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Learning to Speak Spanish in Granada, Spain

March 12, 2014
In October, I started to think about the possibility of studying abroad. I wanted to find a program with classes that I was interested in and the opportunity to improve my Spanish. I finally narrowed it down to Granada or Barcelona. Five months later, I’m positive that I made the best decision for me. Since I’ve arrived in Granada, I’ve realized that a majority of the people here only speak Spanish. I’m immersed in a Spanish-speaking world; I hear and speak Spanish basically the entire day. When I wake up, I’m greeted by my señora, Eva, and her toddler, Paula. Walking to class, I hear everyday conversations of locals. I overhear stories about significant others, children, cars, and even the weather. When I go to the post office, a tapas bar, or the grocery store, I have converse in Spanish.


 Hope my Spanish can "blossom" like the trees along the river

I feel like my Spanish has improved since I first arrived in Granada. My second day here, I apparently told my señora that I didn’t like pizza or hamburgers, which isn’t the case. In January, I was afraid of making mistakes at home and in class while speaking Spanish. Now, I still sometimes use the wrong conjugation or verb, but my fear of making a grammar mistake is basically gone.

 These fears about being incorrect have diminished, probably due to the little “victories” I experience when speaking Spnaish everyday. These little victories are simple, but make me realize that my Spanish has actually improved.

Over my two months, I have a few examples. One is actually from this past weekend. I had stomach pain and wanted to let my señora know how I felt. She actually understood me when I described to her my symptoms, and ended up making me a simple dinner of plain chicken to help my stomach.

Another “victory” was in the post office when I had to pick up a care package that my mom sent. I walked into Correos for the first time, not knowing what to do. I went to the first kiosk and told the employee about my dilemma (the package never was delivered to my address, but it was located somewhere in Corroes.) The employee told me that I had to go to the first floor to pick up a package. Downstairs, I had my “victory” conversation with the Corroes employee. After explaining to her my issue, she asked me when and from where the package was sent, as well as the name and address on the package. After I told her all that information, she repeated to me my address, and asked if I was sure. I said yes, and told her my address. She searched the shelves and finally found it. Before I finally received it, someone changed the floor number on the box. The mystery was solved! The employee asked, “vives en piso cuatro?” (Do you live on the fourth floor?) I replied, “no, no, no. vivo en piso cinco con my senora.” (I live on the fifth floor with my señora.) The employee laughed and said, “Madre mia, señorita."

Speaking and understanding Spanish in Granada has been a roller coaster. There are some days where I have these little victories. But to be completely honest, there are times where I am discouraged or don’t know a vocabulary word. I just have to remind myself how far I’m come from my first day here. In my mind, the victories definitely outweigh the defeats.

Mia Polizzotto is the CEA Spring 2014 MOJO in Granada, Spain. She is currently a junior at York College of Pennsylvania. 

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