Last week we hit the two-month mark. Which means that the Spring 2012 Pandilla is fast approaching the half-way point of our study abroad experience. The past two months have flied past us, and I’m pretty sure I speak for all of us when I say that I’m not ready for this experience to be even halfway over! Personally, I feel that in two months, I’ve changed noticeably, and not just in my weight thanks to all the pan I eat or the inclusion of the word “Vale” into my Spanish vocabulary. I’m more informed about world events, make time to go to exhibits and museums, walk everywhere, rush less, and enjoy more. My friend Chris Harkins (Tufts in Madrid 2012) has also changed noticeably, and he recently wrote about his most notable change in his personal blog, his Spanish fluency:
I really like eating dinner with my family. Last night, my host mom, Mercedes, invited this older couple over to eat with us. I’ve met the couple before and still don’t know their names but they’re always glad to see me. After we finished eating, the 3 of them began talking on different issues and stories. For the first 40 minutes, I was translating to English more or less what they were saying. Then, I got involved in the conversation (at this point about high tuition prices in the U.S.) and I made a switch to all Spanish. It was guay or cool. I relaxed my mind into thinking and processing in Spanish. I wish it did not take so long though. To me, it’s much easier to understand my american friends speak spanish than understanding spaniards when they speak spanish, probably because I am used to the American accent. But there are a couple spaniards I can understand very well now such as my host brother and my host sister and then Guille and Maria who are spanish students working for the program who I see a lot. I still have trouble understanding my host mom at times. She has a tendency to slur her words and not really enunciate them. But even after speaking with her for about 15 minutes, I get used to her manner of speech. It’s really tough to become fluent in a language I’ve decided. While I’ve improved greatly, I think a semester is really way to short to pick up a language. I’m a kinda slow, careful thinker. I think I’d need 3 years living in Spain before I could even consider myself close to fluent.
Que guay, Chris! Keep working at it and I know you’ll be much more fluent in the next two and a half months!