I speak English! Regretably, I’ve never learned another language. Hell, You can likely deduce from my often juvenile writing , that my proper grasp of the English language could use some help! On an immersion trip to Costa Rica many moons ago, I failed miserably on my first incredibly weak attempt to learn the Spanish language, (what does ‘Conjugate’ mean anyways??) In spite of my early failure, one of my first goals upon arriving in my new adopted country is to begin the long and arduous process of learning the language
. I can predict that this will be painful ! But, for me, being able to understand and be understood by people around me is an essential part of being alive! I know that sounded dramatic! But really, can you imagine eating at a restaurant and not being able to eavesdrop on the conversations going on around you😱! Yikes! This is a torturous experience for nosy me!
I don’t expect to have an easy time learning Spanish. I expect to be frustrated, embarrassed often confused and impatient! Many aspects of learning a language include things that have always been my greatest challenges. Memorization and comprehension , being two of the biggest! I’ve begun to attempt to get a bit of a head start on my Spanish by using the Rosetta Stone computer software. I really like the Rossetta Stone program because it utilizes multiple aspects of learning. Visual , audial , and kinetic methods are all part of the lessons. The problem I seem to have is my lack of ‘stick-to-itness! Darn it! I’ve just never been one to be especially consistent when it comes to forcing myself to do something that requires consistency . But this time it’s my decision and I’m committed to working hard.
I think, for me anyways, deciding to move to a foreign country requires my being able to communicate in their language . I am a visitor and it just feels respectful to me that I don’t expect the Panamanian people I come in contact with to speak English all the time. It is a Spansh speaking country after all. So, when I say I want to attempt to assimilate, as best as I can, to the culture of my adopted land, that means espaniol’ ! I may never be completely fluent but I’m planning to try my best to learn as much as I can. It may quite possibly be a never-ending project for me , but oh well! I’m not adverse to a project. My hope is that learning Spanish will be more natural when I’m living there hearing it spoken all the time, and having everyday opportunities to stumble through communicating to those I come in contact with.
I have two very good friends in my life who have learned English as thier second language as adults. Natalie is from Estonia and Maria is from Greece. They both had a small amount of knowledge of the English language from their childhood but were not fluent when they moved here. I did not know them way back when they made the move to the U.S. I wasn’t there when they decided they would learn English, but I can imagine they felt very much the same as I feel right now. They are two really amazing women who I admire greatly . I must admit that while it’s not completely thier faults,( please don’t blame them😡),it’s stories like theirs that inspire me to experience a new and different country. Both of my friends had vastly different reasons for leaving their homelands for a different country, but they both have become very happy productive members of the communities where they settled. And they could not have done that had they refused to work extremely hard to learn to speak a new language fluently. This alone, as I contemplate my impending move to a foreign land inspires me. I’ll be thinking of Natalie and remembering her ability to laugh at herself when she thinks that a client in the salon has asked if her date ” passed the mustard!”, never having heard the term, ” Did he Pass Muster?”. And Maria never stops making me laugh with her story of being in the grocery store and confronting a very rude Mexican man who she mistakenly thought she was insulting by very passionately calling him a , “GRINGO!”. Lol!!
As I’m struggling to ‘conjugate verbs’ and memorize what’s masculine and feminine, I’ll be thinking of my two girlfriends. I’m certain Natalie and Maria experienced similar
Difficulties learning a new language. I bet they also got frustrated maybe even shed a tear or two out of frustration. I know they’ll be cheering for me back home, and someday I will have to laugh at myself when I make a silly mistake while speaking to native Spanish speakers. Seeing my friends speak English so fluently when it is not the language they spent a large amount of their lives speaking gives me hope that someday I’ll be as bi-lingual as they are. At the very least I hope to have as much grace and humility to laugh at myself while I make mistakes.
Learning Spanish will likely not be the only challenge I’ll face moving to a new country. There is much to learn about culture and customs, etiquette and even a very different sense of humor. I’m certain that until I begin living in Panama I can’t even come close to imagining all the many new things I’ll be adjusting to. This is an aspect of expatriating that I both fear and look forward to. During this time of learning all about how to assimilate to my new surroundings and attempting to respectfully embrace a different way of life, I have confidence that I’ll come across local Panamanian people who are gracious and supportive of my humble attempts to fit into their community. Kindness and generosity abound in this world and the energy you put out is usually what you get back in return!