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You Don’t Know Spanish Till You Get Here

March 9, 2012

[Guest post by Spencer Omuemu who arrived 3 weeks ago in Buenos Aires]

When I boarded my flight for Argentina I thought I knew how to speak Spanish. By the time I arrived in Chile for my layover and was sitting in the airport waiting for the flight to Argentina I knew I didn’t know how to speak Spanish. Sitting in the airport and listening to everyone around me speak in Spanish was intimidating to say the least. Little did I know that I hadn’t even seen the worst of it yet. This was the one aspect of Buenos Aires tourism that you would only understand if you actually came.

When I stepped off the plane and entered the airport terminal everything was in Spanish. Everything from the bathroom signs to the direction signs were all in Spanish. Nevertheless, I could still read them so I was ok. After leaving the airport I got into a conversation with the taxi cab driver named Ernesto and that is when I realized I was in trouble. When he began speaking I could only pull out one or two words and I couldn’t formulate responses. I finally realized what it felt like to be international. One thing I did understand is when I asked him “How do you think my Spanish is?” and he replied it is ok but here you will improve a lot. After that I realized I didn’t have to understand everything right away and it was not the end of the world if I could barely articulate myself to local argentines for now.

So for the past few weeks, while working at a Buenos Aires wine tasting company, I have been trying to practice speaking in Spanish whenever possible. Whether it is going to the grocery store and looking for Malbec wines or taking to every taxi cab driver I run into whenever I am able to I have tried to speak with a local argentine. I hope when I leave I will eventually sound like one.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 11, 2012 3:28 pm

    I hear ya! After a few weeks… well, maybe months… you’ll pick up the accent. Then you’ll go to another Spanish-speaking country, and they will look at you like you are a moron 🙂

  2. Ryan permalink
    June 7, 2012 7:14 pm

    How is it going? Are you getting use to the language now? Id like to move down there for a year. Would you recommend it? From NYC

    • June 8, 2012 1:30 pm

      Hey Ryan,

      My Spanish is fully fluent, but I’ve been here for 8 years and practice constantly. Would I recommend moving here? If you are looking for a Spanish immersion experience, great nightlife, great beef and beautiful people, then yes. For more info check out my podcast: Cheers!

  3. fee permalink
    November 19, 2012 9:39 am

    hi guys so is it true spanish thats spoken in argentina? or is it spanish and other languages mixed in? i ask as ive tried an online translation tool and the translation to english makes no sense at all! if anyone can help im trying to find descendants of my scottish grandfathers uncle who settled in around 1910. im finding communication a real problem. fee scotland

    • November 19, 2012 2:29 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Fee! Yes it is Spanish that is spoken here. I’m afraid I can’t be of more help than that as I don’t know where you would try to find relatives here. Sorry!

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