A Mexican Birthday Party

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So one of my fiancés aunty just turned 70, so all her family and relatives were invited for a small party in one of my fiancés uncles restaurants. Now I’ve been to a few of these ‘gatherings’, and on a few occasions I really didn’t enjoy myself.

I’m not saying the people at these gatherings are terrible people, they are not at all! They are all just so nice, friendly and every single one of my fiancés relative are lovely people. I’m very lucky to be joining such a loving family. So it’s really not about the company.

My problem is that I can’t speak Spanish well enough to communicate. Well I can speak some Spanish, but I definitely cannot give my input on anything other than ‘What’s your favourite food’, ‘What did you do yesterday?’… etc.

I usually feel sad when I’m at these parties, just due to the fact that I can’t talk. I can’t join in. I can’t give my opinion on anything. So I usually just sit there, look around, and smile when there is a joke being shared. I just feel so uncomfortable. That’s why I usually get anxious going to these events.

So we arrived in Mexico city and we met everyone and thankfully I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. I really enjoyed the day. Although I still didn’t understand pretty much anything, I wasn’t as anxious or stressed when I didn’t understand. I think this was due to the fact that there were about 20 people in the room. Usually I get more anxious when it’s a smaller group.

So I think thats what helped the situation a lot. The thing is I want to talk to people, I want to make jokes, I want to join in, I want people to see the real me, and not the one that just sits there and doesn’t do or say anything. My fiancés family don’t know what I’m like, and I really want to show them. So it’s difficult. I feel like they see my body but not my personality.

I suppose I want them to see ‘Look, this is who your nephew/cousin is going to marry…. sometimes she’s funny, she enjoys talking about this or that… she seems like a nice person, I know why Rafael is with her’.

I guess I just want to seem interesting, because when someone doesn’t speak your own language, it’s hard to get to know that person and find out what they are like. Then you kind of ignore the person because whatever you say to them they won’t understand, so you just keep away from them.

And I don’t want people to think that of me. I think my fiancés relatives are beginning to see what I’m like though. Most of them speak English so that helps ALOT! But you know, when they are together they just speak Spanish.

There are a few more gatherings (Mexican families LOVE family gatherings) so I hope they will go ok too. I just wish my Spanish was great, and I could blabber to all of them. Not perfect, but good enough that I can speak fluently, confidently and get my point across. That’s all I want for the moment.

It’s very frustrating… and these are the times when I really miss Ireland and being able to speak English to everyone.

Aisling.

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My Parents Are Coming To Mexico!

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I can’t believe it myself. It had to take a wedding to get them to come. I should have thought of something like this while in China (as they never visited me there). So wherever I live next, I’ll know that I’ll have to think of something very creative for them to make them think it’s worthwhile to visit me.

Agh but anyway, rant over. . . they are coming and that’s the main thing. I would have loved for them to have stayed for 1 month, but 3 weeks is all they can visit for. They will be here a few days before the wedding, and then after that’s over with, we can think of what to do with them and where to bring them. 

They haven’t been on a long distance plane for…. oh since 2001, when we went to America. So this will be a relatively new experience for them! I’m going to have to write out every detail that will happen at the airport, just so they are prepared for it all. I know they will be stressed so at least if I give them a detailed plan of what will happen and what they need to do, then at least they will know all this in advance . Plus when you get through security it’s easy from then on. 

They have a layover in Amsterdam so we made sure to choose one that wasn’t too short. I had an experience of running to the gate because our layover was ridiculously short. So I don’t want them to have to worry and stress about that. 

I hope that after their trip they will be encouraged to travel more. They have become too settled in their ordinary day to day lives. Even to just visit France or Spain, maybe Portugal. Maybe if I stay in Mexico longer then they will visit again, and we can take them to more places in Mexico. There’s just so many beautiful places here. 

Unfortunately my sister, her fiancé and my two nephews can’t afford to come. I understand completely but I was pretty upset and sad about it. I only plan on having a wedding once and it’s upsetting to know that they won’t be here for it. Or that they won’t be able to see Mexico and where my fiancé is from. So I’m pretty sad about that. But I know that if they did they would have a big loan to pay off and I don’t want them to have to worry about that….. and all this due to my wedding. I’d feel pretty guilty.

But hopefully one day they will be able to visit. I know they would love it here!

Aisling.

Learning Spanish in Mexico: My Study Routine

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I’ve been in Mexico since October and I’ve tried to keep studying my Spanish and talking in Spanish as much as I can. But it’s hard sometimes!

Usually my daily routine goes like this:

In the morning I’d usually do 2 wheels from Duolingo. It’s not too taxing for me in the morning and I like seeing how my wheels change colour when I’ve studied them. I’m going down my tree turning every wheel one colour, so the whole tree will be green/blue….. Then I go back up to the top and start turning them another colour. It depends on the theme/ grammar point in each wheel, but usually 2 wheels will take me between 30-45 minutes to complete. (Especially the harder ones which are lower on the tree, also if I keep getting them wrong).

I also sometimes read some Duolingo Stories, but these are really when I’m in the mood. I don’t feel like they help me much for studying, but some stories are interesting to read. 

Then we usually have lunch and I try and speak Spanish, but usually I just eat in silence because I’m not particularly talkative even in English! But this is a good time for some listening practice, as my fiancé and his parents LOVE to talk, so that’s good for my listening! I know I need to work on this though, so I’ll try and make an extra effort in speaking during this time. 

I find that after lunch is the most difficult time to study. I’m tired (maybe due to lunch) and just want to take a nap really! So I end up usually just procrastinating during the hours of 2pm-4pm. So again, another thing I need to improve on. 

Later on in the afternoon I sort of get my energy back up again and I start studying grammar. I have one book called ‘Collins, easy learning; Spanish Grammar & Practice’ and it teaches basic spanish grammar. What I like to do is read every thing that I’ve studied before in the book, and then start a new grammar point. I try and understand it and then do some written exercises which are in the book. I get my fiancé to go through them and explain to me if I got something wrong. 

I have another easier book to use which I switch back and forth. This one is a classroom based book with dialogues and what not. 

It’s starting to get dark outside now and I move onto something else. I’ve set each day of the week (bar 1) where I learn 10 new words . So maybe on Monday I look at my calendar and see I have to learn nouns, so I learn 10 nouns for that day. I have 5 things to learn; nouns, adjectives, verbs, tenses and tense conjugations. So first I will learn my nouns, then I will review everything that I’ve learned from these 5 categories. For example,  I’ve lots of nouns that I’ve already learned so I go back to the beginning and re-read them all. Sometimes It’s boring but I realised I remember pretty much all of them just by reading them everyday. 

The same goes for adjectives and what not.  I think maybe I could push to 20 words per day, so I think I might slowly increase my new vocab. At the beginning I was learning 30 words everyday and by the end, having to learn so many made me dread that time of day! So now 10 is very easy for me. 

So all that takes me a while to do, but It really does help me. I’m not stressing myself if I forget an adjective or tense, because I know I’ll review them tomorrow and the next day, so they will stick one day!

After this, I might dabble a bit with some listening practice by watching YouTube videos. I usually do this sporadically during the day. 

Then, I have a list of questions in Spanish on my computer and I have to write an answer and learn them off by heart. The latest one I learned was ‘Que hiciste ayer?’ …’What did you do yesterday?’. So I try and write it in spanish, and then my fiancé comes and corrects the mistakes. It’s great having him nearby to fix all of my errors! After that I try and learn every sentence off by heart, until I know the whole answer. Sometimes It’s difficult as I’m using tenses that I’ve haven’t studied yet, but I don’t want simple answers, I want answers that are complicated and so I learn new vocab and tenses. 

Sometime during the evening I try and spend an hour speaking with my fiancé about a topic in Spanish. I’m grateful he takes the time out to help me with my spanish, as he’s busy doing his own things. 

I might also use another book which is an Irish exam paper. There are two levels, higher and ordinary,  with higher level being more difficult. In it there are exam papers that student’s do for their Leaving Cert to get into University. Every practice exam paper has stories to read and then questions to answer underneath. I enjoy doing this and I can notice they are getting easier to read, especially when I remember reading them while I was in China! 

Finally, I like to read at night so I downloaded some free spanish kindle books to read. I really enjoy reading so this isn’t a chore for me at all, unless it’s super difficult! I’ve watched some tv shows in Spanish with the family but I lose interest after a while because I just don’t understand anything. Watching a film in Spanish that I’ve already seen before in English helps though, as I already know what it’s about so it’s not as bad. Plus sometimes a programme/film will be in English with Spanish subtitles, which I would rather not watch! 

So anyway, theres my day of learning Spanish. I try and speak Spanish throughout the day but I know I need to stick in extra speaking time, but it’s difficult as I’m not a lover of talking. I know I’d improve faster if I spoke more, so I’ll try and make an extra effort with that. 

Aisling

Preparing For Our Wedding

So, wedding stuff…… lights, flowers, music, alcohol, food, dress….. oh and that list goes on and on and on. . . 

With our wedding a few months away, we’re now on the clock to get everything sorted for it, and let’s just say, I’m very happy that we only have to go through this once! It’s only one day, but there’s so much planning and preparation that goes with it, I don’t think I could do it all again! This is the time when you need a wedding planner. (If only I had like tonnes of money to be able to get one) 

I still don’t have my dress, and one that I liked was too expensive. Now I have no real idea what wedding dresses cost as we haven’t really shopped around, but let’s just say it’ll be hard to find a cheap one! And what was planned as a small ‘party’ in our garden has turned into having it in an event venue with toasts, ceremonies and everything else that comes with weddings! I kept saying to myself, and others around me “It’s not really a wedding at all, it’s more like a party”. I was trying to make myself think that “it’s just a party, only a party, nothing crazy like a proper wedding, definitely not…….it’s just a small party”. But no, it’s not ‘just a party’ anymore, which scares me! 

I really don’t like being centre of attention, and a whole day being about me (and my fiancé of course) scares the living daylights out of me! Thankfully it won’t be a huge wedding, maybe with around 50 guests. I can handle that number. 

I suppose I just have to think ‘everyone getting married goes through this’. Everybody. I’m sure there’s not one bride or groom that won’t be nervous, stressed and secretly terrified about their big day, so that comforts me a little. 

But anyway, the next few months will be focused on the big day, and it’s hard not to think about anything else. When you are tight with money, you need to be careful with your budget, how much everything costs…blah blah blah. 

Oh, and I’ve learned…… photographers are EXPENSIVE!!!! I never knew how expensive they were. That’s another thing that we need to think about. I read a few years ago that one thing you shouldn’t skip on is having a professional photographer at your wedding. Yes they are expensive but they take much much better photos than anyone else at the wedding. Plus you’ll always have memories of the day by having beautiful photos. So it’s expensive but I think it’s necessary (unless you want blurred photos taken by your drunk relative as your memories)

Thankfully we are having it in Mexico, a country that is known to be cheap, so hopefully that will help our budget. We are just trying to have a cheap but nice wedding day. I know it’s an important day but I don’t want to blow loads of money on just one day. Cheap doesn’t mean it’s going to be a bad wedding. Plus with both of us not working isn’t helping, it’s not nice having our money slowly but surely disappearing, with no way to replenish it. 

With regards to our honeymoon, we haven’t really talked about it. We’ll most likely visit somewhere nice in Mexico. First get the big day out of the way, and then we’ll talk about the honeymoon. 

The countdown is on! 

Aisling

Worrying

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So with my latest posts, I was talking about how I enrolled in a Spanish course in a university here. My second time going was a bad experience, you can read about it here: No, It Didn’t Go Well

We decided to go and meet the teacher and explain to her that the level is too high. So, it turns out that the other two students that were in the class have been studying a year at the university, so they use Spanish every day because their course is in Spanish. So that is why their level is so good! I’m guessing on their free mornings they come to have class just to strengthen their Spanish. So I was worrying and wondering how I was stuck in with them when they were supposed to be ‘basic’ like me. Unfortunately the teacher never told me this, so I couldn’t understand why they were in my class. Apparently theres only two levels available to take, so they just came to the lower class. Maybe they have class before or after so 10am was the only time to go.

The teacher said that I can continue going and just observe the class, so I can improve my listening at least.

So the day after I had class and I just couldn’t go in. I just sort of had an anxiety panic attack. I just didn’t want to go in and have to sit there while the the others are blabbering away and me not being able to understand anything. I just hate that feeling.

On Wednesday I arrived to class and chat chat chat was all I heard. Again I couldn’t understand much. She asked me some questions and I ‘tried’ to answer, but when the others are talking I just can’t understand. Yesterday I went in again and there were 4 male students, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t understand about 80% of the class. Honestly. It was very difficult for me. They were laughing and joking about something and I just sat at the side just doing nothing. I couldn’t participate or anything.

So I came out of class a little down again, thinking ‘Is this what I have to deal with 5 days a week? I have to worry every morning about going in to class which I shouldn’t have to worry about. Every class I’m anxious that she’ll ask me something and I don’t understand. Maybe they’ll be chatting about a topic and the teacher will ask me “So Aisling, what do you think about climate change? and I’ll be sitting there like an eejit because I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about, never mind giving my opinion on something more advanced than talking about myself’.

These are the things I think about. And I know it’s stupid. I know I should just go in there and try. But I can’t try because I can’t participate. I don’t understand anything they say, so I can’t even try to say something.

So for this week I went in 2 days, today (Friday) I woke up and just said to myself “Nope….not going in today”. And I didn’t. And do you know what? I feel absolutely great today! I’m not worried or anxious about the class. I’m not annoyed at what I didn’t understand. I’m not sad after it and thinking “Oh I said that wrong, I should have said this…” I feel wonderful today.

Anyway, that’s my dilema! Either go to class and struggle, but know that I’m getting something out of it (god knows what because at the moment I feel like the only thing I’m getting out of it is stress). Or I could just not go and be happier, but then feel annoyed that I’m not going and at least trying. It’s a tricky one!

I don’t want to feel like I’m giving up. I really don’t. But the class is just so difficult for me. If it was the level that I’m at and I just didn’t go, then yeah I would be giving up. But this situation is different, so it’s harder.

I’ve also started seeing a therapist for my anxiety. I’ve wanted to go while in China but it was expensive. So I talked about how the class went to him and why I worry a lot. So we’ll see how that goes!

But anyway, today I feel happy and worry-free. So that’s good.

Aisling

No, It Didn’t Go Well

My last blog explained how I started learning Spanish in a university for 5 days a week. Today was the second time I went and let’s just say it didn’t go very well.

Yesterday it was only me and this only guy, and it went ok. The teacher went over some simple stuff and I thought it went fine. The guys Spanish was much better than mine but sure I’m in the basics class, he can’t be that good.

So I arrive to class again and theres another student there. And blabber blabber blabber was all I heard…in fast spanish that I didn’t understand at all!

The class went like this: the teacher asked a question to the other two students. They talked fluently and fast. Then it got to me and I didn’t understand what she was asking. She repeated again and, yet again I didn’t understand.  Aw it was so frustrating.

So while the two other students were chatting away, I just did nothing and stared into space because I just couldn’t understand anything they were saying.

Also the attitude of the teacher annoyed me aswell. She didn’t try and use her body to help me understand. She just repeated the question again, maybe swapping one word out for another.

One question she asked me was “Give me a suggestion on how to put on weight”.

The word I didn’t know was ‘to put on’, so of course I didn’t understand the question. Then asked me “Give me a suggestion on how to lose weight”. Again I didn’t know what the word for ‘to lose weight’ was. Again there was silence.

I feel like I just annoyed the teacher because I couldn’t understand her. So for the rest of the class she just sort of chatted with the other two students about god knows what. I just felt useless.

Now I’m not annoyed at myself. (Usually this is the case), I’m just annoyed that she told me that this was a basics class. I’m basic…. the other student’s are definitely not! They seem to be intermediate.

The book she uses is basic, and it suits me fine, but todays class was more like a discussion on this and that, and I just don’t have the Spanish for that. I admit it, I need to learn basic beginner Spanish.

So I left the class upset and just feeling down about the whole thing. I don’t want to have to worry every day about going to class. I really don’t. My aim is to be happy in life, and I know this will just worry me and put me down. Thankfully we don’t have class tomorrow, but I’m already worrying about Mondays class.

I’m seriously considering not going, because I don’t want to worry myself. I want to be able to go without worry and knowing that I’m in the same level as everyone else. I want to enjoy the class, and today I certainly didn’t.

I don’t even feel like the teacher likes me that much. It might just be me but I just felt like today I was annoying her because I couldn’t understand and I was slowing the class down. She should have known that the class was too advanced for me, she did an interview with me to assess my Spanish!!

So I’ll see what happens. But at least I’m not annoyed at myself. My spanish is just lower than theirs at the moment.

Aisling

It’s Actually Sticking In My Head

It’s Actually Sticking In My Head

Spanish, I mean. It’s slowly beginning to stick….. I’ve realised this with how I’m improving on Duolingo. It would give me a sentence to translate into Spanish, and I’d give it a go, thinking that it is wrong…. but nope! It was right! That is happening more and more now which I’m happy about.

I would really recommend Duolingo if you are learning a language. It helped me out a lot at the beginning, and I really just used that and spoke with my fiancé. This was all while I was in China, so it wasn’t possible for me to take classes. So I learned the basics of Spanish just by myself and trying to practice speaking with my fiancé.

Just yesterday I joined a spanish class in the University where my fiancé studied all those years ago. (The private companies are horrendously expensive) This one is extremely cheap for the semester, and  there are 3 other students in my class. I go Monday-Friday 10am-11am. So that’s 5 hours altogether. I’m in the basics level so my Spanish is still low, but I’m just happy that they had a class that I could join.

Today was my first day and it went so so I suppose. There was only 1 other student with me and he could speak more and understand more than I could. I only realised that he has been in the class a while now, and they have gone through half the Spanish book already.  So I joined very late in the semester.

I’m glad I joined but it kind of made me realise how much I don’t actually know. Yeah I know the basics but I’m still messy with tenses and my listening isn’t the best either. The other student was blabbering away and I didn’t understand him a lot of the time. I don’t know whether it was the vocab that he was using which I didn’t know, or that he just had a strong accent and that was why! I’ll pay attention tomorrow and see if I can figure out why!

So tomorrow there may be more students. I wonder how their Spanish is? I hope I will improve a lot in the next few weeks. Or at least get better with the tenses!

Aisling