Sometimes I feel like I am living in another country right here on U.S. soil.
There have been times in my life where I have wished I spoke another language, and I’ve often felt like it would be a benefit. This is the first time that I have felt at a disadvantage because I only speak English. I was in a meeting for wives the other day that was entirely conducted in Spanish.
It is immensely frustrating to be well spoken in one language but like a 2 year old in the other. I am quite shy in new social situations under normal circumstances… so this just makes it worse. It is hard to be left out of conversations and constantly relying on others to translate for me. I have a whole new respect for people who have come to this country and had to flounder around without speaking English well. I don’t think I’ll ever be so intolerant again.
I found out today that I am eligible to take Spanish classes while we are here. I’m not sure how I’m going to work that out with childcare for the dutchkid, but I’m going to have to find a way. I can’t think of another time when I’ll be quite so motivated to learn. And if we do move to another country in the future (which is a possibility) I absolutely do not want to be in this situation again.
Over this past weekend the international family we are sponsoring arrived and it has been an interesting few days. I can already tell that my Spanish is going to rapidly improve. I think this next year is going to be about as close to immersion as I could get here in the States. An unexpected benefit.
The downside is all the awkward exchanges in the meantime. We had them over for lunch yesterday and today the kids (aged 10 and 18 ) stayed with me for an hour or so while dh took their parents to finish up some paperwork. I’m sure it was comical to watch us try to use hand and arm signals to get our point across, punctuated by broken Spanish and English. They love my dogs and Coke. Universal language, there!
Tonight someone else stopped by because another international family arrived with two very small kiddos, both of whom need car seats. Their sponsor was telling us that they don’t use car seats like that in the country they are from. I just bought the dutchkid this awesome new seat that will hopefully allow her to stay in a 5 pt harness for much longer, so we have an extra convertible seat lying around. My dh had offered it, along with all of the other infant junk that I can’t bring myself to part with yet. I normally would’ve felt much more attached to my baby stuff but can you imagine? Coming to a foreign country and having nada?! That mama definitely needs it more than I do!
I have been here almost a month. Why is it that I still don’t feel settled yet? I finally got some curtains up in the kitchen and I mopped the floors for the first time today, so maybe that will do it.
The international students are arriving soon to attend the school my dh is in. We will be sponsoring a family, which should be interesting. It adds to my angst that I am one of the very few U.S. wives I have met who does not speak Spanish very well. The international families undoubtedly will not speak English very well, if at all. My dh is fluent in Spanish, so I’m not really worried… but it would be nice if I could carry on a conversation without sounding like such a gringa. It’s always amusing because thanks to my Mexican genes, I am the one who looks like I should speak Spanish, my dh is the white boy.
If the tables were turned and I was flying to another country and setting up my household from scratch, I know I would be so nervous and worried about everything. I imagine the student’s wife is feeling the same. I just hope that we can get them settled in short order, as I have to fly home next week for my mother’s wedding. I’m feeling bad about leaving my dh alone to handle it all, since he’s already overwhelmed with his grad program. That’s another post in and of itself. My dh is making self-pity an art form, let’s just leave it at that. I’m trying not to let on that I am very excited to get out of the oppressive heat here and hang out with my family. Summer in Michigan! Ahh, paradise.