I started my second week of Spanish classes today. Per usual I left the 4 hours of class with an achy head and a lot of jumbled Spanish vocabulary running through my head. This may sound terrible to some of you, but it is really exciting for me. After living in Honduras for 6 months my Spanish barely improved. I think it did help me in the area of listening and trying to pick out keywords to help me understand, but my overall speaking skills really didn’t improve. Coming to Spain and actually having formal classes has been awesome. I have learned more Spanish in 6 formal class periods then I did in 6 months in Honduras. However, this doesn’t mean I haven’t gotten frustrated. Today during my communicative Spanish class I spoke for over an hour with another student in my class. We were playing a game in which we flipped a coin to move 1 or 2 spaces and then had to describe what we landed on. Possibilities included “Your teacher,” “Your parents,” “Your girlfriend,” etc. It was a fun game to practice vocabulary but it was challenging because many times I wanted to use a word and I had no idea what it was in Spanish. It just gets frustrating. However that’s part of the learning process, especially with a second language.
I remember going over a new vocabulary list with my English language learning class in Honduras—“Clothes.” I wrote out a list of clothes vocabulary on the board and had the students copy it down. We then went through that list as a class and I would try my best to draw a picture of each vocabulary word. There was one word in particular that I had a hard time getting my students to understand: suit. I drew a picture of a guy wearing a jacket, pants and a tie. The students could not get it and both the students and I began to get frustrated. I went back and took the “pants” vocabulary word drew a “+” sign then took the “jacket” vocabulary word and drew a “+” and then took the “tie” vocabulary word and wrote an “=” sign. The students finally got it; suit. I recalled this memory today when I was doing my Spanish homework and got frustrated because I could not recall the Spanish word for suit—traje. Talk about a role reversal.
Ahh the conveniences of America...
The United States is all about the conveniences of life and being as efficient as possible. We have our 24/7 mega grocery stores—Meijer and Wal-Mart. We have our fast food drive through as well as our late night drive through (Taco Bell fourth meal anyone?). We have microwave dinners and frozen pizzas. You fill in the blank and most likely that blank allows us to be more efficient or it is a convenient item to have. This is one thing I had a hard time dealing with when I lived in Honduras; they are neither efficient nor have access to many things down there (however this does allow for an a relaxing pace of life that everyone is incredibly content with). Because of this I was able to slow my pace of life down and learn to appreciate the many things I have access to back home in the States. Coming to Spain I knew it was a developed country and I would have easier access to most things. However, there is one thing I have quickly learned about Spain, and it relates to Honduras. The Spanish are in no hurry and they like to take their time. This makes sense because the people in Honduras were the same way, and with Central America once being part of Spain, you can see why that is a part of Honduras’ culture. However, I am again facing the “inconvenience” of a culture.
I see this a lot, except in Spanish...
My bedroom is on the third floor of a house that does not have air conditioning. During the afternoon my senora (the woman whom I am staying with) does not want us to have the blinds open in our room because it brings in heat. So if I am in my room during the afternoon I am sitting in the dark. I hate that. So I decided I wanted to go out and find somewhere else to hang out during the afternoon. This became very challenging because of one part of the Spanish culture—the siesta. It is a custom here for people to eat lunch around 2 to 3 and then sleep the hot afternoon away. If everyone is sleeping who is working? Not very many people. Which makes trying to find a place to study or hangout in the afternoon very difficult and for me an inconvenience. Compare this to the United States where there are infinite places to go in the afternoon to hang out, study, etc. I guess that just means I need to adapt to the siesta culture of Spain and partake in it myself. No complaints here… Today I finally asked my Senora if she knew of any places that were open during the afternoon that were close by. She did and suggested a small restaurant/bar/café a few blocks away (in an area I hadn’t explored yet) that had both air conditioning and free WiFi. I studied there for two hours this afternoon.