Language Lessons

Some of you may not know this, but I am a big nerd when it comes to languages. I mean, I’m a nerd in general, but learning languages might actually be my favorite nerdy hobby. Before I had kids, I could be found at community colleges learning French and Arabic on the weekends and in the evenings after work. When I did a study abroad in Mexico, I spent my nights at Spanish meet-ups instead of the bars. When my employer sent me to 6 months of full-time French language training, it was pretty much the best perk they could have offered (and is partly why I took a pay cut and demotion to switch to my current job).

When my new Nigerian friend mentioned that she was looking for an Amharic tutor, I immediately offered to hold the lessons at my house and split the cost of lessons with her. Yesterday was our first day with Dereje, our rebash astamari (troublemaker teacher). He has a great teaching style, mixing grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation with entertaining stories and cultural anecdotes.

I thought this wouldn’t be too intimidating because I’ve already learned one Semitic language, but t can already tell this is going to be very difficult. There are about 270 letters in the Amharic alphabet. I have learned 4 letters so far:



Because I am a huge nerd, I am extremely happy to find out that this will be such a difficult language to learn. My adorable little Japanese flashcards with the metal rings are out and ready to be filled with new words. I’m sure I will only achieve a very basic understanding of the language while I’m here, and that’s assuming I keep up the twice-weekly tutoring sessions and study very hard. Right now, my brain hurts a little.

This week was so busy. We were lucky enough to get invited to a Thanksgiving potluck yesterday. In honor of Chanukah, I brought kugel–no one had ever heard of it before (!), but you really can’t go wrong with eggs, sugar, noodles and various creamy things. I also made Aunt Millie’s rolls, but unfortunately I still haven’t perfected them. Next year, maybe!

After running around Addis all week, I am looking forward to a relaxing weekend at home. I was a little sad that we didn’t take advantage of the holiday and go somewhere else (the Seychelles, like everyone else, perhaps?). But then again, we’re all still adjusting to this place, and it’s nice to have time at home.



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