Tag Archives: Languages

Bus Rides to Different Worlds

I don’t know how much you know about UCLA… other than the fact that our football team still sucks. Despite the fact that this isn’t our brightest hour (see: Education cuts in California), there are some things that still amaze me about this school.

UCLA is indeed a multicultural school. If you walk on campus on any given day, you will probably hear at least three different languages spoken- and after 10 steps in any direction, you may have probably crossed the paths of at least two students that come from a very different place than yours.

Sometimes, when my wife’s break from class and my lunch break from work coincide, and when I’m more than happy to give up my lunch readings to see her, I take the University Shuttle to campus and meet her at the cafeteria behind the law school. Since she only gets thirty minutes, we eat quickly, but I treasure every minute as if it were an hour. Once our meal is over I hurry back to the bus stop. And then I wait impatiently for the shuttle, as I alternate looking at my watch and the corner where the shuttle turns my way.

Once in the bus, a ride to different worlds begin. Last week’s in particular, there were three groups around me. I sat right next to the back exit, because unlike most of the people around me, my trip wasn’t as long. There were two girls sitting across from me. They were speaking Russian. I had heard my wife enough to know which language, but not enough to know what they were saying. They caught me staring, and I smiled shyly, wishing I could have asked where they came from and what classes they were taking.

The guys in front of me, three of them, were speaking French. They were talking about the beach, I knew that much- “Plage.” But their words were too quick for my slow brain, and I couldn’t ever catch more than a word or two- but never full sentences.

A couple behind me, speaking Japanese, seemed to be arguing about something. I didn’t catch anything they said because I have never had any contact with the language… Perhaps something I could correct in the future. Whatever it was, he talked more than she did. Before I knew it, my stop was sneaking upon me.

I stepped outside the bus and I thought of all these people I’ll never meet. I’ll never know their stories, or their classes- yet we were still sharing a ride, a space together, for about 15 minutes…



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