Wednesday, February 10, 2010

On Being an Outsider


I think it's safe to say I've experienced my first real case of culture shock here in Alcala. Walking home from class each day, I usually find myself thinking about The Tower of Babel. Surely it's a curse that we don't all speak the same language!

I spend 4 hours every morning trying to understand and speak a language that has different possessive cases, gendered nouns and articles, written accents and tildes and a verb tense that doesn't even exist in English (thought); not to mention you have to say everything with a lisp (sorry Andrew). And all this without the ability to ask a single question in English because no one would understand my "foreign" language.

Because of this, I often feel like an outsider watching from a distance what's unfolding right in front of me. Unable to be involved in the thick of conversation, in the intricacies of communication, or in the freedom of expressing yourself, I'm forced to sit and listen and painstakingly try to put together (incomplete) pieces of a picture.

If there was a way other than slow and arduous learning to close this gap or tear down this proverbial wall, I would march around it however many times necessary. But alas, the language barrier remains and I don't have an army -- just a little pickax of stubborn intent, hoping that the crumbling will begin shortly...

3 comments:

Karyn said...

Oh, language is a curse beyond a curse. Don't worry though, I'll buy us both the collars that the dogs wear in the movie "Up" so we can speak and understand everything. "Kevin's a girl?"

Sarah said...

If I was more emotional when I watched the movie UP, I would have been on the verge of tears if not crying basically that whole movie...it's quite doleful...but I did appreicate those collars as well, it would be quite helpful in your current residence Kitty. At least you have a good base of Espanol...in fact I bet you understand a lot, it is just harder to communicate...

BrownTown said...

Sarah,

You don't have to tell me twice about the movie UP. Talk about the worst decision of my life: watching that movie with Andrew the day before he left for basic training. I'm sorry...wasn't this supposed to be a movie about multi-colored balloons? Oh no? It's about death? Awesome.