I’ve taken Spanish for over 5 years. I took it in middle school and did fine. I took it in high school and did fine. I took it when I lived in Spain and did fine. But, for some reason, it’s still incredibly intimidating to me. This was the case each and every family dinner while in Barcelona. My host mother would talk in perfect Spanish to my roommate, who also spoke fluent Spanish, while I sat their dumbfounded looking at my plate.
Whenever my host mom tried to talk to me, I struggled to find the right words, even though I knew perfectly what to say. At one point during the trip, I was a bit sick. My host mom asked how I was doing, and I tried to explain that I was embarrassed but I accidentally said I was pregnant. Apparently, “embarazada” means pregnant not embarrassed. She quickly laughed, knowing I had misspoken. She corrected me and said, “inferma”, at which point I realized my mistake and laughed in extreme discomfort.
After that humiliating conversation, I grew only more quiet- scared that at any moment I’d embarrass myself once again. Regardless, I do think my Spanish has improved and I’ve enjoyed putting it to the test while abroad. I’ve also learned some new words that are key to what I’m studying. Some of my favorites include “periodismo”, which means journalist. It’s not only a helpful word for my studies, but is actually a pretty word to say. Similarly, I like the word “entrevista”, which means interview.
These two words have been crucial to my time here. Every time I call someone, begging for an interview, I scramble together the same phrase, “Yo soy un estudiante de los Estados Unidos. Estudiando periodismo.” Basically, I am an American student, studying journalism. Without my new favorite words, I’m not sure I would have gotten all the entrevistas I needed.