After taking (and surviving, for the most part) Spanish classes from eighth grade all the way through to sophomore year of college, I thought I was pretty slick with my Spanish capabilities. I’ll go so far as to say that I thought I was hot shit for being able to speak Spanish so well.
Nothing has been so humbling in my life than coming here and realizing that I know absolutely nothing about Spanish. I cannot tell you how frustrated I am with not being able to understand anything anyone is ever saying and not being able to produce a full sentence that actually makes sense and gets the message across.
A friend of mine that previously was a student in this program came to Argentina not knowing a word of Spanish. He is now, for all intents and purposes, conversationally fluent. I asked him if he thought that he would’ve gotten more out of his experience in Argentina if he had come into it knowing Spanish. He said no. He explained that his other Casa mates that spoke Spanish were able to polish their Spanish skills and learn a lot through that, and that was wonderful for them. My friend is a very verbose person who loves to talk and express himself through words. So for him, much of his learning stemmed from the fact that his ability to speak was taken away from him and he was forced to find other forms of communication. That was the challenge and what allowed him to grow in his experience.
So after hearing this from him, I feel a little better about my own experience. I realized that even though I wanted to be practically fluent by the time I leave Argentina, there is much more to this experience than that. I will continuously be learning and growing immensely no matter what happens with my Spanish.
I still wanna be fluent though!