English, English, English by Terez Sýrna

21/10/2011 10:06

The most sought-after experience of students of foreign languages is obviously travelling. It is the easiest way to learn a language; besides that, you may form lifelong friendships, discover secret passions or see how much different the world just round the corner is. Even the air you breathe at home is different. Terez Sýrna knows that better than anyone else…

When I woke up that early September morning, I was pretty excited. I had spent too much time at home, and this was finally the first day of my well-planned trip to Mallorca with a short stop in London and Bristol. Still half asleep, I checked my wallet for the last time and went through my passport and all the bookings and confirmation documents I knew I needed. When I was absolutely positive that I had packed everything, I set out on my journey, trembling with eagerness.


I was determined to remain optimistic. My parents drove me to Brno Airport, which is about half the size of the one in Bratislava. We would have missed it, had it not been for a huge sign almost screaming Brno Airport at us and an airplane parked on the runway. I was glad I did not have to worry about any alternative means of travelling to the airport. But when my father asked me in a serious tone whether I had remembered to take some Spanish money with me, my patience was up. I thanked him politely and rather sent them both back home. Now, I was on my own.  I didn’t care that the place was “just” a dull airport with a single duty-free shop and a café. It was my holiday and I was going to enjoy it. I was completely oblivious to the fact that it started raining the moment we stepped out of the terminal building and had to spend over an hour on the plane waiting for the rain to stop. Neither did I mind the air-conditioning, which made me shiver all over. When we landed at Stansted Airport with the outside temperature of twelve degrees, I was still in a very good mood.


I simply love the feeling I get every time I arrive in England. It is only a two-hour flight, but the second you get off the plane, you know you are in a different world. At least that’s how it feels to me. I love the diversity; nobody cares whether you are black or white, a Jew or a Muslim, or whether your clothes differ a little too much from those of the others. It’s all your choice. Weird as it may sound, I could spend hours sitting somewhere and just watching people walk past. Although I have been to England a couple of times before, I always find it to be an exceptionally pleasant country.


After a few lovely days spent in London, it was finally time to move on to the next stop. This time I took a bus and headed for Bristol, where I picked up my friend who would go to Mallorca with me. We got to Bristol Airport a bit too early, so we had enough time to take a little look around. Soon it was quite clear to us that most of our fellow travelers were English. After all, it was not such an unexpected piece of news considering the fact we were in England. I was kind of curious what it would be like being on holiday not surrounded by a bunch of Slovak and Czech tourists. Mallorca seemed to be the right choice.


The real holiday started when we landed in Palma and managed to find the right bus that would take us to our hotel (which we located on the map only two days after our arrival). I had been really looking forward to our stay because it was my first time in Spain and I was certain I would have plenty of great opportunities to practice my Spanish. But in the end it turned out to be almost a disaster. Not only were the English our fellow travelers during the flight, they were also, save for a few exceptions, the only nationality staying in our hotel. They were virtually everywhere. I guess up to ninety-seven percent of the hotel guests were English. The hotel staff were very well aware of that, so they did not even try to speak Spanish. Therefore, my attempts to prove that I could really speak Spanish were dumped by astonished and funny facial expressions saying nice try.


I always thought that while on holiday in a foreign country, one tries to see the country’s peculiarities, experience its culture and get a taste of its cuisine. But the English proved me completely wrong. Actually, based on what I saw in Mallorca, I can say that the English wanted to experience none of these. The hotel staff knew all too well about their habits, so instead of serving a variety of Spanish and Mallorcan traditional dishes, we were cooked food like burgers, pizzas, French fries, chicken nuggets or the famous English breakfast. All this in the exotic Mallorca. I am not saying they did not serve us anything else, but clearly all this “continental” food was there to please the English. Later, when I saw them lying by the hotel pool, I wondered what had made them take such a long journey. They never bothered walking down to the beach (just a few minutes away, by the way), to take a swim in the beautiful sea. I don’t want to judge anybody. It just seemed ridiculous that they should be travelling all the way to Mallorca only to do the same things they would do at home. What’s the point of such a holiday?


As for me, I had a great time. I enjoyed my stay to the fullest. Moreover, watching English people peppered it in quite an interesting way. I was gloomy when I found myself on the way back to the airport. And then, after a couple of hours, we were back from the hot sunny Mallorca to the cold Bristol. By a strange coincidence, the weather was even worse than usual, which made the return back to reality even harder. But nothing lasts forever and so I took out some warm clothes, put them on and set out to spend the last two days of my holiday in the wonderful England.


Terez Sýrna