Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Les mots ou les paroles?

I've made a few gross misunderstandings since coming to Grenoble in french conversation. I always feel thoroughly embarrassed when it happens, despite the fact that I do it so often in english. Perhaps because when I do it in english, it's a reflection of my concentration span rather than my comprehension skills.

It's funny how misunderstanding or simply not knowing the meaning of one word can cause such major communication problems! This weekend for example, I went away with the youth group at church and after dinner on Saturday there was announcement made about how we were going to "faire les châtaignes". Now this caused some excitement but left me completely bewildered since I hadn't the faintest idea what les châtaignes were! In the end I had to ask someone and I eventually managed to work out what it was - see photo below and let me know if you still don't know what it is! :P

It just hit home how important words can be!

Words... so potent, so loaded... I crave them! A couple of weeks ago I discovered many joyous libraries in Grenoble, most notably la biblotheque internatinale. But before I made this discovery I first found la biblotheque centre-ville; just your average french library with lots and lots of books in french. By this point I'd been deprived of books in english for almost 3 weeks (apart from my bible - not necessarily a bad thing!) and so felt drawn to scour the library until I found the one and only thing I could read in english - a copy of Newsweek dating back to April of this year. I devoured it, page by page... it tasted surprisingly good but rather than satisfying merely whetted my appetite. I then munched on a novel in french, the first couple of chapters anyway and was left feeling half-stoked, half-utterly unsatisfied.

It occured to me that words which mean so much can at the same time be so empty, insufficient. I feel this a lot right now, caught between 2 extremes... whilst trying to relate to people in french when my vocab is so limited I often end up resorting to lots of gesturing and sounds and facial expression to get my real meaning across, whereas so much of my communication with folks at home is right now is mostly reliant just on words. Both, though exciting, aren't quite enough.

Thinking about all this hit home the aptness of this description of Jesus. And yet this concept far surpasses my understanding of "word" : He fully expresses God and is satisfying and complete in all that He is and offers us! Mind-blowing!
I am also very very glad that God doesn't simply rely on our words to understand and listen to us and that he reads beneath, right into our souls! :)

I'm hungry.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Colis et Cellos

It has been a very exciting couple of days here in Dishland

1. I received 2 positively wonderful parcels from 2 positively wonderful people!

2. Turns out that hiring cellos isn't really that expensive after all in Grenoble and so...

(dish does dance round the table) I HAVE A CELLO!!!!! IhaveacelloIhaveacelloIhaveacelloIhaveacello!!!!

I have a CELLO

As you can gather I am just a little bit delighted by this

Monday, October 09, 2006


I have to say I have felt so incredibly welcomed by the church here in Grenoble! Every single Sunday since I have arrived here (yesterday was my fourth) I've had lunch with a family... though I must say yesterdays lunch was a little different from most...
You see, yesterday, I discovered not all French people have their hearts set on eating les grenouilles...

I met a young girl yesterday simply besotted with the creatures... The very first thing she said to me of her own accord was - "tu aimes les grenouilles?" Of course using my knowledge of French culture whilst employing Grice's maxims I replied with, I don't know, I've never tasted them, the response was not one which I expected.
After a fabby lunch, a raclette to be exact and some origami... of sorts

we went to a very beautiful conservation area pour chercher les grenouilles... apparently not always the easiest of tasks, in amongst feeding ducks, and skimming stones. I learnt so much new vocab such as....

une libellule - a dragonfly
un cygnet - a swan
faire un ricochet - to skim stones
faire du ski nautique - water skiing
ni oui ni non - the yes/no game (i finally managed to out trick the aforementioned young lady in the end though it took a while!)
un tetard - a tadpole

Meet Raphaelle... a well-developed tetard with budding legs

It was soooo nice to get out of the city even just for one afternoon! Beeeeeyoooootiful

There now leaps somewhere in a lake in Grenoble, a frog by the name of Dish

Saturday, October 07, 2006

s'installer petit à petit

This week I learnt several things

- That it is possible to be paid for doing nothing
- I will have a loooot of free time this year!
- There is such a thing as a keen teenager... I was practically interrogated by 2 college classes yesterday when I had to introduce myself to them, a class of 13 year olds and a class of 14/15 year olds!
- Le Ska does exist and is actually quite popular in France! Went to a free student-filled gig on Thursday night and twas an eye opener.

- "Le slam" (crowd-surfing) is a popular activity at french gigs... especially when there seems to be no security to be seen. Every 30 seconds (no exaggeration) we saw the silhouette of someone climb up on stage wave their arms for a bit and then leap off again after which the silhouette of flailing legs could often be seen.
- International libraries rock!
- Seems I can drink ridiculous amounts of tea and stay up till silly hours no matter what country I'l in! :)

Bring on week 4...

Monday, October 02, 2006


Our assistantship "stage" (training course) for the Grenoble region was held in a massive youth centre place in a ickle town Autrans which I think must subsist on trips like ours and on tourist ski-trips in winter.

Anyhoo... on this stage which had all assistants in the region in one place and I mean all assistants... of languages English, German, Spanish and Italian... I assumed that this would mean there would be assistants from Britain, Germany, maybe somewhere like Austria or Switzerland and of course Spain and Italy are a given.

I was wrong.

I spoke to assistants from... deep breath... Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, just about every state in the USA (loads of them from there!), Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Argentina, Germany, Austria, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Spain, Italy...

I learnt so many random facts about different cultures: from the ridiculousness of the American voting system to Argentinian prices in comparison to France, to Jamaican food to English/Scottish/US slang and there was even a guy from Glasgow uni who I hadn't properly met before with Glasgow-sickness to reminisce with!

Any excuse to wax lyrical about the aforementioned concept

Et enfin some much-missed pubbage was had

not quite uisge but equally banterous
though I must say, not liking this lack of smoking ban here, I didn't realise how much I'd become accustomed to getting home and night and not smelling like a chimney... tant pis

Aaaah and how could I forget!!!!
The food... was spendiferously spiffingly scrumdiddilyumptious! I exclaimed so much excitement and delight with every course that people started to comment..
. Bran, you would have been proud