I’m having the craziest language experience in Ecuador with Spanish, English, Chinese, and Kichwa. Check it:
- I’m living in a Spanish-speaking country. My host family speaks only Spanish to me, as well as store clerks, waiters, strangers (haha), etc. All of my classes are in Spanish, including my homework. My mind is constantly processing and translating from Spanish to English (and vice versa) that sometimes it just overloads and melts. Though it’s been tough, it’s definitely worth it. My Spanish has improved like tenfold and I actually feel confident about holding a conversation with a native speaker. It’s far from perfect, but I’m gonna keep pushing to learn!
- Even though I’m immersed in a Spanish-speaking country, most of the people I hang out with are English-speakers. I’ve met a lot of Ecuadorians, but we’re not tight enough that we hang out often. Therefore, I still speak English on a daily basis and it’s sometimes a great break for my brain. By the way, if you didn’t read my reflections on being an international student, take a look here: https://karenli1.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/reflections-on-being-an-international-student-what-it-feels-like-to-be-an-outsider-and-why-you-should-reach-out/
- When I skype my parents back home, I speak Chinese! I usually skype them once a week, but it’s crazy how each week, I feel like I’m losing more and more Chinese. The thing is, even though Chinese was my first language, I never really learned to read or write it. I’m illiterate in Chinese. I’m just a heritage speaker. It makes it that much harder to retain it all. That’s why I keep speaking Chinese with my parents- otherwise I’m gonna lose a huge part of my cultural and ethnic identity! AH!
- I’m taking a basic Kichwa class at USFQ! I figured that if I was going to be in Ecuador, I’d better take advantage of what that offers, including learning an indigenous language. The class is moving pretty slow and I definitely haven’t learned enough yet to hold a conversation, but I feel like I’m getting to know Ecuadorian culture a lot better because there are a bunch of Kichwa words that are just incorporated into the Ecuadorian vocabulary. I actually also visited an indigenous village this past weekend (I’ll write about it and post photos soon) and got to practice my Kichwa! Like I said, I can’t exactly hold a conversation, but I think the people I spoke it to really appreciated my effort.
OK, so the title of this post is misleading because I’m not exactly quadrilingual… but I am using four languages at once, so that kinda counts right? It’s super cool and I’m having tons of fun just comparing the different languages (usage, phonetics, syntax, etc.). Alright, it’s late and I don’t know how to end this so I’m just gonna peace out. Dios le pague for reading my post. HOLLA.