Time and Communication

It is said that time is subjective but I’ve never realised just how true that is before these past 2 and half weeks. If I think about 2 and half weeks during the school year- when I have a routine and each day is the same as the next, possibly with a slight variation in what sport I have on after school or the quantity of homework I have to do- I would think it’s a reasonably short amount of time. However these past 2 and half weeks have felt more like 2 and half months. I guess that’s what happens when you’re constantly learning, constantly having new experiences and most notably constantly concentrating!!

Back in Christchurch I’d come home from a long day and just relax, have a conversation with my brothers, or mum and dad. However now when I come home the challenges are just beginning. At school, here in Argentina, I’m speaking English for a large amount of the day, except with the little kids when I have to explain things in Spanish, however when I get home I speak with my host family in Spanish. Now, this is challenging! Sometimes I find myself listening to what someone says how I would if I was listening to some speaking in English before realising that I didn’t understand a single thing! I can understand however it just takes a lot of concentration and sometimes I just can’t Spanish!

Recently I realised something, that I’ve been saying I know ‘un poquito’ (a little) Spanish for about 3 years now. It’s not that I haven’t improved, it’s just that the more I learn the more I realise I don’t know. I think I’ve graduated from knowing just a little now, but still I prefer to keep people’s expectations low so they don’t come at me with some rapid fire Castellano. When I have time I’ve just started saying ‘yo puedo entender pero es más difícil para hablar’- I can understand but it’s more difficult to speak. Because that’s the truth of it!! Never judge someone’s ability to understand a language by the amount they can speak!

Another thing I’ve come to realise about languages while I’ve been here is how inpatient and rude some New Zelanders can be to non-english speakers! I’ve maybe encountered one person, serving at McDonald’s who spoke to me super fast and then got annoyed when I couldn’t understand but the majority of people are so incredibly patient and helpful. They want me to learn their language and know that I’m not stupid I just don’t speak Spanish fluently. However sometimes they don’t realise that I could in fact understand the words if they just spoke slowly! I guess that brings me to my next point- how incredibly kind and friendly everyone is!

This is a culture full of hugs, kisses and saying hello to strangers(not in a creepy way). Every time you great someone it’s with a kiss on the cheek, no matter how many people there are everyone will welcome and farewell everyone that way. For example, at the end of the school day at the primary school the principal stands at the door and kisses every single student on the cheek! Well, there are only 130 of them but still. Also the other day I went to the shop and every time someone would walk in they’d say hi, not only to the person at the counter but also to all the customers lined up to pay and the same when someone left! I’ve been told that this is more the culture of Lobos and that it would not be the case in the city however all the same it’s just so lovely.

Also the other day I started volleyball(known as Volley here). I was so nervous because, well, I didn’t know anyone, I don’t speak the language that well and I didn’t even know how to play volleyball. However, it was the only sport here I could play cause apparently girls only have the option of hockey and volleyball and insurance rules out hockey so Volleyball it was. Anyway, I was standing there for maybe 1 minute before a girl comes up to me and starts talking to me and asking me questions and they were all like that! So friendly and didn’t even care that I didn’t understand half of what they were saying, they were just so happy to teach me how to play and ask me questions about New Zealand. I was actually pretty decent at it thankfully.

This is already pretty long so I think I’ll write a different post on the food here, my typical day and where I live!

Thanks for reading x

Stella

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