Friendly Directions

11 12 2009

Over the last few days I’ve been struggling a bit with the fact that I spend so little time talking Spanish. I try hard to cut down the amount of time I spend in English each day – writing emails only for a limited amount of time, avoiding English tele etc (mind you the dialogue of English in my head is inescapable :). But while that only cuts down English it doesn’t increase Spanish conversation. There are only so many times a day you can subject those you live with to inane conversation just so you can practice Spanish. I meet with Virginia twice a week, half of which is in Spanish and then there’s dance class – not really conversational.

I met and American who goes every day to a bar to practice Spanish with whoever is there. While I’m not quite up for that – I did get a kick in the pants from that conversation so yesterday I decided to make a friend. I went to a little shop near the language school and rather than having a brief ‘nothing’ conversation with the girl who works there, I started a conversation. Elena hasn’t finished her degree but she’d like to go back to complete it next year. She works a ridiculous amount of hours on her own in the shop, loves photography and ideally wants to be in photojournalism. And she also wants a dreadlock in her hair. And she’s my first Chloé-initiated friend in Spain.

Feeling buoyed by my effort, when someone asked me for directions later to the Town Hall (directions I couldn’t really give in English the streets are so windy and complicated) instead I took them on a walk and chatted (albeit limited conversation) all the way to my bus stop and gave them directions for the last 100 metres.

It’s great to make friends in my city and help people around in my city. And today racing up the stairs I got that sense again that this place is my home – and while other people would never guess it since I sound so lost and confused in Spanish, I’m feeling like I belong to it and it belongs to me.

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