My current suitemates are two boys–one from Italy, one from Belgium. They are both here to learn English and have kept me sufficiently entertained my first week here. Andrea, the Italian, cannot understand my name, although I have repeatedly tried to spell it, write it, and sound it out for him. He gets too flustered and says that to him, my name is “Sandy”. Where he got Sandy from is very unclear, but nonetheless, I now answer to Sandy. Last night, Andrea made me a full Italian dinner–pasta pomodorini, prosciutto, and parmesan cheese. Delicious is an understatement. I can’t even imagine how amazing the meals are when he is cooking in Italy, and I especially can’t imagine his mother’s cooking, which even he raves about.
He works in his father’s factory back in Italy and is learning English so he can travel to Korea, Brazil, and many other places to sell the kitchen appliances they make. When I asked him if he was coming to the United States he said no, but he only wants to come if he can go to Las Vegas and play roulette. When we were comparing music choices, there were several artists in common (his favorites: Santana, Pink, and Jennifer Lopez). I had the honor of introducing him to country music. As I was explaining it to him and playing some Luke Bryan, his eyes lit up and he said, “Oh! Texas music!”. Obviously our American stereotypes hold true across the world.
Quentin, the one from Belgium, came back from class today and was asking me about American idioms, as that was the topic in class for the day. He told me learned that it was offensive to ask someone if they are sick because that means you are assuming they are mentally ill. We got into a whole discussion about the word “sick” and as I was explaining it to him, I realized there are about a thousand different meanings to the word: ill, disgusting, perverted, psychotic, cool…the list goes on. I have a newfound appreciation for these boys learning the English language. I had never sat down to think about how confusing and complicated it is, but they really do have their work cut out for them!