February 04, 2010


So I have now officially been in Spain for a week so I think it's time for a little reflection.

First of all, I think being around Spanish ALL. THE. TIME. has really helped my listening skills. I hardly ever have to ask people to repeat themselves and I understand (almost) all of what my teachers say in class. I even went to the bank today and was able to exchange my American dollars for Euros. It's starting to come more naturally to me and I'm beginning to appreciate what a beautiful language it is.

Which leads me to my second revelation: I can't speak Spanish. In my head, I think I'm fluent. But when it comes to forming words and using my vocal cords, it just doesn't work. I obviously need to practice more but it's very discouraging when you try to talk and have to take a 5-second break to think about what word you want or what verb tense. Something about being put on the spot and being asked a question just makes me freeze. My goal is to try to take more in class and in the homestay.

In the past week I've also noticed a lot of different cultural quirks that you don't even realize until they're different from what you expect. For instance, electrical outlets. I was so confused when I first saw them in our hotel. They're big and bulky and not very "aesthetically pleasing". And they ruin electrical appliances. Tons of other kids in the program have had problems with the electrics since they've gotten here even with adapters and voltage converters. One girl's straightened completely fried her hair. She had to cut random chunks out the other day. Other people are having problems with their laptops sparking. Luckily, I haven't had any problems with my equipment (knock on wood) but it's a serious problem.

Everyone here smokes. I mean everyone. I saw a little boy on the street the other day lighting up. He probably wasn't even Dr. B's age. While we were watching the Spanish news last night, we saw a piece about a smoking study. They showed a clip of doctors walking out of hospitals to take a smoke break. DOCTORS. Like, these people went to school for how many years and they still do that? And they smoke more than cigarettes here, too. I've gotten big whiffs of other products on many occasions in public areas.

I have a few posts planned with pictures of all these unusual aspects of the Spanish culture that I can't wait to show you! For now, I'm about to eat lunch and then head back to my afternoon class in Spanglish. Tonight, we have an intercambio planned with some legit Spanish speakers. We might even go see a flamenco dance too!

Hope everyone is doing well and I miss you all!


jeffo said...

Megan: Don't worry about flubbing an occasional "case" or "gender" or other grammatical nicety - as long as the poit is made.

Gary Simon said...

This is no different than my friend, Michael, who lived in France. Completely lost the first month but was then easily accepted as a "fluent" with no accent at all. People literally did not know that he wasn't from France. Amazing what he learned from people's thoughts about Americans. Hang in there! Uncle Gary