Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly in the Plain, Thoughts on Surging Over a Language Barrier

Please CLICK ON THE ABOVE IMAGE to better enjoy the details

One Wet Terrier

El Parque de Buen Retiro

Madrid, Espagna

Photo altered using Photoshop CS4,
Original work is the copyright of, L. Shimer, 2010

Dogs can usually figure me out - humans - not always.

Spanish dogs seemed to understand me easily, no matter in which language I spoke to them. Madrillenos seem to like dogs as much as Californianos do. It seemed like every third person in Madrid, had a dog on a leash during the paseo.

I was very glad that I am comfortable using Spanish on my recent trip to Spain. I think it would be difficult to visit Madrid and the environs, without some proficiency in the language. My most challenging encounters with Spanish came when I was working through the process of buying train tickets within the Atoche Renfe metro/train station. When I became uncertain about where the train left from (turned out I had to get a train to another station - Chamartin- first!) , broke down and asked for help in English, it simply was not available. I just had to figure out how to come up with other words to use, to ask my questions.

Next day in Chamartin, confused by the displayed departure information, I again asked for help in English. My request was met with a shrug and a referral to another clerk who didn't understand my question. As I've learned when visiting other countries, these situations force me to figure out how to communicate my needs. And, Y hola !, did I feel proud of myself when I navigated two trains and a bus on my day trip from Madrid to Segovia. Particularly when an older woman bus driver praised me for traveling sola.

I found the Harper Collins "Language Survival Guide, SPAIN" book in my library and took that along as my travel dictionary. Not only does it have word lookup, but also sections such as transportation phrases and ticket layouts. It was really useful, and I liked it better than other dictionaries I've used.

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