Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spain, Day 1 - Jet Lag

When we got off the plane I was worried about what I'd say to Clara's parents. On my first trip to Spain I spoke no Spanish, and they didn't expect me to. On my second trip, I remember the first thing Clara's mom asked me was if I had studied any Spanish, which I had to regretfully say I hadn't.

This time I expect her to ask me the same thing again, but that didn't happen. I remember just saying "Hola" and then something like hablo Espanol solamente un poco (I only speak Spanish a little.) which seemed to satisfy them. Then they drove us home.

Later that day we went out with Clara's brother and sister to try and beat the jet lag. We went to a very American-style mall, went shopping for a bit, and then went to a bar/cafe for a drink and a snack. The whole time I wasn't saying much. I was, of course, shy... but my excellent excuse was being tired from the jet lag.

I did have a bit of a "worst nightmare" moment, though. I excused myself at one point to go to the bathroom, but when I got there it was locked. I decided to wait outside, and while I was waiting some guy came in, pointed to the bathroom, and asked me a question in Spanish. He was rather obviously asking me if I was waiting, but instead of simply saying si or perhaps perdon, no hablo Espanol mucho (Sorry, I don't speak much Spanish.) I freaked out and just sort of grunted and walked away, as if I had to leave suddenly.

That was exactly what I didn't want to do when I was in Spain, so I thought afterwards what I should have done, and realized I probably could have said something moderately appropriate. However, as I would soon realize, this would happen quite a lot: being in a situation where you don't know what to say and then, 5 to 10 minutes later, realizing what you should have said.

This delay, I imagine, is rather normal when beginning to learn a language, and eventually I decided it was good to see it as such. Because, when you do think of what to say later, at least you thought of something, which means you have the knowledge bumping around in your head somewhere. When you realize the "problem" is, at least in some cases, a slow response time and not lack of knowledge it helps put things in perspective, at least it did for me.

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