Friday, December 4, 2009

Thurs 3 Dec

Was visited by an officer of the law this morning. I of course was still in my pyjamas when the buzzer went, so it was a case of frantically run around trying to remember where it was I'd left my dressing gown. A little less embarrassing answering the door in a dressing gown, rather than just a pair of jim-jams.

I had been expecting a visit from a police officer as part of my 'full integration into Belgian society' process. This was the next stage after my visit to the commune a few weeks ago. I didn't expect it to happen so quickly. I was told this takes several months, not weeks.

He was actually a really nice guy. Asked if I spoke any French? Un peu, monsieur. He didn't speak any English so another good opportunity to practice and see how I'm progressing. He complimented me twice on my French so I must have learned something in the 4 weeks we've been here.

He just asked a few basic questions: "Was I...? Who else lived here? Did I have a job?" And that was about it. Then I think he said that I should expect a letter from the police in the next week, and that I should soon be issued with a Belgian id card!! We'll see. I'm guessing that's what he said.

Had a 'language exchange' meeting this afternoon. A couple of weeks ago the language school I'm currently working for in Mons asked me to help a woman with translation. Well, you need to be fluent in French before you can see if she is correctly translating these various documents into English. But, I used the opportunity on the phone with her to see if she wanted to meet up for a bit of French/English chit chat as she'd said it was good to speak to someone English for a change.

Anyway, we met for coffee, as you do, and spent 20 odd mins chatting in English, before spending the same time chatting in French. Thankfully, she spoke really slowly and clearly so I was able to understand her and think my French sounded okay. It's so much easier though when you know what it is you're talking about. When you have a topic in mind it's easier to find the necessary vocab and grammar. The hard part is the random conversation stuff and the fact that a lot of words are mumbled or spoken quickly, as is the case I imagine for anyone speaking their native language.

It was useful and we're going to meet up again.

I still need to meet someone here for regular French chats, at least 2 or 3 hours a week. The more I speak to a local the better my understanding will be.

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