There was a time, not so long ago, when I fancied myself somewhat of an expert in the ancient Greek language. I learned the Greek alphabet shortly after learning the Roman one, and throughout childhood I studied the language slowly but surely. Upon arriving at university, the Greek professors graciously allowed me to test out of the first year of Greek, which is how I ended up taking Greek 3 during my first semester, and went on to take every Greek class that was available. So imagine my surprise, when, after all those years of acquainting myself with the language, for the first time I recently came across the fact that ancient Greek has phonemic vowel length. I had a foggy notion of Eta and Omega being “long” vowels and Epsilon and Omicron being “short” vowels, but I had chalked it up to being a weak attempt at explaining how they should be pronounced, something akin to how in my native English they say that the A in “apple” is short, whereas the “A” in “acorn” is long. Phonologically speaking, the difference between these two is a difference in quality, not quantity—in fact, the A in “acorn” is a diphthong; not even a simple vowel!Read More
I am a US citizen living in Mexico as a temporary resident, and after going through quite an ordeal trying to buy a vehicle here, I thought I would share what I learned in case someone else in a similar situation is about to go through the same process.
First of all, I use TransferWise to move money from my US bank account to my Mexican bank account, and when I found a vehicle I wanted to buy, I thought I had all my ducks in a row. I live in a fairly small town, so when I went to the big city to buy a car, I just located the nearest branch of my bank and told the seller to meet me there.Read More
Wales! That little country tacked onto the side of England… we were only there a short time, and didn’t really get to explore much. However, what we saw was interesting. Most of these pictures were taken at a pretty little park, where we walked around a bit. Our other destinations in Cardiff were a souvenir gift shop, a book store, a thrift store, and a fast food chicken place.
At the thrift store I was tempted to buy a bunch of interesting books on the Welsh language, but I maintained my self-control, reasoning that it would be very unlikely for me to return to Wales anytime soon in the future. As for the chicken place, well… we were hungry, and our options were limited. My memories from the chicken place were that if you wanted ketchup, you had to pay extra, and we were practically the only white people in the restaurant, everyone else looking middle-eastern! So much for traditional Welsh food.
Maybe one of these days I will make it back to Wales. I’m sure there’s much more to see than I was able to breeze through on my short visit!
Dear passport stamper person,
Let me begin by thanking you for your service. I’m sure you serve an important role in the immigration office, making sure that only legitimate travelers are allowed into your country, and that terrorists and suchlike are denied. I also am aware that your job is not necessarily a pleasant one, and that you would probably much rather be at home watching TV at 11 PM instead of stamping passports. So please accept my sincere gratitude for your efforts.
However, I do have a minor complaint. Are you aware that my U.S. passport features 17 pages for you to stamp visas on? I certainly don’t expect you to count them like I just did, but I can’t help but notice that, every time you stamp my passport, you always add your stamp somewhere in the first few spreads, which have been stamped many times before. It’s almost as if, instead of looking for a blank space to stamp on, you are looking for the very spot in my passport that is so overstamped, that no one could possibly spot, much less read, a new stamp! Every time is the same, continuing the vicious cycle.
I know this is an insignificant grievance, but when I look through my passport and see whole blank pages, just longing for someone to stamp on them, I can’t help but wonder what you were thinking when I handed you my passport and you thumbed through it. All I ask is that you look more carefully next time, and give some love to the lonely back pages of my passport before it expires.
Mashkioya, world traveler
Everything seemed to be going according to plan. We had finished worshiping with the church in Dublin, caught the city tram, taken the train down to Cork and made it to the airport in good time. By this time my sister and I fancied ourselves old pros at flying, and as we found our gate and heard people around us talking in Spanish, I was daydreaming about how nice it would be to arrive in Spain. Ah, the sunny homeland of my second language—I couldn’t wait to get there! And yet as we stood in line to board the plane, I was suddenly brought back to reality.
“I can’t let you on” the stewardess said, after looking at our boarding passes. We were incredulous. Whatever had we done wrong? “You didn’t get your passports checked, so I can’t let you on the flight.” We frantically asked if there was time to run back and do that before the flight left, but there was no way—by that time the Ryanair plane would be well on its way, aiming to land ahead of schedule amid classical music and applause by the jostled passengers. Read More