At home, the bulk of my close friends are people I’ve known for years. A few are from high school. One is from diapers–we were next door neighbors when we were a mere couple of months old. A big chunk come from college. We met thanks to proximity; we all lived in the same dorm freshman year. I didn’t have to search far and wide for these people. They were living down the hall or right upstairs and we basically couldn’t avoid each other if we wanted to. Not like we wanted to! I’m so lucky we were all placed in Prado Hall at UC Irvine nearly 13 years ago (13!). We’ve remained a tight crew to this day which is good because outside of arts-themed dormitories, I’m not great at meeting new people.
I can let loose around my friends. They get me and my odd sense of humor and accept that the words “This reminds me of an episode of Frasier/Seinfeld/30 Rock” will come out of my mouth at some point during any given conversation. But I’m still an introverted introvert when it comes to meeting new people. I’m not one to extend my hand first and introduce myself at a party where I don’t know anyone. I can be extremely shy depending on the situation. This has not been the case at all since I started traveling.
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!
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…)