What went wrong in Nicaragua? This is the post I’ve held off on posting for some time. This is the post at some points where I was like “nah. Maybe I shouldn’t.” However I feel like honesty and sharing stories are quite powerful things. And if I can help a few travelers, do-gooders and people seeking out the expat life, then even better. So here’s my story. Here is what really happened in Nicaragua.
Sometimes things are not instagram-worthy. Sometimes you fall or say something awkward. Sometimes you just fail when traveling.
Looking over this past year of living and traveling in Europe, there were definitely some travel fails. So I thought I would recount some of the best … or worst moments when traveling.
All of these are sad but also really just funny. Like how could I have been short-sighted? Others just … the elements of nature got together and made some less than fun situations. All in all, they’re funny to look back over.
We talked about it for years. We made pinterest boards about it and mentioned it casually in conversation. We wondered if it would over come. And then it did.
My best friend is engaged! Like lots of women, I’ve known that I would be maid of honor for like the past 6 years. And she will of course be mine if and whenever marriage happens for me (ha!). It’s always an honor when I get asked to be in a friend’s wedding. You know they really like you when this happens.
So several things in my life have changed: my monthly salary, my diet, the bed size I sleep in and lastly, the country I live in. However it’s just for the summer. Don’t worry, I still call Granada, Spain my home. However I’ve realised that those of you who follow me on social media have probably noticed that my posts are coming from the Czech Republic. So I thought I would fill you in on where I am and what I’m doing.
Several days ago, I transferred $63 into my bank account from my PayPal. This money was from simply sharing things on the Internet. It was the extra little bit that I needed this month. It was awesome!
When I got to thinking about it, there are several websites and apps that I use that pay you. That’s right … they pay you actual money that you can deposit into your account. These three sites pay you to do what you already do. So since I’m a loyal user of all three, I thought I would share them with you all. Who here would love a few extra hundred bucks this month?
I’m just going to come out and say it. Life can be hard living in a foreign country, especially when there’s a language barrier. You then add in different norms for social behavior, different traditions and overall different customs, and it can be exhausting. I’m finishing up my 8th month in Spain and while this year overall has been amazing, there have been frustrating moments. I’ve realized more than anything that you have to take care of yourself first. My days and weekends are so much better when I’ve just taken the time for me. Here is what I’ve found works for me. I hope this can help any of you who are living the expat life.
Happy Mother’s Day to everyone in Spain and happy future Mother’s Day to those of you in the USA. This will always be a day that I’m fond of. Those of you who know me personally may be wondering why I just said that as the truth is, my mom passed away almost a year and a half ago. True, this could be a day where I cry, and feel all the feelings of anger and frustration. And some people who have lost their mother may be in that place, and that place is 100% okay. We all handle the death of someone close to us in different ways because we are all different people. That’s what makes the world beautiful.
However today I thought I would use my little space on the internet to write a letter to my mom. Even though she is not on earth, I want to take this time to really appreciate her and say thanks. That is what I would do if she was still alive, after all.
I speak a second language and I love just about every second of it. For those who may be new to the blog, I am an American living in Spain. Before moving to Spain, I spent a year working a bilingual job at a non-profit organization in my city. However if we’re being honest, I didn’t really pick up Spanish until just a few years ago. While I most certainly do not speak the language perfectly, I spend a lot of my life in Spain speaking Spanish. I love it.
Life is funny, isn’t it? I get to see the language-learning process in reverse for me living here in Spain. I work as an English teacher here, so I’m constantly helping Spaniards improve their English. Often times I know their struggle because I have been there. Other times I find myself thinking “you know this is what really helped me over this hurdle or that. You really should do X thing.” So I thought I would share my tips on the blog. These tips can be applied to all foreign languages. So here are 4 things that supercharged my Spanish.
1. I stopped saying that my Spanish was bad
I find Spanish people saying that their English is bad all the time. And I just kind of want to scream, quite frankly when they say this. We all know that positive thinking can do wonders. If you always think that you suck at speaking your foreign language, will you really improve? One day it dawned upon me that I frankly never had time to think that my Spanish was bad. I got hired to work a bilingual job and thus I had to communicate the best way that I could. Many people who called the organization spoke no English, so I was forced to only speak Spanish. What I noticed I started telling people was that I did not have perfect Spanish. And of course they would always reply with “well of course! It’s not your first language.”
So language-learners, replace “my French/Spanish/German/Arabic or whatever language you’re learning is bad” with “my Spanish is not perfect.” You’re not telling any lies as your of course it’s not perfect … you’re still learning. For me, it helped me to think more positively about my Spanish and speak with confidence.
2. Not. Everything. Translates.
When I first studied Spanish, I worked with Daniel from Coffeeshop Spanish. He had a dinner at his house and I remember a fellow student saying “if I could just translate my thoughts.” I responded with “honestly, that’s never going to be a reality so you might as well just accept that.” Maybe that was harsh, but I like the truth man.
In Spain, I find Spanish people all the time translating everything. I will tell them some phrase in English and they will ask me what that translates to in Spanish. And the truth is, not even all expressions translate. Idioms and expressions develop out of cultures … and cultures are different. So of course such and such phrase from German will not have a similar one in Spanish and so forth. Also sometimes one thing is a verb in one language and an expression in another. Perfect example is kick vs. dar una patada. In English, we just use the verb “to kick” when someone swings their leg in order to hurt another person. In Spanish, they use the expression “dar una patada” which literally translates to give a leg. It would just be strange to directly translate that to English.
When I speak Spanish, I try to jump into the Spanish world as much as I can and think in the language. I try to learn words or phrases within the language. And I do not try to translate every single statement back to English. I couldn’t hold a conversation if I did that.
3. I put myself in situations where Spanish is the only option
I realized that a big reason my Spanish improved rapidly is because I was continually forced to “find a way.” Working at Su Casa, I was forced to speak with people who only spoke Spanish on a daily basis. You learn quickly when there is simply no option.
So because this worked so well for me, I sought out a flat with Spanish people who all spoke little English. We all just always speak Spanish to each other all the time. I wanted to be forced to speak the language every day here in Spain, so I figured Spanish housemates (vs. other English teachers) was the best way to ensure that I would speak Spanish daily.
4. I stopped believing the b.s.
Apparently it’s harder to learn languages as an adult. However I never let that stop me from pushing hard. Also people also want to believe that some are just more wired for languages. I honestly think that’s a load a crap. Maybe there’s a slight truth to that, but the only reason I think I speak decent Spanish is because of how much I immerse myself in it. When Spanish people are amazed that I speak well for only having spent 6 months in their country. So I explain that I spent 40 hours a week for an entire year speaking Spanish. That really is the only difference.
I think that language-learning is hard and of course people get frustrated. And so these things can be nice excuses. However if you believe them, they will hinder your progress. And that is no good.
At the end of the day
I do not speak Spanish perfectly and there’s still so much I could learn. However it’s most important to me that I keep my mind positive. That positivity will help you make tremendous leaps and bounds.
The day that my best friend and I have talked about for years is just a few short months away. It’s absolutely crazy. Can you guess what it is? Yep, my best friend is getting married and I’m her Maid of Honor. I could not be more excited and happy for her. So today I’m showing off some bridesmaid looks from Millybridal UK, an online shop for bridesmaid dresses, flower girl dresses and other formal wear.
As I sit here and begin this blog post, I have about a million things going on in my head. I leave to teach my private lessons in an hour … I still need to look up exactly what I want to and need to see in Lisbon this weekend … I should probably post a photo to my Instagram. Now is a good time as my American followers are likely all waking up and starting their days while my European followers are going about their days. More eyes to see … oh and have I done laundry? … oh and my room is a mess.
I think we all know this feeling well. We have a lot to do and then we’re going on vacation. This coming weekend is what they call a “puente” here in Spain. Puente literally translates to bridge in English. However in this context, it means having several days off of work or school usually in regards to a holiday. This puente means I have next Monday and Tuesday off work. So I decided to take a trip to Lisbon, Portugal. Since Lisbon involves a bit more travel time, I figured a four-day weekend would be best.