This is the story of my 6 months of studying in Arizona in 2010 and subsequent travels in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I would be so lost if I did't know German!! Mexico day 4-6

Now this post has been in the process of writing for 3 days... A sign of the fact that for once I study really hard! :D

My first day in Spanish school started out with breakfast with Lita. Scrambled eggs with ham, refried beans, and something made with shredded tortillas and tomato sauce. Juice, cereal and bread was also available, so really everything I could hope for. At 7.30 we took the bus to the school, takes app. 30 mins. The quality of the bus is rather poor, but a ticket costs like 0.5$/3 kroner/6 pesos so can't really complain.

Arriving at the bus stop Lita carefully showed me where to get on the bus home, she even wrote me a note so I could be sure to take the right bus. "R-629-2. Not 629-1, not 629-A or B, but R-629-2!" Si, si, comprendo... :D Then she took me to the school, where I got some introductory information, and was tested for my Spanish skills with an oral interview. And then the challenge started. Obviously the teacher would have put me in the absolute beginners group, but the class I am in is not really a beginner level in my opinion. The three other students in the class has various skills, but none are starting from scratch. And the teacher does not speak English. So imagine the very common situation where I look completely lost over something she has said, and she accommodates my lack of understanding by explaining another way. In Spanish. Sigh. Actually I get most of her points, but I would really like to have a teacher who would translate directly to English, so I would learn more about how to build sentences, how and when to use certain words, etc.

That said, I feel like I am learning a lot! I have two notebooks where I write down all the words I catch, and spend the evenings going over my notes and adding more information. And I am so happy to know German, 'cause from there I can recognize many grammatical parts. E.g. the conjugations, the fact that the vers are different depending on who they refer to. If I had to learn this concept from scratch, I would be in trouble! Or even more trouble than now at least... But back to Monday afternoon.

I had class from 9 to 1, and then left the school to explore the city. I bought lunch and sat on a bench in front of the church in the sun to relax my brain a bit. Then headed to an attraction that turned out to be closed on Mondays, but free on Tuesdays, so I decided to come back the next day. On the stairs outside the building I met one of the guys who were sitting in the hotel yard that evening a couple of days before, and he recognized me. So I was asking him for some suggestions on what to do, but actually just ended up with an ice cream on a bench with my Spanish notes. So nice. :)

Went home with the R-629-2 bus, recognizing the signs on the way, which Lita had pointed out for me. Dinner was on the table for me to heat whenever I wanted, so I studied a bit before eating. Continued going over words and phrases and writing my blog till 11, when I really had to go to sleep!

Woke up at 7 to take my breakfast and get ready for school. Managed to be a little bit late, but the bus this morning just took longer, because it was later in the morning and there was more traffic. Another day with all Spanish for 4 hours. I kinda understand what the teacher is saying, but only her points, not the specific words, and I find it almost impossible to say anything. I simply do not have enough words to make a sentence - FRUSTRATING. But of course I cant learn a new language in a few days, so I have to arm myself with patience (dunno if this saying works in English - Danes will understand for sure. :))

In the afternoon I went to see Hospicio Cabañas, and old building that used to be an orphanage. It didn't look like that to me, but nonetheless... It had some beautiful murals and little patios, and since it was a free-Tuesday, I enjoyed not paying for the entrance. :) After this cultural injection I went back to school to take part in the 3-4 PM conversation class, with the topic of "Day of the dead". If you have followed my blog through the semester you might remember my description of the Tucson event in November. Otherwise, check it out! The class was not very useful, as my ability to actually say something is non-existing. Though to be improved! After class I waited around for an hour to ask Mario about a tour to Chapala, and was talking to two Mexican guys in the meantime. I helped them understanding of some English phrases while they helped me out with some Spanish words. Win-win. :)

Back home I was SOOO tired, so basically only managed to watch two episodes of friends on the flat screen tv in my room (!) - English with Spanish subtitles. That also counts as studying, right? :D Did my homework, got some dinner, and fell asleep around 10.30.

Wednesday morning, 19th January, we had a class trip to another IMAC school. First we had a regular class for an hour, and then we met with some Mexican English students. Like in the conversation class the idea was, that we should speak English half the time and Spanish the other half. Just not totally cool when one is not able to say three coherent words in Spanish. However, the English part was kinda fun! I was paired up with a kid aged 13 or something like that, and the whole group went to a café to talk and play a "20 questions to the professor"-kinda game.

Lita was cooking caldo (soup) for lunch, and it was gooooood! Afterwards I called my mom via skype and with the webcam, to have her "meet" my sweet Mexican mom. Was really fun! :) And since that time, 3 PM, I have been studying, only interrupted by a little dinner consisting of tortillas with beans. Me gusto mucho! Now its 10.45, and my brain feels like jelly. I still feel unable to put together a sentence, but at least I have expanded my vocabulary and grammatical understanding a bit more! I think that basically Spanish is a lot of fairly easy words, but with crazy conjugations. So when I hear someone speak I can't recognize it, but really it is conjugations of words I already know. Pew... Only way out is more practice I guess! Two more days in school, then I'm off to test my skills in practice!

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