My Name is One Kilo of Beef

In this now 15 part series about our journey to Niger (via the UK) I've shared with you how we got there, what it was like there, some exciting things, some everyday things and some of our fun experiences. Before I talk about our journey back to Australia (via Papua New Guinea) I want to share a few fun things that we encountered culturally but not with our African friends.

Much of the time I think we assume that if you speak English you also share culture. We discovered in the UK that this isn't completely true and went through culture shock there. Many of our co-workers in Niamey were either from the United States or Canada with the exception of our friend Kevin who was from New Zealand and a group of friends from England. We had many and varied experiences with our co-workers where either we couldn't understand them or vice versa - and we all spoke the same language!

Some of us short-termers at the Plateau
(I'm the one in the white top and stripey skirt)

Now, before I share some of these let me say that we love our co-workers and pretty much all of these experiences ended with laughter. Our confusion spanned from how we pronounced the word basil (we say bazil with a short 'a', most of the others say baysil), to us saying 'I'm just going to ring you up' and our friends in fits of laughter over that. Things like 'have you seen my sunnies' causing confused looks on our American student's faces or me spending 10 minutes in the classroom trying to get across the word 'dawn' which we pronounce dorn and our North American friends pronounce don. Boy the kids were confused about that one till I wrote it on the board.

Our Canadian friends used the term 'brights' for what we call 'high beams' and we use the term 'bonnet' and they use the term 'hood'. It was the cause of much laughter when near the end of our year in Niger I was the passenger in the short-termer's car (pictured left) with a Canadian friend when she said to me 'I'd better put on my high beams' and then shortly after when we arrived at our destination I said 'you've got to pop the hood'. Somehow our vocabularly (we'd say vocab) had rubbed off on each other!

The most confusing experience happened early on when we were trying to learn a little French. At the same time a long-termer who was in charge of hospitality had replaced our fridge (pictured) for us and when she saw us at church she said, in her thick southern accent 'how's yer french?', we went on to say it wasn't that good and we were really struggling with it which was received with confused looks. It was only later in the conversation when she said that she didnt' understand how it could be so bad as it was recently serviced that we realised she'd said 'how's yer fridge?' not 'how's yer French?'. Caused a few laughs!

I must say that not all the confusion came from our co-workers. I once ordered a few lamb chops from our school cook (pictured right) who got our meat for us and when I arrived to pick it up he was asking me how I wanted my lemons chopped (he thought I'd said 'lemon' in my Aussie accent not 'lamb'). Don't think you can get lamb chops there much anyway!! We came away with a big bag of lemons.

Finally, I managed to embarress myself in the area of mixups when I went into the butcher's in town one day and instead of saying(in French, being brave to try it out) 'I would like one kilo of beef' I said 'my name is one kilo of beef' which is easy to do if you know the two words for 'I would like' and 'my name is' (I can't spell them in French!). This was met with a smirk and grin as the butcher carefully weighed the meat for me!!

So, if you are going to go short-term anywhere you will find that your experiences may range from the exciting, the everyday or even embaressing but they will always memorable!

Part 1 - Position Available
Part 2 - The Year was 1999
Part 3 - Red Dirt or Green Grass
Part 4 - Preparations and Going the UK
Part 5 - But I's Dark and it's only 4.30pm!
Part 6 - Laying Out the Fleece
Part 7 - Oh, That's Why We're Here!
Part 8 - Shakin in my long skirt and sandals
Part 9 - You won't mind teaching history will you?
Part 10 - Gas Canisters on the Roof
Part 11 - The Tree Attack
Part 12 - Galmi and the Toebiters
Part 13 - Say (sigh)
Part 14 - Three Showers a Day and Nems


Blogger Corry said...

That's funny!
I had (have) some of those experiences myself, being dutch I sometimes translate it literally into english, which can cause some confusion, but they are not as hilarious as yours. grin.

God's Grace.

11:14 pm  
Blogger Hannatu said...

I loved this one, Amanda. We always get hoots of laughter when we refer to "pants". Seems much of the rest of the English speaking world thinks we're talking about underwear!! :) The first time I ate with an Australian family, the children wanted to know what was for pudding. So, I thought the choices would be chocolate, vanilla, or butterscotch. Was I surprised when the mother of the family brought out cake! I couldn't figure out how cake translated into pudding! LOL By the way, your picture is still in the dining room. I checked last night.

4:31 pm  

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