Life Outside the Bubble

In Spain by Eller Student

The most difficult transition I have had to make in Spain is the language barrier. No matter how long you live in Spain for, speaking the language is very essential. I have currently lived in Spain for almost a month now and even though I have picked up some things, I still feel slightly out of place. Whether it is going to the supermarket, going to work, or asking instructions in the workplace I never totally catch what the locals are saying. It is hard to find locals that speak good English which makes the workplace a little uneasy at times.
At my place of employment, Serhs tourism, I have an individual who translates work instructions for me so I can therefore understand my projects and assignments better. Even the small events that occur everyday at the office, like asking if there is sugar for the coffee is sometimes difficult. All of these are examples of daily occurrences we take for granted in the United States. Every single day we communicate with several others and we all take the language barrier for granted. We know by facial expressions, tones and words what the individual is feeling while also decoding what is being said. In Spain, I put emphasis on listening very closely and picking out key words so I can put together what the individual is saying to me. We don’t realize it when we are in our home countries but when you travel to a foreign country you automatically realize that you are sort of a fish out of water. I now have a newfound appreciation for individuals who come from foreign countries to live in the United States. if you do not know the language it makes it that more difficult to get around and honestly it is also very exhausting.
When it comes to the workplace, I kind of feel as if I do not belong. I only communicate with one other person in the office all day and that is for the translation of work instructions. At times, you feel alienated but it is one of those things you must fight through. You must commit to excepting the barrier and trying to learn more about the Spanish culture and language.