Is it possible to fit two people and a bicycle on a scooter? Can you fashion a scarf into a sling for carrying around a cat? To find out the answer to these bizarre questions and to catch up on my three month Greek fluency challenge, keep reading.
I wonder how she got on with that three month Greek fluency challenge?
A few of you have thought it, there have been mutterings of support in the comments section and I’ve had a few emails referencing it. I was hoping you might have forgotten about the challenge I set myself. I could have deleted the original blog post along with all the comments and denied all knowledge of it’s existence. What three month Greek fluency challenge? No, You must have remembered wrong.
The trouble is, that’s not me. I can’t delete it, I can’t accuse you of being mistaken, I did set myself that challenge. Over the last 12 weeks you may have imagined me studying away, diligently glued to my books, reluctant to leave the house, hardly passing food and drink past my lips. In your mind I’m a dedicated student, relentless in my efforts to learn Greek. I really wish I could live up to your expectations but I’m going to have to shatter the illusion. I’ve let you down. I’ve been a terrible student. The guilt has been eating away at me, well you know…it has a little bit…It flashed through my mind as I did the washing up at work one morning.
At this point, by my own reckoning, I should be babbling away in Greek effortlessly. I should have almost 200 hours under my belt. I should be writing to tell you that I’m almost there. Shall I tell you about my failures or successes first? Let’s get the worst bit out the way first.
What went wrong?
Firstly, the challenge was too intense. When I set myself the task, I was at home by myself with nothing else to occupy me. Mr SN was in the UK and I’d got very used to not working and having nothing else to do. Completing four hours of studying a day was achievable, if a little excessive.
Suddenly, I went from twiddling my thumbs to working most mornings. What’s more, the chore of having to cycle to work took up time and effort. In addition my mum arrived, so I was no longer on my own, I hadn’t seen her in 7 months, so there was a lot to catch up on. Another reason is that I was also simultaneously undertaking another time consuming project. I don’t want to mention what that other project is right now, but I ended up prioritising my focus on that one.
Also, I had an unplanned trip back to England at the two month stage and Mr SN and I returned to Crete two weeks before he was originally due home. This changed my three month Greek language challenge in to a two month one.
Have I been studying at all?
Yes, despite not living up to the challenge, I’ve still made progress and have spent time studying and learning. I’m an eternal optimist, so I’m really pleased with my progress. Even if i’d only learnt one additional word, I’d probably be patting myself on the back. It’s you I’m worried about. Can you forgive me? I feel like we’ve known each other long enough, you and I, to reveal our flaws. Just so you know, it’s not you, it’s me.
Here is a breakdown of how I studied and the hours I put in between 6th July and 5th August:
I began making a log of the hours that I was studying. According to my log I’ve done 29 hours and 45 minutes of studying, but that doesn’t take into account the time I spend at work when my boss speaks to me in Greek and teaches me new words.
I spent 13 hours and 20 minutes watching television, predominately Peppa Pig in Greek (Πέππα γουρουνάκι) I learnt SO much from watching this programme. The language is slow and repetitive but it’s not so easy that I get bored. It familiarised me with new verbs I didn’t know and sentence structure. Thanks to Peppa and her pig family, my listening skills have improved.
I spent 2 hours and 15 minutes listening to music by Nikos Vertis (Νίκος Βέρτης) In particular the songs: Κοντά Σου, Πρόσεχε Καλά and Mην Αργείς. I continue to put them on in the background and I managed to get the lyrics for a couple of them, so I wrote them out and sing along. Next step is to find the chords and play them on the guitar.
The rest of my time I spent in varying quantities learning via different methods. You can see from my log below.
How much have I progressed?
It’s hard to measure, I definitely have progressed, but I’m still a long, long way from being fluent. My listening is much better and I’ve gained more vocabulary. I still have a insatiable thirst for learning, so with the right environment I could definitely become fluent quickly. The difficultly is that I live in a house with Mr SN speaking English, and I’m an introvert by nature, so social situations don’t hold much excitement for me. I really have to force myself to go out and speak Greek with people. At the moment I’m working in a little guesthouse and my boss is a teacher. Not only is he patient with me, but he loves to teach me new words.
The frustrating thing is that I know I can become fluent, but without being immersed, the process is slow. I’ll keep going until I get there.
Fitting a bicycle on a moped and making a cat carrier from a scarf…
You may, in eagerness, have skipped straight to this point to find out the answers to those bizarre questions I mentioned in the first paragraph. What do they have to do with the Greek fluency challenge? Nothing, nothing at all. Nonetheless, let’s talk about the maximum load on a scooter and unusual methods of carrying a cat. Maybe you’ve been wondering about these things too?
Fitting a bicycle on a scooter…
One scorchingly hot day as I was cycling home, a very kind man on a scooter took pity on me and offered me a lift. I lifted my eyebrows in surprise. Me?… was he really intending to accommodate me and my bicycle laden with panniers…and him…all on his tiny scooter? I wasn’t sure it could be done. He grinned at me enthusiastically. Any fleeting doubt was quickly overtaken by the prospect of the other option – to keep cycling up the hill.
I liked this man’s optimism, and so without much persuasion, I found myself sat on the back of a stranger’s bike, struggling to hold the back end of my bicycle, as he executed a very fine balance of holding the front of my bicycle with one hand whilst simultaneously driving the scooter with the other. Initially there was a lot of wobbling, but as we gained momentum, my Greek knight in shining armour pulled back the throttle and we soared along as he garbled in Greek. By the time he dropped me off in Perama, we were bound by an inextricable bond which he sealed with a business card for his mobile DJ service based in Heraklion.
Fashioning a cat carrying device out of a scarf…
Our cat Ruby loves to be held. She’ll happily be bundled around all day as she purrs with delight, and even accompanies us on lengthy dog walks. She may well be a dog stranded in a feline body. As much as we love to carry her about, it’s not conducive to getting things done. With that in mind, I give you…the cat carrier, made from a scarf.
Life has been revolutionised, I now have my hands free to get things done whilst keeping Ruby happy too. The weather has become unusually hot for October, but I predict that as the winter creeps upon us, Ruby will be spending many an hour being hoisted around like a baby.
Things I’ve learnt over the last 12 weeks…
I may have let you down on the Greek fluency front, but hopefully by blinding you with cats and scooters, you’ll soon forget. I’m on a long and bumpy road heading towards Greek fluency, but as always, there’s an opportunity to learn and take stock, let me regale you with the lessons I’ve learnt recently: a) Learning Greek is difficult when you can survive without needing it, b) The Peppa Pig theme tune wears thin after a while, and c) If you need a DJ, my new acquaintance Manolis might be your man.
How are you doing with your Greek learning? Are you anywhere near fluency yet?
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