Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zee, or is it Zed? Overcoming the language barrier


I live in New York close by the Canadian border. When my children watch education programs Z is said two ways; Zee and Zed. It’s a small thing, but it represents a much bigger issue. Even though Canada is less than 30 minutes away from me, it’s a whole different country with its own language and culture. And that’s Canada, what about say Japan?
That’s where research comes in. Books are good, the internet with Google earth is better, but actually going to the place is best. I like to stay in small bed and breakfasts; it helps me to get to really know the people better.
A hotel is so impersonal. I remember a trip I took once to Ithaca with my husband. It was ok, but just that, ok. A few years later I went back and stayed with someone who lived there. It was like seeing the place for the first time. Did you know that in Ithaca there are waterfalls everywhere you turn and some of them you can dive over the edge into a deep pool below? I do now.
That’s why I love traveling almost as much as I do writing. It helps me to get to the heart of things and be as authentic as possible.