The Spanish language (and the fact that I don't know it) has limited me in social situations. I am normally the girl who strikes up a conversation with the woman at the checkout counter. I have no problem pleasantly questioning the cute guy on the bus about his equally cute dog. If you have ears, I will speak to them.
In Spain, this has been almost impossible for me. There are times that just as I think of what I want to say in a conversation, the beat goes on, and the topic changes to something else.
I make at least one mistake everyday. I sound like an idiot, almost everyday. Today was no exception. And tomorrow won't be either. When I am tired, or sick, or in the mornings before my coffee, I am a Spanish desastre.
Committing to living in Spanglish was something I was prepared to do. But some days, it feels like I have commit to a vow of silence. I am funny, I am witty, I am intelligent, and obviously, very modest. But it is difficult to express myself in those ways in a second language.
That being said, I came to Spain with absolutamente no español. And now, I can find a way to say almost anything I want to. But my timing is off, my grammar is off, and I can't be the true Spaniard I want to be without the right words.
When will the Spanglish stop?
Things I have learned during the past 3 months:
-How to use a city bus system.
-Don't sweat the small stuff. You will miss that bus, take the wrong turn, and say the wrong verb conjugation sometimes. No pasa nada.
-There will always be things that remind you of your home, no matter where you are.
-Watching movies in Spanish > watching movies in English, especially the romantic ones.
-The rules of futból.
-The actual words to the Macarena.
-How to really enjoy a cup of coffee when I need that caffeine in my sangre the most.
-The reasoning behind "From the lost to the river" and "Very well, Fandango."
-Where the best tapas are.
-A little bit of Portuguese. "Nossa, nossa..."
-Eat it first, then ask what it is.
-Sometimes the best experiences will come from the unplanned, inexpensive, kind-of-strange adventures.
-Skype is the best invention for holidays away from home.
-How to make a mean authentic Spanish paella
-The best siestas
can come from just 10 minutes of closing your eyes in silence after a long day of high-schoolers.
-Blogging is fun. And helps you share the things you love with people who may never know them.
-It's important to make new friends from different places and cultures.
And the most important lesson I've learned in my year in Spain so far is the power of being positive. So, here in Europe, there in America, or wherever you are, live life with a good attitude, and disfruta la vida even when things don't work out as planned.
I have been home for almost a week. And in that week, I have been indulging in many of the American things I have missed the last four months living in Europe.
One of them, Starbucks Peppermint Mochas.
Is there anything that says Christmas as much as a peppermint-flavored, over-priced coffee in a holiday-red cup?
While at Starbucks, I placed my order, and gave them my name, per usual.
It was what happened next that shocked me.
As I went to use the one-person bathroom inside while waiting for my coffee to be made, I shut the door behind me, and waved my hands in the air
to turn on the light. After a few seconds of this, I realized something.
I am in the United States now. The lights don't react to a censor, like in Europe. There is an actual light switch! And there I was, waving my arms around like an idiot, wondering what was wrong with this bathroom.
You have seen the Reasons Why I am 25 percent Spanish
. Almost exactly 3 months from that blog post, being back in the States has shown me just how Spanish I am becoming.
How Spain is Changing Me:
-I'm never hungry here until actual lunch time. That is, 2:30pm.
-I told my little brothers they needed to put on socks while walking around on the tile floor.
-I can't help but sit and enjoy my coffee instead of walking around with it.
-I no longer pull out my cell phone during family dinners.
-I speak in Spaniard-English to everyone.
Examples: "It's the same." "Tell me." "And you?" and "As you want."
-I ate a piece of fruit last week with a knife and fork.
-Spicy stuff is seriously spicy for me. I even found myself thinking "¡pica!" when I bit into dinner last night.
-I knew right away that the man on the phone in the store yesterday was from Argentina because of his Spanish accent.
-I want to sit and eat in a restaurant for hours and hours, not get up when we are finished.
-Staying true to my blog title, I still want to take a siesta everyday.
What do you think....am I 40 percent Spanish by now?
Miguel de Cervantes, the Spanish author of Don Quixote
, lived here in Valladolid for about 4 years.
In the novel, Don Quixote wants to change the world. With a strange vision on the world around him, he sets out on an adventure. He wants to right all the wrongs.
Don Quixote in Benavente
While I can't relate to his strange vision on windmills looking like giant animals, I can relate a little bit to him wanting to make everything better.
This week has been one of the most difficult in my life.
I wish I could say I have been busy with traveling and enjoying my Spanish life. Instead, life has decided to throw me a couple of hardships.
No matter where you are, bad things can happen. The world doesn't stop turning because you are abroad.
After talking with friends and pushing through terrible times, I've realized...I only have two feet. I can only walk forward with what I've got and do the best with what challenges have come my way. It is impossible to make everything better, and some things are just out of your control.
Giving up is the easiest decision possible.
But losing faith, losing hope, and leaving the journey that I've begun here in Spain by giving up is something that I would regret. Even through the hardest times, you have to look forward.
I walk by the now museum, Casa de Cervantes, almost every day. The beauty of the museum and the garden next to it always strikes me.
"He who loses wealth loses much; he who loses a friend loses more; but he that loses his courage loses all." -Cervantes
10 years ago today, I was in school when we turned on the TVs to see the towers fall.
Being abroad today has taught me that the whole world was affected by that September day. Two of my students here in Spain (doctors who are taking private English lessons) saw today's date and offered the information of how one of them was in the operating room and had to stop when he heard the news of the attacks. The other had closed her office to pick up her kids in fear of what was happening.
Here, March 11th
is another day of remembrance, a day my simple American mind knew nothing about before coming to Spain. Attacks on the Madrid subway system killed closed to 200 people in 2004. Another tragedy, just 911 days after 9/11, that struck a nation.
Madrid Bombings Monument that tunnels light into an underground memorial
Now that 10 years have passed, today has become a day of unity.
In hope that even one good thing can come from all the bad, let us remember exactly how much love and unity is necessary in the world. Across the world from each other, or even living under the same roof, we should be united in love; united as nations, and united as people.