Burlington, Vermont! That is definitely one of the interesting aspects of living in Europe. In some respects Dan and I are at an advantage, because in these situations the default language is usually English, though Portuguese and German both worked their way into conversations last night. In other ways we are at a disadvantage, because for those that have grown up in Europe, learning and using multiple languages is not something new. For example, one of the Portuguese guys at dinner has nearly perfect English, plus speaks Spanish (as most Portuguese can to some extent), some French (also very common), can get by in Finnish as a result of living there during school, and is now working on his German. In the US we consider ourselves renaissance men if we can speak one other language! Oh yeah, and he's only 27.

It helps that some of these languages are close in both structure and vocabulary, in particular, Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish. A few weeks ago when Dan was in Milan for work, he said his Portuguese colleagues could speak to the Italians in Portuguese, and the Italians would respond in Italian, and everyone understood enough of the conversation to make it work. Similarly, we have heard that once we know Portuguese we will be able to understand Spanish, though our Portuguese probably won't be understood by most Spanish speakers (the Portuguese say that the Spanish have always looked down on them and see no reason to try to understand their language). The fact that many Americans have to travel thousands of miles to even have the opportunity to really try other languages is amazing to most Europeans, while for us, the fact that they are exposed to and able to speak so many is a fact we are extremely jealous of. It also seems to make them much less inhibited to try to use their language skills, while I bumble along and lose all confidence in my Portuguese if I am unsure of my verb tenses or prepositions. I know no one cares -- I realize I don't care when non-native English speakers make mistakes -- I just need to convince myself now. I'll work on it.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Not much to Report

Hello again. It seems that we haven’t given you all an update in a little bit, but that’s mostly because there’s not too much to report. In many ways I think that’s a good thing. When we first got here everything was new and exciting, and as the time has passed by (7+ months now) we’ve established a life here. The last few weekends we’ve stayed in Aveiro, but always with some social plans with friends. Dinner out, dinner in, the bar scene, etc. Actually the bar scene is kind of fun here, although a bit late for us. It’s very low key and in nice weather (last weekend was summerlike) people just gather outside near the bars and hang out. They don’t drink much alcohol in this culture, so mostly people just kind of sip on a beer and chat for a few hours. So lately it seems we’ve become social, although we’ll be sure to not get too used to it since having a baby in September will surely change all that.

In other news, Tuga went in for his second surgery this past week. This one was to fix his leg as we were waiting on it until all his internal injuries were healed. So now he has another large shaved patch, another big scar, and we hope that this will get him back to being able to be a normal cat once he recovers from this one.