Thursday, October 15, 2015

Meeting Abuela Tica by Amanda Strong

Finally, it came time for us to spend two weeks in San Jose. During these weeks we were to stay with a Costa Rican family whilst taking courses at the Costa Rican Language Academy. It hadn’t really kicked in yet that I would be living with a new family and adjusting to a new routine. The morning of our departure to our new homes went by very quickly- much more quickly than I had been prepared for. I felt a bit nervous and very excited. I was a bit ashamed of my Spanish speaking skills and didn’t want my new family to be disappointed in me. I mean, who comes to someone’s home to live for two weeks and doesn’t know how to speak their language? Of course, they were completely aware of my Spanish level, but I suppose it’s just the principle of it that bothered me.
            Before I knew it, we were parked in front of a house and my name was called. In about three minutes all of my bags were in the doorway and I was watching the bus as it continued on its journey to drop off my colleagues to their new homes. To my relief, I was greeted by a small, elderly lady who was very relaxed and seemed pretty happy to see me. When I explained to her that my Spanish is not good and that I wanted to work on it as much as possible, she looked at me with assuring eyes and replied, “next week, we will be talking much better” in Spanish. As simple as it sounds, her words were just what I needed to perk up. From that point on, we had very simple conversations in Spanish. We talked about her herb garden (which I was naturally obsessed with) and her family. Every now and then we would laugh at ourselves for not being able to find the right words to say in order to understand each other.

            For the rest of my two weeks there, she would always sit close to me at the table and talk to me- like, really, really talk to me. She seemed to be genuinely interested in my family life and what I wanted to do in my future; what’s even more outstanding is that she remembered everything I ever said about myself, even things I didn’t remember telling her. Sometimes, she would watch me so closely that she knew my habits (likes and dislikes) without me ever saying a word, and she adjusted to me without having to ask. She was also very supportive when I lost my Uncle on the last week of my visit. At the time, you may have mistaken her for being more heartbroken about it than I was; that’s how much she cared. She checked up on me and encouraged me every morning to have a bright day. Sometimes it’s the small things that help a person move forward with positivity. For me, she was that person for those two weeks- not only in my Spanish, but just in my life.

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