Monday, November 29, 2010

Not so eloquent now, are we?

So we're all friends here, right? Let's have a little sharing time. You'll all be expected to share unsavory details about yourselves too.

I've had a tough time in Lima with the language
, and objectively, it's not because my Spanish is horrible. In fact, I had the opportunity to take a lot more language classes before coming than many of my fellow exchange students did, for which I'm extremely grateful. It's really just cause I have an extra dose of pride when it comes to my language skills. Truly, I was a bit of an English teacher's pet all through grade school and high school. And skipping the false modesty for a second: I'm good at writing. Not fantastic, not a Pulitzer prize winner, but good. And I've always really loved that about me. Let's keep it to ourselves, ok?

So anyway, you can imagine that knocking down my language skills to about a 5th grade level, give or take, has been an exercise in humility for me. I hate asking "What? What? WHAT?" when I don't understand. I hate not being able to manipulate all the subtleties of language to control (well, guide) how people perceive me or what I'm saying. I hate not being able to take the lead in group projects when I sense things going awry. Despite all that, I know it's been good for me.

But lately I've been feeling much better about myself and how I can interact with people here. You want to be impressed by my grandiose accomplishments? Let's go:

1) I carried on a whole Spanish conversation with a lovely woman in my English class (Hi Vicky!), in which I felt like I wasn't hesitating or stumbling or skipping things I wanted to say.

2) I came into class this morning
, a class with all English speakers, in which we lazily speak English amongst ourselves most of the time, and the first words I said without thinking were Spanish. There were only about 6 of them, but they were Spanish.

3) A woman quickly asked me to lend her 50 cents on the micro the other day and I understood her fully and lent her the change without hesitation. It was magical.

4)I met someone new the other night
and I think I only asked him to repeat himself once.

That's as good as it gets these days, and I'm proud when I look at those little things, in a good way this time I hope. I worked for them.

Of course, I still have just about as many frustrating moments, but I hope the scales are slowly tipping toward the magical moments....


  1. Good for you! Other peoples' language can be a humbling experience...after touring Norway and Sweden in Sept., once again I was in awe of their mastery of my language. My four years of German a bizillion years ago can help me once in a while. So I say I'm proud of you!

  2. Congrats! It must be exciting to master a new language.


  3. I'm always impressed when people speak more than one language! It's a great thing to be able to communicate with others in the language of the country you're in. And also very gratifying too.