The perils of the American abroad.

Up until this year, I never really regretted my decision to take Spanish in high school. It occasionally comes in handy in the hospital, and it was certainly helpful on my occasional trips to Spanish speaking countries. (Mexico, Dominican Republic, Spain. Not, as it turns out, Belize – I did literally zero research on that trip beforehand, and spent the plane ride down wishing I had brushed up on my Spanish. Upon arrival I learned that it is a former British colony and English is their official language. Who knew?!)

As an American I have had the luxury of only needing to speak English. In almost all of the US, knowing Spanish is helpful but certainly not a requirement, and in most popular tourist spots worldwide, you will be able to get by with only English.

Now that I’ve moved to a relatively remote (read: no tourists, French-only speaking) region, a part of me wishes I had braved Madame Albeck’s classes at CCHS. I can accomplish some things with basic words and key hand gestures, but it’s pretty limited. And every encounter has the potential to be exhausting, if the person I am interacting with does not speak English and the conversation quickly exceeds my limited French. For instance, recently I had to go to the post office to mail something to the immigration office to complete my visa. I had looked up and memorized how to say “I need to send this via registered mail”, but then the clerk had several other questions and instructions for me. I could piece together some of what she was saying, but not a lot. It is tiring and frustrating, and I definitely need to remedy the situation soon by enrolling in language classes. 

Here’s our town’s post office:

Do you notice the palm trees at the sides of the photo? The diversity of the flora has been one of the interesting findings here. Due to the gulf stream it is a very moderate winter – rarely if ever do we get below freezing, and the summers never get super hot either. Good climate, apparently, for growing palm trees. 

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