Ok, so maybe this is an exageration, and maybe I speak samo malo, but seriously, I SPEAK SERBIAN!!! I’m not kidding! Ok, so I’m just glowing from my experiences today speaking the language!!! Yes, I’m proud as a peacock!
I’ve been pretty much taking the bus or walking everywhere in Belgrade, and by doing this, I familiarized myself with public transport, however in the meanwhile, I was actually unknowingly missing out on a goldmine of language exercises: Cab Rides! 🙂
I took 2 cab rides today, to and from Ada, to save my precious, diminishing time here. And on the way over, I struck up a conversation with the nice Serbian cabby. Our conversation was simple, however it demonstrated to me that I really have reached a new level in Serbian. Yes, I am still at a very basic level, but I really am mildly conversational.
So on the way over, I asked the driver where he was from, I asked if it was ok if I ate my snack in his car. I told him I was a language student here in Belgrade. That I studied at a small school to learn the Serbian language. I told him we had 5 students and I said where we were all from. I explained that my teachers were strict, but that I was learning fast and wanted to practice everyday. I asked him if he had seen the new Serbian film, Montevideo. He replied to all of this and we really understood each other quite well. At the end of the ride, he told me that my Serbian was better than his English. Ne, ista. I replied, No, its the same. Haha! All in all a really enlightening experience.
Once I arrived at Ada, which is basically a man made lake with a walk/bike path encircling it that stretches about 5 miles, I was so empowered by my conversation that I decided to rent a bike. So I confidently rented the bike in Serbian and proceded to ride around the Lake, basking in my new success.
On the return ride, I got another nice driver, this time he spoke no English at all, not 1 word. However we still managed to have a very decent conversation. Actually, I even understood him when he told me that many people he drives come from other countries, from Poland or Germany perhaps. They have been here maybe 10 years or so, maybe they are directors of big companies, and they don’t really speak Serbian. Yes, he said my serbian is better than theirs! He consoled me about the verbs and padez, “Ahhh….glagol!!!!….Teshko!!…Ja razumem”….or something like that. Which is like, “ohhh yes… the verbs, the cases…it’s so difficult!…I understand”
He was really pleased with my progress and I explained all about my husband coming from Belgrade but living in California, and how I really wanted to learn the language to speak with his family and friends, and so that I could learn more about his roots. All spoken in my broken, but drastically improving Serbian. Overall, a fantastic exercise in Serbian conversation! Yes, I can do it!!
So if you’re ever trying to learn the language in a foreign country, take a cab. This is the ideal scenario for practicing. You have one local’s undivided attention for about 10-15 minutes, and neither of you can get away. They usually don’t speak much, if any English, and they aren’t sticklers for grammar, so they won’t kill the conversation by correcting you constantly. It’s perfect!