Monday, September 28, 2015

To Have Another Language Is To Possess A Second Soul.

Listen. Learning languages is tough. Like, sometimes I kind of want to roll over and die because my brain is a constant jumble of words in English and Portuguese and Spanish and because 99% of my time speaking Portuguese is spent focusing way too freaking hard on making sounds that I cannot physically make.

Grammar and sentence structure is similar in Portuguese and Spanish which is a huge help, and a large handful of vocabulary is similar. But that's where the similarities stop. Don't let anyone fool you into believing that if you know Spanish, you'll be able to fully understand Portuguese. It's a flat out lie. Especially here in Rio where the accent is INCREDIBLY different from Spanish.

Between English and Spanish and Portuguese, I feel like brain is constantly "ON". And, honestly, not making a ton of sense of anything. I'm exhausted ALL the time. And while I can blame part of that on late night reading in bed, a lot of it is due to always trying to listen and understand and translate and think of a response and translate and repeat. Conversations take a LONG time. 

All day, every day.
Not only am I constantly having to really work at having conversations, but the world around me is in Portuguese. Leaving my house means coming in contact with Portuguese. Going shopping (especially trying on clothes)? Better believe I have to talk to someone in Portuguese. Dinner and drinks after a week at school? Good luck ordering that food if you don't speak Portuguese. Want to get your haircut? Want to get your nails done? Think if its actually worth the time and effort. I am fully capable of doing those things (and doing them well!) in English and Spanish, but literally every single this is more difficult here because I don't speak the language. 

My brain is constantly on. Constantly. And it's tired.

In order to give my tired brain a break, I decided to start taking Portuguese lessons. Which, honestly, is something that I should have done a long time ago. But I didn't and here we are now. I've officially had three classes and am really good at saying things like "calma, relaxe, sem estresse" (calm down, relax, without stress). It's obviously a process, I'm not going to be fluent in just three lessons. Eventually it'll get easier and my brain can relaxe.

I must say, that even after only two lessons, it was awesome to go out to dinner and have a "conversation" with the waiter. The waiter who unknowingly followed the exact script that we learned during my first lesson. Thank you, friendly waiter.

By conversation, I mean the following:
"Boa noite. Meu nome é Antonio. É o seu?"
"Meu nome é Caitlin. Muito prazer."

And then I reverted to pointing at then menu to ask for what I wanted to eat. In my defense, it was really freaking loud in the restaurant and I was seated far away from where he was standing to take my order. Baby steps, ladies and gentlemen.

Also, this is how I feel 100% of the time when talking to people who say that I should be fluent in Portuguese because I speak Spanish. Preach it, Batman.

1 comment:

  1. Hang in there,'ll do fine!