|Certain words, such as mango, are the same in English and Spanish. (I love it when this happens)|
When I first joined a gym in Costa Rica, one of the first things I realized was there was this guy walking around watching everyone. As anyone would, I stared at him and wondered what his deal was. Throughout my first interaction with him, I looked (and felt) like a lost puppy. Words flew in one ear and out the other as I tried to keep up with his Spanish. Eventually, it got so debauched I had to point to a machine and scurry off to avoid more awkward conversation.
I redeemed myself the following weeks by talking to another trainer, who is younger and talks slower. Long story short, I talk with him in Spanish whenever I go to the gym and learn a new word or phrase just about every time. Lesson number one: stay with it!
|I found out that the trainer, Josh, wants to be a doctor|
Don’t get Disheartened
When I walked into the barbershop, I couldn’t even understand the first thing they asked me. So when I sat down to get my haircut, I had no idea what to expect. The barber could tell I was from the United States and asked me the usual small talk questions. About two or three minutes into the haircut, I won an inner battle and opened up, mustering up all the Spanish I had inside my head. Throughout the rest of the haircut, I spoke with fluidity and felt very proud of the fact that I could hold a simple conversation. Lesson number two: Don’t hold back!
|Some of the hostels we stay at on the weekends speak English. However, most of the time our reservations are made in Spanish!|
Take advantage of your opportunities
Studying abroad has made me realize I am truly in the center of another culture. It's a strange concept to consider, but I embrace the change and so far, have used it to my advantage.
The Spanish language surrounds me wherever I go. My thoughts about this – take every opportunity you have to learn. When I don't understand a word, I ask. If I see a peculiar sign, I put it in my notes and look up the word later. Talk to locals! If someone is speaking too fast, simply ask them to slow down. Lesson number three: take advantage of your time abroad, because you may not have an opportunity like this ever again.
|Learning new vocabulary in my Medical Spanish class|
Don't let the fear of not knowing another language stop you from going abroad. It has expanded my horizons and I am happy to live in a country who's language is different than my own.
Andrew M. is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO in San José, Costa Rica. He is currently a junior studying Physician Assistant Studies at Philadelphia University.
Andrew Mantone is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in San Jose, Costa Rica, and is currently studying at Philadelphia University.