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NY Through My Eyes - West Village, October 2018
I started my You Tube series "NY Through My Eyes". My goal is to explore the most interesting NY neighborhoods. I took off with the West Village. More (and better) to come. I'll be talking a...

“The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” - Regret Number Four
I continue my posts about Bronnie Ware’s “Five Top Regrets of the Dying”. I wrote about regret no. 5 here. The fourth regret is: „I wish I stayed in touch with my friend...

Color Factory - Wake Up Your Inner Child
The problem with NY is that we have too much of everything. There are so many events every day that sometimes - or most of the time - you just choose…to stay at home. And that’s exactly...

Your Opinion of Me Is None of My Business
Yeah, I know. The second you hear the sentence I chose for the title of this post, it sounds very cocky to you. It sounds like my self-esteem is sky-rocketing and my ego is bursting at the seams. Bu...

“The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying” - Regret Number Five
For some reason, I’ve kept seeing again the list of “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying” poping up recently all the time. It’s a list created by Bronnie Ware, based on her best- ...

Step 61 - Forget About “Finding Your Passion”
I’ve already written in Just Like NY about “looking for a passion,” but I have a few new thoughts on the subject.  First of all, forget about this trend of “live yo...

Just Let Us Be the Woman We Want To Be
I was recently riding the subway and I looked around as I always do (unless I’m around my period and don’t want to look at anyone). I looked at women this time (it rarely happens, but th...

Breathwork with XPT
    I admire and follow many people on social media – always in search for an inspiration – and whenever I see some of them come to NY, I almost jump up to the sky at the pro...

Make Your Own Choice
I was recently called out on holding a supposedly strongly stance against marriage. Since it happened twice in one month, I feel like something I said was actually lost in translation.  I neve...

What’s the deal with meditation?
I don’t know what it’s like everywhere else, but here in the US, meditation has become very popular, to the point where companies hire teachers to give...

Give What You Get
A week ago, I got a text message from a guy I went on a date with… a year before. I didn’t expect to hear from him again (which is why I deleted his number), so I was pretty surprised.&...

How I Decided To Give Up This Beauty Race
It happens that I’ve been spending a lot of time on the Upper East Side recently, and must say one thing – there are a lot of fake faces out there. And it really annoys ...

Yes, yes, no... I don't understand

added: 2013-07-23 , category: Living in NY

If you’re afraid to come to New York for fear of your English not being sufficiently fluent (“It was a long time since I had a conversation in English, no one will understand me”), I have some advice: forget the fear. What’s more: the less you try to speak correctly – the way you were taught by your mostly British teachers – the better off you are. Straining yourself to be grammatically correct (“Should I use past simple or present perfect?”) and to pronounce your sentences like you were Queen Elizabeth II herself, will only make you feel more stressed out. Most likely, no one will even understand you. This place is full of people from all over the world, including places that never heard spoken English. You will hear every language there is, as well as every dialect – starting with African languages, Hindi and Chinese, and – when you least expect it – Polish, Russian and the ubiquitous Spanish. Sometimes it will happen that not a single one of your fellow subway commuters will speak English. And none of them will be even a tourist that you are.

It’s often the case that even the immigrants who have lived here for 2, 4 or as much as 10 years don’t know English – which is true for many Poles, too. The truth is that most of them don’t need English to function over here. Transport and getting around are easy in NY; you don’t need to speak any language to do that. Besides, many immigrants live in ethnic-specific neighborhoods among their compatriots, who all speak their native language (same goes for store clerks). All you need is to master some basic phrases you need at work and a couple of indispensable words. That’s why so many foreigners have trouble learning the language properly, and even when they try to use it is often in a simple, rudimentary way (with the present tense serving to describe both past and future) and with no specific accent to speak of – everyone imposes their national accent upon their English.

Things will look much differently, of course, if you end up working for American companies with American colleagues – in everyday life, though, you can get by very easily. All you need to get your message across in a store (or a café, or on a street) are basic phrases, and if they don’t work, you should just smile and narrow your vocabulary down to “yes” or “no”. If you don’t understand something, just widen your smile and say it outright: “I don’t understand”. You can always use body language, too, and simply show what you mean with gestures. If you run across a person who speaks as little English as you do, then (even if you won’t have much of a conversation) at least you will get to smile a lot at each other and finish by wishing each other a nice day (by uttering one of the most useful phrases in American English).



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