No Habla Espanol

So… the national language in Costa Rica is Spanish.  Which happens to be the language that I decided not to take during my sophomore year of high school because I wanted to take a math before I took the PSAT, and taking Spanish would not allow me to do so.  I fell in love with the French language in 10th grade and continued to study through four levels in the three years that I had left in high school.  During my second semester at Ohio State, I officially declared a French minor and am continuing my studies in college.

In the months leading up to the trip, I was super busy with rehearsals and a full course load so I didn’t really have time to learn any Spanish. I knew we would be staying with host families that have had experience housing American students before, so I expected to find that they spoke some English at a minimum.  My surprise to learn that the organization that was responsible for choosing host families looked for families that specifically did not speak English quickly turned into a serious concern.  Literally, I do not speak Spanish.  Thats basically the extent of all I know how to say confidently.  I was extremely worried when I found that my family really spoke very little English.

That being said, communication was extremely difficult for me.  I understood very little of what was being said to me most of the time, and even when I did, my responses were very limited.  I found that my family didn’t believe that I understood because of my face didn’t often express complete understanding.  Towards the end of trip, I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with my inability to communicate.  I kept thinking about how I if I was in a French speaking country, I would be perfectly fine.  I felt lost in a culture where I didn’t even have a reliable life boat.

Considering the fact that I entered the country with little to no Spanish knowledge, I actually learned a great deal.  I can now communicate on the basic level of  a 2 year old learning to speak.  I do think that being thrown into a situation that I was clearly not comfortable with caused me to learn quickly — it was either sink or swim.  I chose to swim… or at least stay afloat.  I have developed an appreciation and interest in the Spanish language and would like to continue to grow in my speaking capabilities as I would like to return to Costa Rica in the future and often.  After all, being multilingual is one of my life goals.  🙂


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