Friday, January 14, 2011

Speeeling decrease

No, that's not a typo.  It's actually an example of what's happening to my English language skills.  At first I just thought that it was reflective of my inability to type, but it has since come to pass that when taking notes by hand I spell words in new and creative ways...  Rools instead of rules for example.  (Which I must admit, looks pretty nice.  I hope it catches on as an alternate spelling.)  In addition to wacky ways of spelling, I have also found that I am literally creating new letters.  Hard to demonstrate while typing, even harder to review what I have written.  At this point, I have been able to catch most of these mistakes, but there have been words that have caused me to take pause.  How do you spell equiped?  Today I actually tried to look up Enklish in my pocket dictionary for the spelling in Spanish.  I don't know friends, but I hope I can keep some level of written communication.

My daily routine is likely in part to blame for this decrease in communication skills.  Along with culture shock, jet lag, a new diet, and learning a new language, of course.  Here's a look into my mind yesterday should anyone ever choose to act it out as if in a play.  Six a.m, wake up, prepare for the day.  Eat the breakfast that has been set out for me (Today a bologna sandwich with tomato, mustard and some other type of dressing, which I will call runny russian.  To drink, coffee, water and Tang.  Yes, Tang.  At every meal...).  Sit awkwardly with my host mother.  Listen to her explain to yet another neighbor that I don't speak any Spanish.  At all.  Seven thirty try and finish Spanish homework regarding irregular reflexive verbs.  Enter class at eight confused.  Try and absorb some of the hundreds of new words in my mind along with the way they may change due to tense, number, gender, or just their irregular nature.  Take coffee break.  Return to Spanish class, try and observe more verbs.  Go to a class in English about how to teach classes in English.  Eat lunch, chat with friends, check email, delete those from Detroit Public Television, more coffee.  Four more hours of classes in English, do skits, laugh loudly.  Another coffee break.  Get into small groups and discuss practice lessons taking place next week.  Decide that in comparison, you will be too strict of a teacher.  Wonder if you are a horrible person.  Finish with friends. Walk slowly home.  Walk into living room.  See that a friend of the family is visiting.  Say hello.  Wonder if you are supposed to introduce yourself.  Pause for too long.  Smile.  Excuse yourself to the restroom.  Breathe.  How do I spell English again?  Eat dinner with family and guest.  Put salad dressing on cabbage, Thousand Island by Kraft.  Feel a bit of pride that you have been able to correctly identify anything.  Listen to guest speaking very much, and very fast about something that had happened to him.  Finish food.  Wonder how long you have to stay at the table to be polite.  Sit.  Cross hands in lap.  Sit.  Smile at host brother.  Relax for a minute.  Have some more tang.  Think about scooting chair out a bit.  Wonder what guest is talking about.  Sit.  Recognize one word.  Death.  Get caught understanding.  Decide not to scoot chair out.  Recross hands.  Look at salad dressing bottle.  Feel proud again. Watch bull fight taking place on the television behind you.  Sit.  Wonder when it's polite to leave a conversation when the only thing you understand is death.  Assume that it's not.  Sit.  Put empty glass on empty plate.  Reconsider scooting out chair.  Wait.  The guest stands up to leave.  Wait.  Watch as he says goodbye to the family.  See his face freeze when he comes to you.  Smile.  Shake hands.  Say pleased to meet you.  Breathe.  Meet friends at bar.  Chat.  Laugh loudly.  Drink more beer.  Relax.  Group gets smaller.  New conversation.  Laugh.  Realize that it is 10 p.m. and the bar is closing.  Pay tab.  Stand out in rain.  Smile for photo.  Start walking with friends.  Gage interest in walking around for a bit more with group.  Find interest.  Notice car next to the soccer field with steamed up windows.  Point it out to friends.  Laugh.  Lean in to hear a story a friend is telling.  Get smacked in the face by a friend going in to high five the person across from him.  Look sad and walk away.  Laugh.  Another friend comes to give you a hug.  Instinctively knee him in groin.  Wonder why that was an instinct.  Bend over with laughter.  Walk more with friends.    Laugh.  Return to host families house.  Check watch.  11 p.m.  Take off wet shoes at door.  Sneak into room.  Get ready for bed.  Sleep.  Wake up next day.  Finish homework.  Have breakfast with host mother.  Repeat.

Really though, please don't think that I am only frustrated.  I'm just not that good at the imersion method of learning a language.  When I don't know one word in a sentence, my brain stops to try and process it.  So, I've been really confused a lot of the time, and I don't want to answer when I have no idea.  I do answer when I have some idea, but no idea, no.  I have had some great momentshere though and I am glad to be here.  I went on this awesome and really challenging hike into the mountains.  I've learned a bit about Spanish, fallen in mud, seen my first poisonous snake (dead, whew), had a banjo lesson with my host brother, and laughed a lot.  Real bad news, I lost my camera.  Or it was stolen, but as I've mentioned before, my brain isn't running at top speed.  I may have just misplaced it....  Cross your fingers, por favor.

I have to plan now to prepare for my first journey to my actual host village.  The group is splitting up, leaving the safety and comfort we have found in each other in these classes and new experiences.  I'm going to travel from Orosi to Alto Varas. I'm a bit nervous, but my stomach is settling a bit.  My second host father will be meeting me in San Martin so I will not have to make the journey alone with a big suitcase.  Good to know.  Also good to know, he is now planning to use a car for this journey and not a horse.  Excellent.  I apologize dear friends for not writing sooner.  Please understand that it is not because I have not been thinking about you.  In truth, there have been times already when I considered repacking and returning to you.  I believe however, it's important to work through the awkward and enjoy this time.  Adios, amigos!  Hasta Luego!


  1. It's so hard at first but you're hanging tough!
    It will be so worth it.

  2. Going to ann arbor next weekend. Just doesn't feel right to not be seein you babe. I miss you & think of you constantly. Sending you much much love. Te amo y besos