Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dining with colleagues

Earlier this month Female Science Professor http://science-professor.blogspot.com/ had a poll on how often people eat lunch at their desks, and was surprised http://science-professor.blogspot.com/2009/06/dining-el-desco-data.html at the result. When I read the poll I was one of the respondents who usually ate lunch at my desk—sometimes doing work whilst I ate, other times taking the time to catch up on personal e-mail/blog reading etc.

Now that I have started my post-doc position that has changed; instead of each of us on the research team eating lunch on our own, our team meets daily for lunch. I find that while I was accustomed to my solitary lunches, I am enjoying this custom. It is a good opportunity for us to touch base with the others and discuss places where our work overlaps, and it is a good social break in the middle of the working day.

In my case it is also a good opportunity to listen to the local language. Everyone on my team speaks English, and some of the conversation each day at lunch is conducted in English, but some of them also speak among themselves in their native language. The first day I was here I’d listen carefully to their words, and simply attempt to tell where one word ended and another begun. Now that I’ve been here more than a week, I’m also listening for the occasional word I am able to understand. I’m told that in September I shall be able to take a course to learn the basics of this language, and the more I listen now, the easier that course is likely to be. However, some days the listening for words I know is more helpful than others. Today I thought I heard one of my colleagues speak a work I know, only to realize that no, the word I thought I heard is in Japanese, and not a European language word at all…

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