Hola! Estoy en Playa del Carmen, Mexico. La pasada semana el huracÃ¡n Dean vino a travÃ©s de la ciudad. Pero ahora, esta todo bien.
Okay, that is my attempt to write in Spanish after a mere 4 weeks (give or take, due to my trip to NYC for the Weekend edition of the Today Show and Hurricane Dean). Learning another language is a pain in the ass and it takes so much brain power it is loco.
What I have found, is that you really need a good group to support your learning, and some nice people who can correct you kindly when you mess up. As many of you know, there is nothing worse than being corrected by an arrogant chica when you are trying your hardest to communicate in a totally different way with a completely different set of unknown words.
After doing months of extensive research, I chose to spend 4 weeks at International House, Maya Riviera. They were the first to respond to my request (remember, this is Mexico, not New York, so most schools took days to get back to me, International House responded to me the next day). Their website can be pretty hard to navigate, but once you get a live person communicating with you, everything becomes a bit easier. My experience has been a wonderful one (yes, there were a few chicas who gave me poco problemos, but they were other students, not staff).
During the hurricane, the director Teresa, was amazing. It was a freaking horrible experence, but she made it manageable. She had us all move into the school’s residence. I did not stay at the residence because the pictures of the rooms on the website suck. I was not about to spend weeks in a room with a bed against a wall. But the rooms are totally different than pictures on the website (the need to get a better photographer!). The residence is a very impressive building with free wireless Internet, 24 hour security, and a lovely shared kitchen and common area. The rooms all have refrigeratosr, hot water, and air conditioning. The rooms are amazing for the price ($25-$60 a night), if I had any idea how nice is was, I would have stayed there instead of spending over a $100 a night on a hotel room. Live and learn, right?
More about learning. If you want to start learning Spanish, try “Ahora Habla!” It is a very simple guided written by M.H. Graham. Basically the book takes daily situations and breaks them down into simple Spanish phrases. Then, it shows you how to pronounce the words. That is the best part of the book, learning how to say crazy stuff that your tongue has never wrapped around before. The book also includes some handy tips on cultural nuances. For example, I was openly yawning in class, and the teacher looked at me funny. I later read in the book that Spanish speakers always cover their mouth when yawning (note to self). For a beginner, it is a great tool. If you know how to conjugate your verbs, then this book will be too advanced for you.
The next step to learning is to get out and practice, practice, practice. Theory is great if you want to translate Don Quixote, but for real life, you need to go out and hablas espanol. Be ready to get corrected, which is great that people correct you, but expect to get frustrated. And if you are in a school were they don’t practice talking – then leave, it is not worth your time to sit and learn about past perfect.
Yeah, learning can be hard, but when you meet people like the ones I have met here, including Maria from Playa, Bruno from Italy, Rodney from England, Ricke from Germany, Sergio and Omar from Mexico City, Tommy from Florida, Chris from England, and Moses – the best dancer in Playa del Carmen, you can’t help but want to learn, share, and laugh with others who all are trying their hardest to learn. I feel like I am back in college, and I love it!
I have to learn my verbos en preterito and verbos que sufren cambios ortograficos now.
Adios, hasta manana!