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LJWorld.com weblogs Tyrel Reed: Diary to Home

Entry 3: Difficulties of a language barrier

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Former Kansas basketball guard Tyrel Reed is writing a diary during his free time in Belgium, where he is playing professional basketball.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed runs down a loose ball against Illinois on Sunday, March 20, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.

Kansas guard Tyrel Reed runs down a loose ball against Illinois on Sunday, March 20, 2011 at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. by Mike Yoder

As I mentioned before, I am currently living in Verviers, Belgium, a town of about 55,000 people. The main language spoken in this area is French, however I am located within an hour of both Germany and Holland so German and Dutch are also popular.

Boy, I wish I took more foreign languages in high school now. Since I only speak English and a little Spanish it has definitely been a transition as far as language goes. Most of the guys on the team who are foreigners speak enough English, however, to allow all of us to communicate with them on the basketball court. Plus, once you play ball with guys enough in practice, you get a "sense" of what to do and where you should go. There's a special look you can give a guy on the court that is universal and doesn't need any words spoken.

As far as my French vocabulary, I can only say the basic hello, please, and thank you. I should have invested in Rosetta Stone before I left the states! The only time I have been frustrated with the language barrier has been when I try and pick up a package at the post office. There always seems to be a problem with the address or it getting hung up in customs and I can’t ever explain myself clearly.

As for grocery shopping, this has been a challenge at times as well. Generally, you can tell what a product might be by looking at its packaging, but you may not be able to find something specific within that product range. For example, looking at different cuts of beef is confusing; especially since they may call it by another name than we do in the States.  Also, my wife has had trouble finding baking ingredients like pumpkin puree and wheat flour. She of course is a food connoisseur and has had withdrawals at not being able to bake exactly what she wants to all the time.

Well, that gives you a little bit of the adjustments that we have had to make over here in Belgium, but hey, we're getting by and it gets better with each day. My next report will focus on the real reason I am over here — to play pro basketball!

"Reed All About It: Driven to be a Jayhawk" is written by former Jayhawk Academic All-American guard Tyrel Reed. The book, from Ascend Books of Overland Park, is now available at most local bookstores as well as select grocery stores and specialty retailers. This book is also available on all popular e-book platforms including iPad, Kindle and Nook.

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