-Solo un poquito.
That's been my go-to response whenever someone asks if I can speak Spanish for a while now. Every time I do, I feel a slight embarrassment and reinvigorated motivation to achieve my goal of fluency. For me, it's been a goal to speak Spanish fluently pretty much my entire life because I didn't learn it in my household, but as a Latina I always felt that was a part of my heritage I was missing. I learned Spanish but not deeply throughout school until high school.
It was then that I began to take more advanced classes and learn not only the grammatic and pronunciation aspects, but cultural and historical contexts as well. All of my teachers were fantastic and clearly had a passion for the language and cultures. I discovered many new facets of the world through their classes. I was able to take AP Spanish Literature, which introduced me to the works of famous authors, poets, playwrights from Spain to Latin America. They inspired me and filled me with a greater desire to travel. I knew that when I did travel, I would go to a Spanish speaking country.
I had an extensive background in reading, writing, and for the most part understanding Spanish, but of course that last step of speaking is still difficult. In the United States, I rarely tried to speak Spanish from fear of embarrassment. Being in Spain, I wanted to practice as much as possible and was convinced just being surrounded by it was enough to force me out of my bubble. At first, I was able to communicate simple things and was feeling confident. But then when the conversations became more complex, my confidence broke down. My reluctance afterward to speak Spanish during my first few weeks held me back; I shrunk away from opportunities to speak just because I didn't want to be wrong, and I lacked the confidence to initiate conversation, even with my host family who encouraged us to practice. But I wanted to speak with them and be able to manage outside of the house, so I made it my goal to have a conversation in Spanish every day, whether it be with my host family or a fellow student, I would make it happen.
So that's where I am now, continuing to learn (I am taking a Spanish class here as well) and speaking much more. I'm even texting in Spanish to several friends! Sometimes when I struggle, the other person may try to default to English. It can be frustrating and causes my confidence to falter, but I continue in Spanish to prove to myself I can. Learning another language is difficult, but for the most part the people who I've encountered are more than willing to help me learn.
Even my friends who came to Spain with almost no Spanish have learned so much while here. It's also important to try, because it not only gives you a global perspective, it enriches your life. So I will continue to practice. And when I am asked, "¿Hablas español?" I will repsond in true Spanish fashion, "Sí, dime."
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<p>Juliana Trujillo is just a girl from Colorado ready to do big things. A love for learning, family support, and food inspired her ambitions to study abroad. She is a Bioengineering major with a Chemistry minor with a passion for promoting STEM equity and equality. In her free time, Juliana loves to read, be outdoors, or read outdoors in addition to spending time with friends and family.</p>