Musings Abroad-My Life in Spain: Translating for the First Time

Photo Credit: Anna Groeling

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I woke up. My head was spinning not from lack of sleep, but from excitement and anticipation. This day would be a bit different from other days. My family had arrived in Spain for the week and they were going to meet my Spanish host mom, who I’ve been living with during my time in Spain. Only problem? My parents don’t speak Spanish and my host mom doesn’t speak English. I would have to translate the entire night.

Later, as my parents and I waited in the elevator, I felt more excitement than nerves. My parents were about to see a different aspect of my life. My host mom is a very compassionate woman and as she tells me, very Spanish. I was still in disbelief that my parents were going to meet my host mom as we stepped off the small elevator and through the door of my Spanish apartment.

Everyone was so happy to meet each other that I didn’t need to translate anything. My host mom greeted my parents with open arms as well as the customary “dos besos” (a kiss on either cheek). That night, I was able to see how I had changed and progressed since I arrived here. The situation forced me to use my knowledge of Spanish to the best of my ability as I had to both listen, comprehend and speak Spanish at a more rapid pace while also translating it to English for my parents.

The task would have been overwhelming if I had attempted it before my studies in Spain. Talking with my host mom and parents felt natural, though a bit strange. It was the first time I had talked in Spanish in front of my family. I was introducing new aspects of my life to them that hadn’t existed before: The language, the apartment, my host family and even the culture. When my parents mentioned eating dinner in the States around 6 p.m. that seemed very early to me, although that’s the time-schedule I’ve been used to my whole life.

If I could be standing on a bridge between the two cultures, that’s where I would be. My attitude about culture has changed a lot for the short time I’ve been in Spain. However, instead of feeling incredibly knowledgeable and educated, it made me realize how much there still is to learn. Not just about Spain, but about other countries and cultures as well. I’ve only just started to scratch the surface of culture.

Despite the language barrier, my parents and host mom just “clicked”. If anything, there were more similarities than differences during our time together. Much of our conversation was spent laughing as we talked about family, our own experiences and Granada. Any worries I had about translating were forgotten. After the apartment tour, we went out for tapas where the night continued to be an unforgettable experience. It will be a memory that I’ll always cherish.


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