Tellus: (tel’us), n. 1. [Latin] earth, soil, and the land; a country; the world. 2. a collection of Willamette University student’s insights, stories, photos and thoughts from their experiences studying abroad.

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What the Hell am I doing here I don’t speak Spanish

I have never been more scared in my life than when my plane landed in Quito, Ecuador. I was thinking “What the hell am I doing here? I don’t speak Spanish well enough to get around in a country that speaks Spanish.” I soon learned that it is all about determination. Of course that first night with my host family was difficult. My conversational Spanish was terrible; my family later told me that they thought that I did not speak any Spanish. The reason for that was because I was so uncomfortable about using my language skills that I did not want to speak at all. I am not a shy person but I was so far out of my comfort zone that I could barely make myself talk.
After a few weeks I was able to let go of my insecurities about my Spanish. As soon as I was willing to take chances and make mistakes I started learning, I was determined that I was going to improve my Spanish. It is hard not to improve your foreign language skills especially when you are immersed in that language, but I was determined that I was going to be as close to being fluent in conversation as I could be in five months. I had my ups and downs with my language. Some days I was really frustrated by the fact that I was unable to express myself completely. Other times I felt great about how well I was speaking. I just took every opportunity to speak; I found that the times that I had the best conversations were late at night when we were going home in the taxis. I was always the last stop and the taxi drivers loved talking to young gringas. They always had their questions that they would ask me about myself, usually revolving around if I was single or married and if I liked to dance or not. To start out I thought it was weird and creepy when they would talk to me like that but toward the end I started just making up stories about who I was and my life history. I always made sure to tell them that I was married so they would not hit on me, but it was a great way to practice my vocabulary and also use my imagination.
Toward the end of the semester it got to the point that I could talk to almost anyone about most topics without worrying what I was going to say or how I was going to say it that I realized that I had pretty much accomplished my goal. I am not saying that I am fluent in Spanish but at this point I feel like if I was placed in and Spanish speaking country that I could get wherever I needed to go by asking for directions which to me is pretty cool.

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