Language

Dos Días Más

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Happy Hour at Profetica

On Friday, I wrapped up five weeks of Spanish classes. Including the week I spent in Puebla before school started, I’ve spent six weeks in total here. Thanks to the homestay aspect of the school program, I had my own bedroom and bathroom for five whole weeks. Privacy and the ability to unpack were such luxuries. The bathroom was especially appreciated last weekend when some jerk named Montezuma came seeking revenge on me. What did I do to you, Monty? Now that I think of it, the only other time I’ve been sick on this trip was in Chiang Mai when I treated myself to my own space. Maybe when I have my room, I get punished with stomach issues. No fair, travel gods.

This morning after breakfast, I said goodbye to my hosts, Margo and Fernando, put my 40 liter backpack back on, and trekked back to the hostel I stayed at when I first arrived in Puebla. The guy at the front desk remembered me. He speaks perfect English and we communicated in English during my initial stay. This time, we spoke in Spanish. I didn’t understand every single word he said but I got the gist of everything. The gist is useful.

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Mal Día

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I had a bad day yesterday. The morning was fine. My friend Melody–who is the only other other person in my beginning level class–was out sick. I missed her but took advantage of some one-on-one time with the teacher. I really missed Melody at lunch when everyone else spoke solely in Spanish and I was only able to pick out a few words here and there.

Things only got worse after lunch when I was paired up with a new guide for the afternoon. He only wanted to speak in Spanish and I understand it’s important for me to be challenged and gain conversational experience but I’ve only been studying the language for a week. I don’t even know the past tense for verbs yet! That makes talking about a lot of things pretty difficult. The guide said he wouldn’t speak in English and told me to just ask if I didn’t understand anything. I didn’t understand everything!

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Livit Up in Puebla

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I just finished my first week at the Livit Immersion Center where I’m beginning to learn Spanish. So far, I’m pretty proud of myself for finding this place. There are so many schools in this big country and I did a ton of research. I settled on Livit due to the location, the value, and how the proprietor kindly responded to all my silly initial questions. (more…)

Escape from Mexico City: San Miguel de Allende

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If you couldn’t tell from my last post, Mexico City really frazzled me. Some friends and family noticed. Not one but two aunts, my mom’s sister Sue and my dad’s sister Holly, emailed to check on me. So did one of my best friend’s moms. I wrote to my own mom in a panic telling her I wanted to come home. She encouraged me to stick it out at least a little bit longer and try changing cities. Holly had previously recommended a town called San Miguel de Allende as a change of pace. I’d read about it before–it was described as “Mexican Disneyland.” It’s clean, safe, quiet, small, and very gringo-friendly. There are a lot of expats here. Maybe it wasn’t the heart of Mexico, but it sounded like what I needed at the time.

Even though nothing terrible happened in Mexico City, it really undid me. I was miserable. In fact, even though I bought a bus ticket to San Miguel de Allende, I looked up flights home that morning for later in the day. I told myself if there was an issue at the bus terminal or anything remotely bad happened on the way there, I could turn around, go to the airport, and book a last minute flight to San Francisco. After all, I was already packed. Fortunately, the bus terminal was easy to navigate and after an early lunch of barbacoa tacos (and a 7-Up which I ordered by smiling pathetically, pointing, and saying “Siete?”), I was on a surprisingly comfy bus out of the capital city. I finally started to relax.

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Culpabilidad

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Apparently culpabilidad is the Spanish word for “guilt.” I had to look it up on Google Translate so I have no idea if that’s accurate. But basically, it’s my first day in Mexico City and I’m feeling really guilty for not being able to speak the language here.

This isn’t a problem I had in Asia, probably because no one ever expected me to speak Vietnamese or Cantonese or Khmer. But here today, everyone I’ve interacted with has started speaking to me in Spanish and I have to sheepishly admit that yo hablo inglés only. I’ve been following that immediately with “But I’m going to learn in January!” I kind of wish I had just arrived after the holidays so I could jump right into classes and start learning. I also kind of wish I had studied Spanish in high school and college instead of French. I know it’s crazy, but French doesn’t come in too handy living in California. Who knew?

On the plus side, I didn’t have too much trouble figuring out the metro and finding my hostel in Colonia Roma. It seems like a nice area, but I only had a few hours of daylight to stroll around when I arrived. It will be nice to explore tomorrow. I also need to figure out a plan for how to kill time until the first week of January when I start school in Puebla. I’m thinking I will get to Puebla early to get to know the city on my own a bit. I already booked a hostel for two weeks before classes start just to make sure I’d have a bed for Christmas. I still have some time before then and I’m not sure I’ll want to stay in Mexico City for all of it. Time to research!

My main accomplishment today was finding a cute restaurant in my neighborhood, drinking a Corona and eating guacamole con queso fresco. I can’t speak Spanish (yet), but I already nailed consuming Mexican food.

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