Ego Check: The struggle of learning another language

I took a communication class in college. I needed extra credits to become a CPA so I took a class I expected to be a bit easier. It was easier, but I learned that communication is not as easy as it appears, even when you are speaking the same language.

Flashback to my first day on the job (in Cordoba) and I realized just how difficult it can be to communicate. I had not spoke Spanish in years, let alone studied. I was thrown into a situation where people just expected you to understand what they were saying. In reality, I understood about 40% and had to use context, ask for it to be repeated, or even write it at one point.

Google translate became my best friend. I wanted to cry the first day. It is very humbling to be trying your absolute hardest only to completely misinterpret what was said and have to have someone save you or respond for you. I felt like a child. I still feel a bit like a child.

But it has gotten easier, and I think a bit more of my Spanish is coming back. I am still awful at conjugating verbs and many times will just say multiple versions hoping the person will correct me. I also tend to use the masculine for feminine words or vice versa. It is hard for me to comprehend how wrong that is when there isn’t an equivalent in English.

Even though learning Spanish is one of the hardest things I’ve done (yes, for me harder than the CPA exam), there is an immense sense of satisfaction when you complete a conversation. Or when you effectively get your point across. Especially when you are sitting with a group of people, who all seem to speak more languages than you, and they switch between English and Spanish and you can follow, it is one of the most enjoyable experiences I know.

I think everyone should be required to live or work where their mother tongue is not the language. In the U.S., I have heard people become frustrated when a foreigner cannot communicate in English. I think these same people would have different opinions if they had ever been in a situation like that. The journey to becoming bilingual may not be easy or comfortable, but it is rewarding.

Ramblings on Happiness

Coming back to Barcelona is like coming home. There are so many emotions. I get so excited. I just love being in that city. What makes it doubly nice is that I actually know people there too. I spent most of my time just wandering around the city that I love. Which also, allowed me to visit just about every Zara the city has and thanks to some of the amazing sales going on, I just had to buy a few things.

Cafe con Leche y un croissant is also a must have every time I return to Barcelona, for me.

Cafe con Leche y un croissant is also a must have every time I return to Barcelona, for me.

I left a few things behind in Barcelona, like my heart. JK. I really left behind like a jacket and old shoes and sweaters. But seriously. It was so hard to leave. I was so sad. The days went by so fast. And it was so good to see friends I hadn’t seen in years. But new adventures await and without change, without growth, we’d become bored, or worse, boring ourselves.

I’ve spent a bunch of time in Barcelona so I apologize but I won’t be making a post about touring the city. I highly recommend trying to get to know the locals as they will give you the best advice. I went to a restaurant with my friend and they were out of the potatoes. My friend said she would give them a 1 star on Trip Advisor to which the manager responded, “Please do, Tell everyone it is the worst.”. This is the world we live in. Somethings are meant to be special and not exploited online. So I will not be sharing this wonderful place. But if you find yourself in Barcelona, you can message me and I’ll tell you if you are lucky. It is dominated by locals. (the Place was amazing and I had some of the best Rose Cava).

In Barcelona, it is hard to find a good place for salads. However, Flax & Kale is amazing for the vegetarian and salad lovers.

In Barcelona, it is hard to find a good place for salads. However, Flax & Kale is amazing for the vegetarian and salad lovers.

On the plane ride over to South America, I watched a film called Hector and the Search for Happiness. It was a bit corny at parts but I could relate. This man, a psychiatrist, leaves everything behind in London, and goes on a journey to ask random people what happiness is to them, and if they are happy. Long story short, he finds out that the journey is more important than the goal of being happy, that the journey was really about him being happy, and that happiness is the result of challenges and changes.

Barcelona is definitely one of my happy places. What is yours?

Barcelona is definitely one of my happy places. What is yours?

I know this too well. Someone will ask why I’m not happy. And you can’t just explain it. Troubles aside, which always seem to come and go, I have a conscious feeling when I’m not living up to my expectations. I could feel myself becoming stagnant at home. I tried to do things to change things up, but after a month or two, I’d become bored and go back to the easy life. I can’t just be happy. It is certainly the results of action. Like when I booked my flight. I was giddy. Straight up so excited. The overwhelming potential, the realization that it was happening, and the fact that I had previously worked hard for something I wanted and I could finally reach the finish line (one of many that are sure to come throughout life).

You alone are responsible for your happiness and you have a right to it. You alone, can figure out how to be happy, or what will bring you happiness. Some people need the stability of a home. Some need the adventure of the unknown. I need that unknown. That hope that something greater than my wildest dreams could happen. Because in honesty, that was how I initially felt about Barcelona. Believe it or not, when I finally settled on Barcelona during college, I was a bit sad and suspicious. I had wished MSU had a program at Madrid, or wondered if I would have liked Mexico more. Little did I know, I was going to a city that I would forever be having a neverending love affair with.

So the bottom line? Take the chance even if it scares you. Do something unknown, even if you aren’t sure if you will like it. Because you will never know, if you don’t make a decision. You will never grow, if you stay in the same spot. Life is meant to be lived in full color and motion.