I speak Spanish a few times a week at my job and my mouth quickly gets tired and clumsy from the unfamiliar shapes it has to make. The only reason I remember the word for "hole" is because I have huecos in my vocabulary. I stopped straining to understand new accents and simply tell people to slow down if I can't understand them.
Once I decided I wanted to study abroad in Latin America, my only definite criteria was I wanted to speak a lot of Spanish. Which narrowed down my choices... not at all. I knew little about the distinct Latin American cultures or differences in accent. I tried to find lists about the "best" places to study… Continue reading Reasons I’m Glad I Studied Abroad in Costa Rica
I liked learning Spanish. A lot. Not because it was easy (it wasn't). Maybe because it's the hardest thing I've ever done. I'm not a "natural" language learner--if such a thing exists. Every word I know and every sentence that comes out smoothly when I talk has hundreds, or maybe thousands, of incomprehensible attempts at… Continue reading Learning a New Language: Not Even Once
When I came to Costa Rica, I sacrificed my ability to express myself properly so I could learn a new language. When I returned to the U.S. at the end of last year, I learned there was just a bit of a backlash in returning my own tongue. I discovered gaps I had never realized existed… Continue reading Irreplaceable Spanish Words
When people told me we don't learn "real life" Spanish in school, they meant we don't learn Tex-Mex Spanglish or even Mexican Spanish. And that's true. But we also don't learn Spanish from Spain, Argentinian Spanish, Costa Rican Spanish, or Lived-In-Chile-Until-I-Was-Ten-But-Learned-All-My-Curse-Words-And-Sexual-References-In-Mexico Spanish. So the question is, what did we learn? All I know is, when… Continue reading Spanish is Not One Language, or: Costa Ricans Talk Funny, or: Why None of My Latino Friends in Texas Will be Able to Understand Me
My first week of my second semester in Costa Rica was not at all like my terrifying first week of school last semester. It wasn't that circumstances changed; it was that I had changed. This semester, I am taking three regular courses through the university and two Spanish classes for extranjeros. My three regular classes… Continue reading I Feel Like a Real Person!
Obviously. Somehow I had this subconscious assumption that the only real difference between study abroad and backpacking would be no homework to worry about. In reality, though, I wouldn't even put them in the same category--they don't have much in common, other than travel. The biggest difference is the types of relationships you make. One… Continue reading Backpacking is Nothing Like Study Abroad