I’ve been in Costa Rica for a little over a month now and have been enjoying it! I finally know my way around the city, made some great friends, and have seen some great places. The main reason I came to Costa Rica is the same for most people, to be immersed in the culture. I am a shy person and I know that I need to be in an environment where I am forced to speak Spanish in order to become fluent. Now that I’m here I’m using the language all the time. Whether it’s at home talking with my tico family, reading signs on the street, or in class, Spanish is everywhere.
But there are times when I get frustrated. I’ll have an interesting conversation with my tico family and understand everything that is going on but cannot fully express myself or give my opinion. Other times when I´m out in the city, if I respond to slow to a question the person may ask me again in English even though I understood them perfectly the first time. Even though these things frustrate me they also make me want to learn the language even more. I want to be able to fully express myself without thinking should I use preterit or imperfect or is this when I use subjunctive. I realize the only way for this to happen is just for me to open up my mouth and speak. It doesn’t matter if it comes out wrong at least I tried. The only way you get better is from mistakes. I know that sometimes I compare my progress or level of Spanish to others but we are all different. It comes easy for some people and others need to use a lot of flash cards.
A couple of my friends have come up with a rule called “Solo Español”. This is to force us to talk in Spanish even when we are just hanging out. And you know what, after a few minutes it’s not that hard. I still struggle a lot but now I’m focusing more on using what I know and not trying to translate everything in my head. I’ll be in Costa Rica for a year so I know I’ll be fluent before I leave, I just have to put the work in and continue to get out of my comfort zone.