|Of course, one of the most intriguing aspects of coming to Spain was to hear the language and learn new vocabulary. The first day I arrived, I lacked confidence in my abilities, and whenever I'd try to communicate I would freeze up and sound stupid. It's not that I didn't know how to talk Spanish, but it's that I wasn't comfortable with the situation, and as a result I'd stumble on my words. I knew exactly what my issue was, and I knew it was something I had to get over fast. I don't have any shame admitting this on my blog, because it was my reality and it's valid to express how I had to overcome my lack of confidence. I had to force myself to get over any inhibitions I had with speaking, and just do it. And I have to say, that was the best thing I could have done for myself. Since I've calmed my nerves when having to speak, I've been having great successes with communicating. This type of situation can easily translate over into the classroom, and now I understand a little better the fear students have when having to speak in Spanish.
Not every conversation I had was a success—some people speak way too fast for me to understand well, and I have to ask them to repeat themselves. I do, however, pride myself from not once speaking English to servers, shop owners, museum employees, pedestrians, beggars, etc. I stayed true to what I wanted to do, and that was to interact in Spanish efficiently. Even when someone tried to speak English to me, I responded in Spanish. I refused to speak English. That's not why I'm here! Now, as you know, I do know a fair amount of Americans here in Spain, so I've been speaking English with them, but other than that I'm communicating in Spanish. And at this point in the trip, it feels comfortable, and I have little hesitation about talking in Spanish. I've even struck up a few conversations with baristas and servers, just like I would in the States.
I did have to learn some new vocabulary terms. I tried my best to write down words into my phone as I heard them, and here's a list of some common words/phrases that I had to get used to:
||comments/usage of word
||this verb is used in every sense of the meaning of 'to get'
||had no idea this existed—el curro = work
||it doesn't seem to be a derogatory term
||used to request any food/drink item ⇒ Ponme un cortado, por favor.
||saw this early on and had no idea what it was; kind of important
||to hang out
||¿Quieres quedar? / ¿A qué hora quedamos?
||literally posted in every shop window
|en el dorso
||'on the back'
||I heard someone say this while referring to the back of a piece of paper
|No pasa nada!
||It's no big deal!
||maybe I should have known this, but I hear this one all the time
||very common; a woman referred to me as 'majísimo'
||used just like 'gustar' ⇒ A mí me molan las shawarmas.
||I'm looking forward to it.
||always wanted to know how to say this; heard it twice in one day
There are still times when it's hard to for me to understand what I'm hearing. Some people have heavier accents than others, and of course you have to consider different regions of Spain producing different dialects. I'm used to hearing American teenagers speak Spanish that it took some time to adjust my ear to Spanish-Spanish. And that's all that's required to improve any aspect of learning/improving a language—time. And a lot of patience. I think that's kind of important, too.
I spent my last day doing a lot of leisure activity. I walked around the city and took some final pictures, went to El Retiro (the big park) and napped for a while, took the metro to Alonso Martínez and had lunch followed by some ice cream, and then relaxed in the apartment for a bit before heading out with Paul and some friends in the evening. It was a great and relaxing way to end my trip here in Europe, and it provided me with a lot of time to take it all in and reflect on what an experience this has been. I'll get into that tomorrow, but for now it's 'good night.'