Monday, May 14, 2012
What I Learned in Chile
Then, came my first experience trying to converse with a local. I walked up to the ice cream counter and listened to the worker very quickly and abruptly mumble something. "What in the world had he just said?", I thought. Surely I could have picked up at least one word. Nope. Nothing that came out of his mouth sounded familiar to me. I felt discouraged and sadly pointed to the flavor I wanted, meekly saying "Durazno, por favor." My dreams of having an actual conversation were going to be a lot more difficult than I expected.
I realized then, that it would be really easy to retreat into my comfort zone and rely on my older sister to speak Spanish for me on the rest of the trip. She had, after all, been living in Chile for the past year and a half and could speak the language fluently. But, I made a decision to speak as much Spanish on that trip as I could. Repeating signs as I walked past them. Greeting workers in a store. Patiently speaking with waiters as they took my order. And then, something happened. Towards the end of our trip, I was walking with one of my sister's Chilean friends down a road. Somehow, we had separated ourselves from the group and were enjoying a conversation, just the two of us, that lasted about 10 minutes... in Spanish! The words and phrases were basic, but they were Spanish!
It would have been so easy to let my first experience at the ice cream shop determine my entire trip, but I learned that with will and determination, YOU can make things happen.