SPANISH, CHAPTER 3: The Frustration

Learn Spanish in Buenos Aires, Argentina

As mentioned in the 6-month Status Update, my formal Spanish lessons have been put on hold as of late due to tight funds. I have been working on a proposal to trade Spanish classes for marketing services but to be honest, I just haven’t finished it yet.

Even without classes, I’m still learning a ton through co-workers and friends. I’m also trying to watch more Spanish TV to attack this beast from all angles like the boys from Sandlot. It’s frustrating though… I just want that damn ball already.

The funny thing is, is that I’ve met a few people who I’ve asked “How’s your Spanish?” and “How long did it take you to learn?” and their response was… “oh it’s great” and “I just picked it up after living in blah blah blah for a few months.” Bull Shit. I’ve heard a lot of these same people attempt to speak Spanish after I’ve asked them this and its a joke. You show me someone who says they’ve learned Spanish (to an almost fluent level) in a few months and I’ll show you a liar (or a genius). If you are one of these people please contact me and tell me how you did it. If you already know a second language and/or you are from Switzerland you don’t count.

Anyway, a difficult thing lately has been meeting with so many English speaking people. It’s great for building relationships but it slows down my bilingual growth (sounds gross right, bilingual growth, ha). At the same time, there’s really no other option. I simply can’t have the same conversations with business minded people in Spanish. So if I want to keep networking this is what’s going to happen. I need to find a balance between the two. However, the other day, I did go to a Google e-commerce meeting, which was entirely in Spanish and I picked up on most of the key points. Although, I did get lost during most side conversations.

Hands down, the hardest thing lately has been at the bar. I feel like I’m at this point where I’m stuck in the middle between spurts of understanding and completely lost. On one hand, I’ve been here too long for it to be okay if I don’t understand a basic conversation, but on the other, I’m not far enough along where I can comprehend an extended dialog with someone.

When Buller gets busy at night the wait staff and managers start talking faster and it gets harder for me to understand. It gets frustrating for everyone if I have to ask someone to repeat a question or comment. Some people have just referred to saying “no entiendo” (I don’t understand) whenever I start talking and one girl even just walks away as soon as I open my mouth. She’s not very nice.

It’s hard for everyone because they’ve known me since I have first arrived and didn’t know anything. Now, I understand more but still far from fluency. So, I really am stuck in the middle. For example, their are two directions my Spanish conversations usually go in the bar. One, people will avoid me all together when it’s busy and just ask others for help, even if it’s something simple I can understand. The second direction is, people will talk to me like I’m fluent and at some point I get lost and we all get frustrated. I can’t blame them, sometimes I will say “you can ask me (in Spanish), I understand” and then other times when they do ask me… I don’t.

The most frustrating part of it all is when I have something to say during a busy night or need to make a point. Most of the time I can’t say it fast or clear enough to keep their attention. Other times I try to find words I know to explain something I want to say and they just don’t fit. For that reason, when it’s busy, I relay a lot of my comments and/or questions through Mika, the other bartender who’s Argentine but speaks pretty good English.

BRIGHT SIDE: I speak my best Spanish via text messages. With texts, I have the time to think about what I’m saying and read, and re-read everything before I send it out. This is great news because I don’t have to rely on Google Translate to have simple digital convos. It’s also nice because I don’t have to wait until I’m in front of my computer to respond anymore!

However, with all this being said, this is what I came here for and although it is very frustrating at times… I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If it was easy everyone would do it.

SPANISH, CHAPTER 1: The Struggle

SPANISH, CHAPTER 2: The Pressure

My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!

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