I was very surprised to find out how common it is for Austrians to know English. German is their most widely spoken language, but English was everywhere. Every restaurant had English translations on the menu, every server spoke a decent amount, and some street signs were even in English without any German accompanying it. Speaking so much of my native language that weekend was a delight and a treat, and hearing a language I didn’t know a single word of really cemented my confidence in the fact that I actually do know how to speak Spanish. When I returned to Granada, I really started to put my all into the language portion of this abroad experience of mine.
I made the very difficult decision to abandon the book I’m currently reading and instead pick up one of the novels on my host mom’s bookshelf, which are of course all in Spanish. Seriously tragic and seriously necessary. It seemed to me that I needed to integrate Spanish into every possible facet of my life, and reading for pleasure is surely one of the big ones–exclusively utilizing Spanish in a completely language-based activity felt like one of the best ways for me to do what I came to Spain to do. So for now it’s hasta luego to Milan Kundera, and hola to Gabriel García Marquez. It took me about an hour to read 4 pages (my reading in Spanish process entails looking up every unknown word, writing them down, reading over what I just read out loud, trying to figure it out like a puzzle if something still doesn’t make sense, thinking to myself for several moments, waiting for an aha! moment, continuing that process for the next section of the page, then reading the page out loud as a whole when I’ve finished). It’s terribly frustrating and it makes me feel nearly illiterate, but it has also been extremely effective in better understanding how to use words and phrases in context. At the end of that hour, I knew exactly what was going on in those four pages, and I’m really proud of that. #1hour4pages say it with me now.
My classes started and now I have a full schedule. I’m taking Political Systems in the European Union (my favorite), Oral and Written production (basically practice with reading/writing in Spanish), Contemporary Art in Spain, Islamic Culture in Spain, and Development of Spanish Cultures. In case you’re wondering, yes, all my classes are in Spanish, and I understand my professors with ease! If only all Spaniards enunciated every sound like my professors do…SIGH. Even more than reading novels in Spanish, speaking with natives on the street is a really great way to make me feel like I know absolutely nothing. A natively spoken sentence in Spanish is a string of beautifully flowing sounds, and could almost be one giant word; it’s hard to tell when one word stops and the next begins. My original New Years resolution was to become good enough at Spanish to articulately talk about philosophy, but I see now that that’s too difficult. My modified resolution is to be able to hold a conversation with native Spanish speakers, truly understand what they’re saying, and feel relatively confident about it. Say some prayers for me or somethin’
Here’s a cool fact: I was talking to a guy in Vienna (in English) and he told me I spoke English very fast and needed to speak slower. Ha!!! Felt very nice being on the other end of that scenario, for once