I am one week into my study abroad experience here in Sevilla, Spain. So far this has been the best few days of my life. I have met so many amazing people and have already learned so much. However, my listening comprehension is worse than I originally thought. I can hear the words and such but I still translate them in my head which slows my comprehension down. When I first met my señora, whose house I am living in for the duration of my stay in Sevilla, I immediately hit this communication barrier. However, she knew from my facial expressions that I was not completely understanding her. She slowed her speaking down and I was better able to understand her. I am slowly warming up to the Spain Spanish accent more and more. I see myself improving but I think that I need to branch out, even more, to truly make the most of my time here.
The Hard Truth
Over the past few days, I have been trying to find quick-fix ways to improve my Spanish, but there is no quick fix. I have come to the hard conclusion that in order to improve my listening I must be constantly immersed. Here in Sevilla, I have to especially listen because they speak with a strong accent. Sometimes the words sound like they run together or get cut off.
People here in Sevilla are extremely helpful and patient when I am speaking or get confused. It takes some of the stress off of making mistakes and eases the learning process. In fact, the institute at which I study has a Spanish only policy. It states that once you enter the building all of the staff will be speaking to you in Spanish in addition to any classes being taught.
On the first day, my business class was a lot to handle. My teacher was speaking fast and almost everyone in there was understanding her way better than I. It made me extremely worried. But with the proper encouragement from friends and my own want to over this challenge, I am doing better.
Each day gets a little better than the last when it comes to understanding what is being spoken to me. By only listening to music in Spanish and doing my best to only communicate in Spanish I am building a constant world of Spanish exposure. I think that with the way I am exposing myself to the language, I will start understanding more in no time.
I Saved a Kid’s Life… At least I like to Think So
As a side note, I have a funny story about my communication experience. I was walking back to where I live with another friend who is also studying abroad and there was this kid running down the side of the road. The kid looked to be about four or five, and he was hauling it down the sidewalk. His mother was yelling at him to stop saying “para, para”! But the kid was not stopping and he was about to cross the street into oncoming traffic. So I am thinking this is the perfect time to use Spanish and save a life. So, I turn around and say “Pasa!” I said “happen” instead of “stop,” but the kid heard me yell at him and he stopped dead in his tracks. Not even five seconds later a car turns from around the corner.
Even though I said the wrong word in Spanish, I like to think that I played a part in saving that little boy’s life. Now, if I was as good as I would like to be in Spanish, I could have given him a stern talking to about listening to his mother. But until that time comes though I will continue to practice my listening and communication skills.