As many people know I have a big mouth, I love to talk and am often hard to keep quiet. Well put me in a country where I don’t speak the language and I become a teeny weeny little mouse, too shy to say a word even though I do know some Spanish basics. When people speak I freeze and can’t comprehend what they are saying and just point to things on the menu. If I do build up the courage to speak Spanish I seem to pick the people who are in a hurry and speak English because it is easier for them.
Besides sucking it up and starting to put myself out there my secret weapon to learning to converse in Spanish is watching the Kardashians and other mindless reality TV. Yes, that is right, Kim and Kourtney take on New York has become an educational experience because it is mind numbing TV, I can listen to what they are saying whilst reading the subtitles and trying to connect the words. This is what I tell my man friend however I am beginning to worry that I am developing the early stages of an addiction to gutter TV.
I keep telling myself that everywhere around the world has safety issues and bad things can happen to us in Melbourne so here is no different, it is all about being aware of your surroundings. This helped keep me from freaking out in my first week when I walked casually through SWAT police lined up out the front of a shop, and maintain calm when loud blasts came from protestors across the street while waiting for a bus (pretty sure whatever they were using to make those cannon like blasts would be illegal in Australia). In both situations I stopped, evaluated and realised the police at the scene remained calm, so just keep doing what I was doing and all would be okay. However no one is in a hurry in South America so I am not sure this is the best benchmark to evaluate a situation.
The slow pace and reaction levels of South Americans is something I have embraced. Like many Australians I find waiting around and lining up extremely irritating. After one week I am used to the laid back need for urgency with anything, nothing is ever quick. In Australia where we have one person in a store to do everything, here that role is broken down into 3-4 employee roles. For example, when getting a mobile SIM card we had to speak with one person to say what we wanted, then sit and wait 10minutes to tell another person our address and then sit and wait another 10 or so minutes to confirm these details and receive the SIM card, then go to another person to pay for the SIM card. But wait the process is still incomplete, now we have a SIM card but no credit so we had to go to another level in the store to buy phone credit.
Life in Argentina has not all been difficult to embrace, the late night dining has been greatly appreciated especially with recovering from jetlag. For those of you unaware of the Argentinian lifestyle 9pm is considered early to go out for dinner.