All of my friends and family have been asking me this question (see title) via text message, and I thought a blog post directly addressing this question, rather than trying to tackle it over and over on my mini touch screen phone, was both easier and would have less spelling mistakes. (My phone doesn’t have auto correct, for better or for worse…)
No longer feeling like a deer caught in the headlights when someone asks me something in Spanish, my understanding of the local language is coming along but slowly. I had an epiphany that aided my understanding of the spoken language when I realized that on top of most Latino cultures which drop all ‘s’ sounds from their words (in the middle and at the end), Panamanians actually drop the last syllable from most words! Some is guess work, some is asking for them to repeat more slowly, some is sign language, and some is Google translate, but my Spanish skills are slowly developing, and I don’t feel completely awkward. I do plan to head to some of the bigger Panamanian bookstores next weekend to explore some adolescent grammar books to help me along…you know…the really annoying ones we were forced to use in elementary school? Yeah…the Spanish equivalent of that…hopefully with some pictures 🙂
In terms of my living situation, after 18 years of sharing a room with my sister, 4 years of sharing my living space with fellow University students (in both residence and local apartment rentals), and finally cohabiting with my boyfriend for a year, living alone is definitely an adjustment. Exploring a strange city with a strange language, and being strongly advised not to go out after dark, puts me in a position of independence and state of personal awareness that I have to say, I have not before experienced. I realize that personal security is no laughing matter; especially after a coworker shares with me the fact that a friend of his was kidnapped by the security guards in her apartment and killed. Hyper-vigilance at all times; but enough sensibility to have the confidence to speak a strange language, interact with the locals, and explore new places around me. When in Rome, right?
One thing I’m definitely not missing from home however? The hair all over my clothes from my cat; I love her to death and I miss her, but I do not miss having to ‘dehair’ everything before I wear it. Which just goes to show you that most of all, it’s the little differences that you notice the most; that make the biggest difference. Oh ya, that, and the fact that I’m thousands of kilometers away from everything I know, I keep reminding myself. The world feels a lot smaller, but definitely more wonderful since I’ve been given a chance to explore a new part of it for a little while.