My college Spanish classes have been very different from my Spanish classes in high school. High school classes focused on grammar while my college courses have put an emphasis on culture and literature.
But in high school we ignored a verb tense called ‘vos.’ And for four years my teachers told me, “A very small group of Spaniards use this tense, you’ll never need it. Don’t worry about it.”
False. Because that very small group of Spaniards just happen to live in Andalucia and now I happen to live in Andalucia and I must use this tense during the next five months. It’s a tense used to speak about a group of people (they) or when you, personally, are speaking to several people but referring to them all as you (ya’ll). It has been very interesting trying to pick up on this and luckily I brought a Spanish grammar book that I’ve been using to study every night.
So the grammar has been a struggle but seeing as my past two and a half years of Spanish have been aimed towards culture and literature, my vocabulary here is lacking as well.
Today I was looking for my soap and I said to my friend (in Spanish), “I can’t find my … sopa.” I had good intentions, but sopa means soup despite it being an almost-cognate-ness for soap. She looked at me and said, “For what?” (Thinking I meant I was rummaging through my bag for a can of Campbells) “For the shower,” I replied. “Oh you want jabon,” she said. (Jabon is the actual translation of soap)
Oh right. I would want soap for the shower.
Later I was telling another friend about my Spanish mix up and I was laughing at myself and said, “So then I realized I wanted the jamon for the shower.”
While jabon and jamon may sound similar, jamon is ham. So no, I didn’t want my soup or ham for the shower. But each day I’ve been learning more and more and although my days of cramming for high school vocabulary tests hasn’t helped me much right now, I am learning the differences between soup, ham and soap.
I suppose it’s the little lessons that I learn here every day that are going to make the biggest difference. Mark Twain said, “Education consists mostly of what we have unlearned.” And I have to agree. So far, my education here has been a lot of what I unlearned in my previous Spanish classes because I found it unimportant then. But now, I sit here and hunt for my soap and the word evades me because I unlearned it so long ago. So now, my real education begins as I’m thrust into a world where soap, ham and soup seem interchangeable to me.