When it comes to learning Spanish, this past weekend, I was in two sink or swim situations and I’ll be darned, I’m still afloat! One night, I had dinner with about 10 Catalans, though they always speak Spanish. The following night, I had dinner with about 20 Catalans who prefer to speak Catalan. I figured I would be twiddling my thumbs both nights and while I did a little, I also had some thoughts about the situations. And when Hoolia has thoughts, you get to read about them!
At this point (almost 9 months!), I’m accustomed to being the token American in various situations and I often wonder whose responsbility it is to talk to who. Should it just come naturally? Should the people who all know each other and feel comfortable make the effort to include the token? Should the token go beyond the uncomfortable and go beyond her native language to be included? Sometimes it works better than other times and while these dinners are still not always the most comfortable for me, I think these situations are how I’m going to learn (and maybe not only about the language). And hek, I can always find one thing universal and at the second dinner, when about 5 people took out their cell phones and started playing games, I joined too!
Overall, I think each day I’m improving the “smile and nod.” I don’t understand everything, but I’m pretty good at making it seem as if I do! Other times, like at the dinners, I pray someone who has a difficult accent doesn’t talk to me. Also, with other people who are a bit more intimidating, I can see my level of Spanish absolutely collapse. But I realize it’s all about confidence and faking it until you make it. So while I still have a ways to go, I can confirm I am indeed continuing on my way!
When I’m the token American, I generally don’t feel it’s my place to take photos, but here are a few of me in other Spanish group situations…