The Language Barrier

So it seems my 6 or so years of High School and University spanish hasn’t really prepared me for actual conversation in foreign country. I still can read and write excellent, but speaking and listening is a totally different being altogether. Coming to Colombia I thought people spoke really clearly and annunciated well. Well, some. For the others, its like a train wreck in my mind, I miss one word and I’m out of the game. I’ve gotten better at listening, but it takes so much concentration and effort. I can’t remember how many times I’ve been asked a question and just nodded and smile as they waited for my response. I’m deciding to put everything I speak into the present, ir a form, or imperfect, and that’s treated me pretty well so far. But, for describing things, forget about it! Take for example last week, I accidentally got ahold of the wrong set of keys for my apartment. They weren’t wrong exactly, but I just didn’t know how to use them. So, as I return back home, I spend 10mn trying to jam this unknown key into the front door of the building. Finally, two women come down to help me out. I’m trying to say, “mi llave no funciona” but they kept replying in undistinguishable sentences and so I therefore basically walked with them to my apartment door and kept saying, “gracias, chao.” But the 1-person conversation continued and continued. When in doubt smile and nod.

Another example? I made pancakes this morning. As I read the Spanish directions I ask someone for a taza (cup) for measuring, but I was given a bowl. I ended up measuring the mix with a spoon, and kept adding things so it looked better. Ehh, they were alright actually. I say job well done this time. Even though I spilled the mix on the counter and forget how to say towel in Spanish. Yeah, that wasn’t a fun part.


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