I am not dumb. I by no means am saying I am ever the most intelligent person in the room, but I like to believe I’m a good conversationalist. I pride myself in being warm and inviting. Being in Mexico has been hard. Being in the hospital with incredibly intelligent people has been difficult. Some of them have cast me off as dumb, some talk to me, when I ask them to repeat it because it was just a little too fast they laugh and go off to talk about the “gringa”. There are a few who are patient. They allow me to stumble over my words and offer helpful suggestions when I get stuck. There are some with whom I have began a language exchange: they talk to me in their growing English and I talk back in my growing Spanish.
It has been frustrating to be left looking dumb or uninterested. I am desperately interested. I desperately want to participate in the rapid banter that happens around me. I am getting there, but I am not there yet.
This experience has also opened my eyes to the experience of those who go to America and experience the same. It has drawn my compassion for those who are in my classes struggling to keep up. I can’t wait to go home and embrace these people to let them know that I know it is hard, I know it is frustrating, but if they need practice, I am there.
I knew that learning a language would be difficult. I knew immersing myself in a language would be even more challenging. I am grateful for it. I am thankful I am here. I will continue to meet the challenge that is learning a language head on.
I would encourage the same of anyone else. Take the challenge. Be prepared to be frustrated. Some days you will wonder why you started and then others you will have a (mostly) full conversation with your Uber driver and you will know why you started. Learning a new language opens up a world of possibility. It changes your brain and makes you a better person overall.
So seriously.. do it.