In my world, there are 2 Iulias. The Iulia that is my sister-in-law, and the Yuliya who writes at She Suggests (@SheSuggests). I was over-the-moon excited when I “met” Blogger Yuliya because she was the second person I’ve ever known to have that name.
She also happens to have moved to the U.S. as a kid, just like my sister-in-law.
The comparison stops there, though, because sister-in-law Iulia moved here from Romania and still has a noticeable accent, whereas Blogger Yuliya is Russian and (sadly) does not have an accent.
Please welcome the pee-your-pants-funny Yuliya with an unforgettable tale – and photo! – about surviving in the 2nd grade without knowing the language.
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Liz was adorably confused when she asked me to guest post for her. Apparently she thought I had this cute Russian accent and I had to break her heart and tell her I sounded one third valley girl, one quarter southern drawl, fully ghetto fabulous when intoxicated or angry and seven fifths All-American(ized) girl.
And I think I probably never had a Russian accent either. Which is tragic because accents are so gosh darn cute. I simply stepped off the plane and without any training whatsoever began speaking perfect English. At least that’s what I thought I was speaking. Turns out my child ego simply invented a language to help me fit in with this strange new environment.
Sometimes it came in pretty handy…
scene: lunch room, 2nd grade
a burly, well-fed child enters and approaches funny smelling foreign girl eating a hot dog sandwich (boiled hot dog on bread, it’s tasty y’all!)
Beefy: “I’m going to eat your lunch”
Smelly: “Narfaloggon!” I think I’m saying “Wow! You’re hands are massive, you must milk a lot of cows!”
Beefy: “Give me your lunch, I said. Give me!”
Smelly: “Farshamakan?” I think I’m saying “I can pay you to be my bodyguard. I have many rubles. Alternatively I pay in beets.”
Beefy gives up and finds some other child to coerce out of lunch.
Sometimes though, my lack of English was decidedly unhelpful…
scene: classroom, my first week of American school, (2nd grade)
oblivious foreign girl prancing around room in her very first pair of Levis (not purchased on the black market)
Prancy: twirl, twirl, ball stop change
2nd grade teacher approaches, one part Mr.Rogers, one part Jerry Garcia (I like totally wish I had a picture for sure), eight fifths board certified authentic San Franciscan
Mr. Sunshine: smiles “Julia please come here. Please, I need to speak to you in semi private, please.” (aside to the audience) “As per the regulations of the San Francisco Unified School district I must use the word please eight times when addressing a student.”
Here’s what I hear “mwap mwa mwa mwa mwap mwa SAN FRANCISCO! Mwa mwa mwap mwa”
Prancy: smiles back “SAN FRANCISCO!”
Mr. Sunshine: beckons with finger
Prancy: follows Mr.Sunshine dutifully
Mr. Sunshine: “Okay Julia I need to tell you something. The zipper on your pants. Well, it’s not zipped up. In fact it’s not zipped at all, do you understand?”
Prancy: pounds fist to chest “JULIA!” (that’s my new American name) cocks head to the side and appears perplexed “UNDERSTAND?”
Mr. Sunshine: “Okay if I can’t tell you, maybe I can show you” Gestures wildly with hands attempting to simulate the zipping of a zipper. As per San Francisco Unified School District regulation his hands are nowhere near his pants region, lest someone get the wrong idea…
Prancy: “OKAY!” twirl, twirl, ball stop change, jazz hands!
Mr. Sunshine: “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do here. Will the emotional damage you suffer at the hands of cruel second graders laughing at your un-zippered pants be more or less traumatic than me zipping your pants for you? Should I get the school nurse? Does anyone speak your language? Where are you from again? You sound like that guy from Mork & Mindy.”
Here’s what I hear “mwap mwa mwa mwap mwa mwa you put the lime in the coconut shake it all up mwa mwa mwap mwa mwa”
Prancy: blinks excessively and backs away slowly, Pas de bourrée, Piroutte, JAZZ HANDS!
I eventually figured out what my teacher was trying to tell me. And where my English failed me, my fashion sense did not. This is what I wore for the rest of the year:
It took six more months for me to become fluent enough to understand the faux paus of wearing tights without pants to school. At which point, I died of embarrassment. I have since been re-incarnated as a mommy blogger, which is never embarrassing.