Sometimes, having two languages going on in your head is a struggle. You do things like spell Geneva as Gineva, because in Spanish it’s Ginebra. Or you try to use the word ‘neglection’ in a sentence, which is what I was going to start this blog post with until I read it and realized that that is not actually a word in English. But screw it, playing with words and language is fun . . . therefore, I view the neglection of this blog in a few ways.
On the one hand, if I’m not consistently posting good material, ain’t nobody gonna show up to read and I’ll never develop a clear vision for what this blog could be. But on the other hand, I’ve been so busy living LIFE and quite happy, so I haven’t needed this blog as much to feel like I’m doing things. To feel like I need that outlet, to show you all the COOL AWESOME WOW ABROAD whatever things and express some of the too-many-thoughts that like to swirl around and procreate in my head. I feel a pressure sometimes to place my words on paper, to materialize them and show the world (myself) that these thoughts are valid. And that I can write.
Words. In Spain, as many of you probably know, there are seventeen autonomous communities and a large variety of languages spoken. Traveling around, you’ll hear + see a lot more than just Castilian Spanish. In Switzerland, I discovered that language is also incredibly diverse–in Geneva, most people speak French, but in Interlaken they speak Swiss German. They understand German, but Germans can’t understand Swiss German. A small part of Switzerland speaks Italian, and many people speak English.
When Megan and I first got out of the airport, we discovered that there was in fact a significant language barrier–but we got lucky, and had a Spanish cabdriver so we actually filled the cab with conversation during the drive to our hostel. Traveling around Switzerland for just the weekend whetted my appetite for languages–at times, I could actually pick out individual words and understand what people were saying in French although I’ve never learned the language. It was such an odd experience to not know if I was going to be able to communicate with people–in Spain, I take pride in the fact that my Spanish is pretty damn good and that I can converse with anyone. In Switzerland, I found myself sometimes trying to speak in Spanish because I was so accustomed to reverting to that when people don’t understand my English. It was an experience in exercising my chutzpah that’s been steadily growing stronger these past few weeks. In one bar, after watching a group of Swiss cuties holding their ears for ten minutes, I leaned over and tapped one on the shoulder. ‘Do you speak English?’ was how I had to start the conversation, but luckily nearly every person at the table did. They were playing a drinking game, by the way, and invited us to join their table. Success. I just have to decide what language to learn after Spanish . . . I’d prefer Italian, but I feel that French might be more useful.
Friday, we went to Interlaken. This town is incredibly beautiful and idyllic, taken straight from a Swiss postcard and plopped between two lakes with water so blue it looks artificial. We went paragliding and I promptly decided that flying over lakes and mountains and trees was all I wanted to do for the rest of my life. We’ll see, I suppose 😉
Saturday, we rented bikes in Geneva (behind the train station you can get them for 12 francs for the entire day!) and spent the entire day exploring the city. Oh, and we pierced our ears at a Claire’s. I made fun of us, don’t worry. We did get cheese fondue, and disappointingly I wasn’t overly impressed. Switzerland is making BANK on that dish, which bears note to mention how incredibly expensive everything there is. Be prepared to be broke. Which is what I’ll be when I come home from Spain, but moving on . . .
Sunday we tried to go hiking, and took a city bus from Geneva (free with the travel card you get from your hotel/hostel) twenty five minutes INTO FRANCE. We took public transportation into France, people! It turned out to be too windy to take the Gondola up, so we ended up heading back into Geneva earlier than expected. Back in our hostel, we met a group of guys from Madrid. Speaking to them cemented how much I love Spain and the Spanish language, because in those conversations with people I feel like I simply want to speak Spanish for the rest of my life. I haven’t achieved fluency yet, but I’m hoping it isn’t far off. Granted, that will require more immersion, so I’ve begun looking at different opportunities for my summer.
A few random tidbits to finish this one off:
When I think about leaving Spain, I want to start crying. So I don’t think about it too much.
I saw Jennifer Lawrence and her co-stars at the Catching Fire premier in Madrid. Yep, I saw JLAW IN PERSON. No need to be jealous, we’re just besties now. And I guess Liam Hemsworth is pretty cute, too.
I leave for Budapest this evening, and I’ll try to update sooner than I have been!