¿cómo se dice…?

In Spain by Eller Student

The time here in Barcelona is flying by. I am in shock that we have already been living here nearly two weeks. This is the first time I have ever truly been out of my element. The barrier that language presents is not only overwhelming, but exciting and nerve-racking at the same time.

I came into this internship yearning for an experience that would drag me out of my comfort zone. My inability to verbally express myself has presented some challenges, but also opened my mind to a new perspective. I came here knowing only what little Spanish I remembered from high school, which was not very much at all. Around the city I feel dependant on the members in our group that can speak Spanish. I never realized the truth that communication is only in fact 7% verbal. The tone of the voice accounts for 38% and body language 55%. I can now attest that this holds true, even across cultures. When at times the words are a blur the meaning can be absolutely clear.

The coworkers at my office are very welcoming and have embraced Kamran and I as part of their group. Every day around 10:30 we take a break and grab coffee across the street. This is my favorite part of work, not because we are out of the office but because I feel involved. I listen to them tell stories and just chat like I do with my friends, but the dynamic here is so different. I find myself tuning out of the words and instead, watching their hand gestures or the way the other react to what they say. Listening to their conversations is so stimulating. They occasionally take breaks in their sentences and translate a few key words to make sure I am keeping up. They have taken an interest in teaching me Spanish. Each day I learn new words or phrases and become more and more confident to use them. I think my project is also helping me absorb the language better. I am translating their website with the aid of Google translate. I now recognize more word, and see the way their sentences are structured.

The first few days I felt out of place and vulnerable. I had the misconception that they thought I was slow. But they broke the ice when they wanted to practice their English with me. I then realized they struggled with what I am familiar with, it was no longer one sided. There is now a tradeoff between me being both the student and the teacher at times. I have regained my assurance and enjoy the lessons I am learning. I only hope I continue to make more progress with my Spanish and can make an impression with my English. While language may be a temporary barrier and the culture different, the urge to connect is the same.

hasta la próxima