Sunday, February 04, 2007

I miss my language (by Helen)

I have had this realization how much I miss hearing, speaking and seeing my language. And not for all the obvious reasons, but for more of a deep longing to be myself. One of the main reasons we wanted to come here was to totally immerse ourselves in another language, and intellectually we knew it would be hard. It is like before your first child is born and you intellectually know that your life will change, but you don´t really know. Not being around my language is a profound change. We didn´t really know what that would mean. I express who I am through how I communicate with others. It has amazed me how much communication can take place between people with barely speaking a word, and while it is often warm and welcoming, it is mostly utilitarian, it is not the poetic dance that conversations can be. Ideas cannot be shared, debates cannot be had, intimate humor is not possible. Daily familiarity is lacking in all our surroundings. Every sign, every product in the grocery store, every item on the menu is a mystery. Even the computer knows where we are, and speaks to us in spanish. You know how sometimes you want to accomplish something on the computer and so you just weave and bob your way through drop down windows? Well, that is nearly impossible in a foreign language. Interestingly though, I hear a lot of music in english. Credence Clearwater on the bus, classic rock in the café, & Celine Dion in the supermercado. Also, there are some english TV channels, but mostly they show old shows, and shows that were cancelled in the US. CNN has an english broadcast, but it is very different than the CNN at home. We are lucky to have met some people who speak english, and we can have a relaxed dinner out and easily converse; I truly enjoy those hours. Living experiences like this helps me understand others. I have heard immigrants say how much they miss the beauty of their language, and now I understand what they mean.


Caroline G said...

I know what you mean, Helen. The intricacies of a language are so beautiful. I'm in the C. Burr Artz library as I type this. There's English all around me. It's like the flippin' National Gallery of Art in here!

You can talk my ear off when you get home. Promise.

Jos said...

Sorry Helen. . .although I have yet to experience this (I depart on Sunday from New York to Mendoza for two weeks. . .ALONE), I can only imagine what it must be like.

I speak and write Spanish and yet have trouble understanding my one and only friend in Mendoza. This will be quite an adventure for me.

When do you return home?

Kat Acosta said...

We have a man working here for me that doesn't speak english. He is learning, but I can imagine he feels just the same way you do. He has a friend who is able to interpret, but it just isn't the same.

I miss you.

emilyeffinconrad said...