It started as soon as we boarded the plane: the fluent switching between Arabic, French, English, and the requisite assistive hand gestures — all in the service of negotiating seats. The number on your boarding pass holds no sway when you’re on a flight to Beirut; you’re expected to haggle. To, essentially, get to know […]

For months I have avoided picking up The Idiot again, despite being only about 150 pages from the end, because every time I did I was just not able to get through the wall of text that is the beginning of Part Four. When I read, sometimes I like not concentrating too much, and Dostoevsky […]

I made a decision based on incomplete information, and it turned out to be the wrong decision. In carrying out the decision, I caused another human being significant distress, and in the end, my intentions and justifications for my actions don’t matter.

This is something I noticed a few years ago but has been niggling the back of my mind since I returned in October. How do I describe it? I noticed that no matter where I am in the country, at NHS clinics, at train stations, on roads, at airports, on transport, at the post office, all the information on the signs looks really similar. I don’t mean what’s written, but the font itself.

I went with memories of my stay in Portugal a few years ago fresh in my head: winding streets, cheap wine, beautiful scenery, absolutely roasting temperatures, and no idea how to pronounce anything. (Maybe this should really be its own separate blog post?) I can say this for Madrid at least: I found it to be less beautiful than Porto and Lisbon, but the people and the food completely won me over.

This is no means an exhaustive list of stuff you can try, or even the best or most-proven by research. But I’ve seen and tried a lot of stuff, both in language classrooms and on my own, and these are the things that I always wind up recommending because they worked for me. So, if you’re interested, have a read.

A couple weeks ago I jokingly wrote that the whole reason shower boilers exist here is because English boilers and pumps and water tanks break so often that letting agents have a liiiiittle more leeway in fixing all that stuff if you at least have hot water in your shower.

Again, when I wrote that I was joking. But now? Not joking any more.