Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do much for Carnaval. I went to Avilés for a little bit Saturday night, but I’ve been sick for a few weeks and couldn’t do much this weekend. Something else has been going on for a few weeks too.
We were advised that we might experience some ups and downs while studying abroad. I’ve had a few small ones since being here, but I hit my lowest low this past weekend. It probably started a few weeks ago and went downhill since, but I’m pretty sure I’ve figured out what was wrong – I wasn’t doing anything, including speaking Spanish. I had gotten into the habit of staying home if I didn’t have anything to do. I wasn’t exploring the city, asking other people to go out and do things or traveling a whole lot. Why?! I’ll get to that later, but what I’ll say now is that it wasn’t working.
The worst part is that I wasn’t even speaking a lot of Spanish, which surprised me because the language is the main reason I came to Oviedo. I was pretty much only saying what was necessary to my host family (¿Qué tal?, estoy bien, me voy para la cama, hasta luego, etc.) and not really making conversation like I had been during my first few weeks here. I was even speaking almost exclusively English with all of the other Temple students I came with, something I swore to myself before leaving that I would not do. I have a Tándem partner too, but we’ve only been meeting once or twice a week for an hour or so.
I hit the lowest point in my slump this past Tuesday morning. I had been frustrated that I wasn’t speaking Spanish and that I was getting worse at it, and because I was so frustrated I didn’t even feel like trying anymore. So, the cycle continued and, in my opinion, I was slowly losing my ability to communicate. I had also been sick for a while, which only made my attitude and mood worse.
Anyway, on Tuesday my host mom took me on a trip to see a few little towns on the coast of Asturias. When I tried talking to her in the morning as we were leaving, I couldn’t say what I wanted to. And when I say couldn’t, I mean I literally could not form sentences and it felt like about 90% of my vocabulary was simply gone. I was at the point where my heart started racing, I started feeling really nervous and thought to myself “What if I go back to the U.S. without having improved my Spanish at all?” That’s when I took the reigns and decided to turn things around.
As my host mom and I traveled from Tazones:
to the beach of Rodiles:
I really, REALLY tried to talk more and more. We got lunch in Lastres (fabada was on the menu, which I LOVE by the way):
And by the end of the day, I had noticed a significant improvement in my ability to have a conversation. A significant improvement in just one day! Imagine how well I would speak if I were using just Spanish every single day? For that reason, I made a promise to myself. I’m not extremely religious, but I try to give something up every year for Lent and, you guessed it, this year I’ve given up speaking in English, apart from when I have to (i.e. on skype with my parents, with my Tándem partners, etc.). I figured this would be the perfect way to really force myself to do this. It seems to have been working so far – in the few days since Tuesday morning, I’ve seen a huge turnaround in not only my speaking but also in my attitude.
Going back to the reason why all of this way happening, I’m pretty sure it has to do with feeling comfortable. We’ve been in Oviedo for six or seven weeks now and it’s starting to feel a lot like home. Arlene, the other blogger from Oviedo, wrote a post a week or two ago about everything being new and exciting wearing off and feelings of normalcy starting to set in. Here’s the link. Anyway, this is definitely what was happening to me. I feel so comfortable here, which can be a blessing and a curse. It helps ward off the homesickness, but it also stops you from exploring and actively trying new things. That’s why I’m going to try and keep in mind that I’ll only be here for three more months and that I don’t want to go ‘home home’ 1) not being able to speak Spanish and/or 2) regretting not having done everything I wanted to because I settled down too much. I saw this picture and thought it would be appropriate to post: