Talking to a coworker this morning about how we went abroad in college. Our other coworker went to China (to a place I couldn't understand the name of and now I am embarrassed to ask), I went to Barcelona, and she went to somewhere in Scotland. She is seriously trying to convince us that not understanding Scottish accents well is the exact same as our experiences of NOT KNOWING THE LANGUAGE WHERE WE LIVED AT ALL.
NO, THAT IS JUST NOT UNDERSTANDING THE ACCENT. THEY ARE SPEAKING THE SAME LANGUAGE AS YOU. Any differences in the language can still be explained back and forth IN ENGLISH.
I imagine Spanish was easier for me to deal with than the language the guy who went to China had to learn (I don't know which language it was).
I really hate hardship olympics (not that going abroad is a hardship - just that this bitch is trying to-one up the challenges of going abroad) and so I am not playing it with her. I'm playing it with you.
On a side note, if you have never had the experience of having to learn a language because you live in a place where you can't really communicate with people, it is sort of magical. It was frustrating at times but I really loved learning it. In my experience, a lot of people spoke some English - but it was limited to selling me things, mostly. So, that was helpful when I needed to buy things. But it was difficult to form relationships, explain complex concepts (school was a nightmare), get things you need when they weren't food or directions. I got lonely and became an eavesdropper - because sometimes that was my only way of having true emotional interaction with other humans; to listen to others'.
When I left Barcelona, I could understand Spanish fluently (and picked up quite a bit of Catalan). I had enough words to be able to communicate anything - even if it was awkwardly talking around something. I didn't get FAST at speaking but I was fast at listening, which I thought was interesting. It made me very quiet, generally, because I was always listening and absorbing, which was probably quite healthy for me. It's been several years, and I've forgotten how to speak Spanish except for basics, but I can still hear it really well. I can listen to it and understand - just not respond, haha.
When I got home, I tended to forget that I was capable of speaking to people I didn't already know. So, like, when I'd walk into a store, and someone asked to help me, I'd just nod or smile - I would forget I can speak. I had to get used to walking up to people and joining conversations at parties again. I was used to listening, and not responding, so I did that to tons of people speaking English.
Any experiences to share?