Pardon My French

Friday, 26 October 2012
"Why learn a language when everyone speaks English anyway?" Every time I hear this, and I've heard it more times then you can imagine, a small part of me dies inside. Okay, so that might be a little melodramatic but the sentiment is still a painful one for me. The truth of the matter is that NOT everyone speaks English and never would I have it otherwise.

There are many benefits to learning a foreign language such as: boosting your intelligence, easing your travel experiences, assisting your career and even aiding your love life. In learning a foreign language I have experienced all four of these benefits in some way or another.

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I studied languages, Spanish and French, throughout my school career. Learning a foreign language has given me a better understanding of my own. For example, did you know you already speak a bit of French? The English language borrows a number of phrases from French, as well as others.

  1. "I just got déjà vu." The literal translation of déjà vu is 'already seen' and the phrase has come to describe the phenomenon of having the strong sensation that what you're experiencing has happened before.
  2. "He was given carte blanche." In French carte means card and blanche means white or blank. The two words put together in English mean free reign.
  3. "We live at the end of the cul-de-sac.Cul-de-sac means a dead-end street but the literal translation of this word in French is something quite vulgar. Let's just say sac means bag and leave it at that shall we.
  4. "I'm en route!" En route is a French phrase meaning 'on the way' that is commonly used in the English language.
  5. "She was wearing a lovely ensembleEnsemble can mean 'together' but in this context a more appropriate translation is outfit.

Studying French at university gave me the opportunity to go live abroad in Pau, France. Knowing some French before I arrived was a huge advantage as it made those first few weeks that little bit easier. I was able to get my mobile phone with relative ease and it certainly made the first trip to the supermarket a little less daunting.


My decision to move to France was not motivated by the clichéd desire to find love in a foreign country. I wasn't expecting to be swept off my feet and certainly not by an Englishman. The fact of the matter is, neither of us would have met each other had we not been been studying French at university.

Children will be on the cards for us at some point, and when that happens we plan on moving back to France. Not forever mind you, but perhaps to begin the children's education in France so that they become bilingual. Having bilingual children is very important to both Luke and me as being bilingual can open many doors for you.


You don't have to live abroad to experience the benefits of knowing another language. Knowing languages has helped me on my travels. Whilst struggling to find somewhere to park in Barcelona, I was able to use my Spanish to ask for the nearest car park. (Although some of the people I spoke to in Spanish decided to respond to me in Catalan.) When lost in Brussels I was able to ask several people for directions to our hostel. The ones who actually responded in French (Belgians also speak Flemish) still couldn't help me but, had I not spoken French, I would not have been able to communicate with the nice police officers who eventually did help us find our hostel.

To this day, whenever Luke and I go abroad we try to learn some basic phrases in the language of the country to which we are travelling. Something as simple as ordering a pizza in Italian really can go a long way with the locals.


Luke and I both use our language skills in our careers. Luke was specifically hired because of his ability to speak French. Luke's company has offices all over the globe, and whilst all employees are supposed to speak English, it can be very beneficial to speak foreign languages. His talent for languages has not gone unrecognised either; his company are paying for him to study German!

While I wasn't hired on the basis of speaking French, I often use it as I work at the European headquarters of my company. When we were organising an event in Paris, the employees of the restaurant, at which we were trying to book the formal dinner, only spoke French. Let me tell you, trying to explain the various allergies of the attendees was no small feat. Besides using my language on a semi-regular basis I am also fortunate enough to have several French colleagues with whom I can practice!

Q: Are there any words used in the English language you can think of with different origins? If you could learn any language other than your native one, what would it be?

Erin x

*This post was part of Kaplan's Inspire Language Learning Blogger Challenge.

My American Care Package

Saturday, 20 October 2012
On Thursday I received a care package from my Mom for my birthday! It was full of American goodies, plus so little extras. My Mom really does know me, the only things not included in the care package were sushi (from I Love Sushi), frozen yoghurt (from U Swirl) and an In-N-Out burger. I suppose I'll let her off on those though! 

My care package included (from left to right):
  • Peacock Pashmina
  • Reeses Peanut Butter Cups
  • Frank's Red Hot Sauce
  • Hidden Valley Ranch
  • Disney Recipe Book
  • Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Mix
  • Onion Fridge Mate
  • Tomato Fridge Mate
  • Lemon Fridge Mate
  • Fluffy Socks
  • Christmas Classics DVD
  • Hallmark Mother/Daughter Ornament
  • Williams and Sonoma Red Velvet Cupcake Mix
  • Serving Dishes
  • Duncan Hines Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Cupcake Wrappers
  • Minerals Makeup Box
  • Physicians Formula Nude Blush
It truly was filled with some of the things I miss from America, bare the obvious exceptions. I don't really think I'd want week old sushi or frozen yoghurt arriving at my door though. It really got me thinking about the little things you miss from your home country when you're living life as an expat.

Q: What do you miss about your home country? 
Or what do you think you'd miss?

Erin x

Day Out in London

Wednesday, 10 October 2012
When Luke asked me what I wanted for my birthday I said I'd rather get something for the house than something for just for me. In typical Luke fashion he didn't listen (do men ever listen?), but for once I am really glad he didn't. Unbeknownst to me, Luke rang my boss and booked my birthday off for me, so he could surprise me with a day out in London!

Instead of waking up at the crack of dawn to go to work on Tuesday, I was able to have a lie in and get brought tea in bed before heading on a train from Milton Keynes Central to London Euston. In just 35 minutes we were in the centre of London. We always stop at Buckingham Palace, to say hello to the Queen, before taking a stroll through the parks. I've still not received my invitation from her for tea, I can only assume it's gotten lost in the post.

Walking around the royal parks is one of our all time favourite activities to do in London, and it's free! If we don't have time to walk through all of them I'd recommend walking through Regents Park, as you can easily get to Horse Guards Parade which then can lead you on to 10 Downing Street, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, and of course Big Ben. Regents Park is also Luke's favourite because of the birds and squirrels. On this trip to London, Luke and I decided to go somewhere that neither of us had before - the London Aquarium.

Luke and I have a thing for aquariums. I think it started when we went to the aquarium on our first trip together to San Sebastián. Since then we always try to see the aquariums in the cities we visit, but have never had a chance to go to the London Aquarium. It was slightly pricer than I was expecting, my guide book, albeit from 2010, had said it would be £13.00 each. It was actually £19.40 each, I thought it might have gone up a little, but 6 quid! 

I'm very happy we went as we both really enjoyed the aquarium and although it was a bit more than we were expecting, it was worth it. The aquarium was arranged by bodies of water, so there was a section for everything from the Pacific to the Arctic Ocean. There was even a section dedicated to fish that have been found in the River Thames. 

After the aquarium we headed to grab some sushi in China Town (in between Soho and Leicester Square). We found a terrific sushi restaurant called Akasiro, where I had the best sushi I've had since coming to England! We shared a sushi platter and a vegetable tempura bento box! I even agreed to try Mackeral sushi again, it wasn't half bad (but don't think I'd order it on a regular basis). The place was a great value too, something you always have to be on the lookout for in London. We finished off our meal with some hot sake for Luke and plum wine for me! In other words, I was in heaven!

By the time we'd finished sushi it was nearly time to head back to Milton Keynes, but not before a quick stop at King's Cross for another vain attempt to get on the Hogwarts Express at Platform 9 3/4!

Erin x

Q: Where do you like to go when you visit London? Is there anywhere in London you'd particularly like to see that you haven't yet?

Top 10 John Lennon Quotes

Tuesday, 9 October 2012
You say it's your birthday
Well it's my birthday too, yeah
You say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you.
- The Beatles ('Birthday', White Album)
Besides the millions of strangers I share my birthday with, I also am blessed to share it with two very important people in my life - my mother's best friend since childhood and John Lennon. Okay, so while I didn't know John Lennon personally (he died about 6 years before I was born), he was a member of my all time favourite band The Beatles and an all around legend!

To celebrate our birthdays and 50 years of Beatlemania (last week was the anniversary of the single "Love Me Do") I am sharing ten of my all time favourite John Lennon quotes.

Top 10 John Lennon Quotes of All Time

  1. For our last number, I'd like to ask your help. Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you, if you'll, just rattle your jewelry.
  2. Remember love. The only hope for any of us is peace.
  3. If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace. 
  4. Part of me suspects that I'm a loser and the other part of me thinks I'm God Almighty.
  5. Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.
  6. She forced me to become avant-garde and take my clothes off, when all I wanted was to be Tom Jones 
  7. Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.
  8. Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans.
  9. Time you enjoy wasting was not wasted.


Erin x

NB: Since writing this post I have discovered that I also share a birthday with David Cameron, our current Prime Minister.
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