But I Speak Spanish…

Don’t let my chipper demeanor in the rest of my posts fool you; I have certainly encountered a few problems since arriving in Spain. While none of my problems have been anything major, I don’t want to make it seem like everything has been 100% rainbows and unicorns.

Language Barrier

When I first arrived in Madrid after flying for almost 24 hours straight and only having slept about 4 hours in the last two days, I was TIRED. I was trying to talk to my Airbnb host in Spanish and was so unintelligible she switched to English and we struggled to understand one another because of a slight language barrier coupled with my exhaustion. The next day, after sleeping, my Spanish was a little better but my language skills did not benefit from the three month break I took after graduation. I am still trying to ease my way back into speaking as fluently as I did in May.

The Spanish accent and vocabulary is also throwing me for a loop a little. At first I was saying grathias to fit in before realizing that that seemed inauthentic. There’s no reason why the dialect of Spanish that I learned shouldn’t work just fine, and so I’ve since switched back to pronouncing things the way in which I have learned– minus the Spanish ‘th.’ I am still trying to learn to use vosotros, which is replaced by ustedes in nearly every other Spanish-speaking country. I never really learned all the conjugations though! Every time I tell myself I’m going to buckle down and start using it, I totally forget and end up using ustedes. With time, I think I’ll start to master this though!

Another problem I’ve encountered is once people hear me speaking in Spanish, they respond in English and will continue to do so even if I answer in Spanish. This is so frustrating because I’m trying to improve my Spanish! I think partially they may see the opportunity to practice English and want to do so…or at least I’m hoping that’s what it is! I don’t pronounce words like a Spaniard, but I’m hoping people aren’t interpreting my accent as me not knowing the language!


I got yelled at on the Metro the other day! I was yawning and didn’t cover my mouth all the way because that’s not something I even think about doing. A middle-aged woman then made eye contact and sternly told me “cover your mouth out of respect to the rest of us.” Definitely a different cultural norm to keep in mind! I am now extra-vigilant when yawning because I don’t want to upset anybody else.


I am doing SO MUCH walking here. As a result, my feet have been covered in blisters and BandAids since my arrival. The shoes I brought were ones I thought were comfy, but comfy for two miles a day is way different than comfy for seven. I don’t mind walking as a form of transportation, but my feet are quite unhappy. I bought a pair of nice flats for work that will hopefully work out, but my arches, heels and ankles are quite unhappy with the sandals I’ve been wearing. I resorted to tennis shoes for the last few days just to quell some of the pain! I’m currently on the hunt for some good shoes that don’t look like they belong to someone four times my age. I may have to go the Nike route and embrace the athleisure look. The name Nicole comes from the goddess Nike, so I feel like I should get some kind of discount. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.

Metro Card

I read online that I could request my metro card online or at a tobacco shop (strange, I know) and I would receive it in the mail in 7-20 days. I could also make an appointment and go get one at one of the major metro stations. Wanting to not make an appointment or go in person (I love online shopping, ok?) I ordered mine online. However, I shortly found out from my friend who went to the tobacco shop (Calle de Fuencarral, 80)  that she got hers the same day! She’s only paying the monthly 20 euros for unlimited rides while I’m stuck here buying ten ride tickets at a time! While not awesome, I’m telling myself that if this is the most expensive lesson I have to learn, it’s not really that high of a price to pay. However, school starts soon and I have to take the commuter train, which is a more expensive ticket.

Shopping on Sundays

Thankfully this is a mistake I almost made. My friend told me on Saturday that I should go grocery shopping on the way home as most everything will be closed on Sunday. Lo and behold, Sunday morning all the grocery stores in my neighborhood were closed, as were many other places around town. My poor friend learned this the hard way: she moved into her apartment on a Sunday and couldn’t go get anything!




  1. Don’t be discouraged! I speak fluent Spanish, like grew up speaking it, and when I was in Spain a lot of people would still speak English to us as soon as they heard us speak English. And one person actually asked us if he could practice! So don’t be offended, and you want to practice just insist on the Spanish!


  2. I thought Castillian Spanish used the th sound but not all of Spain did. Enjoyed hearing about your adventures. Sorry your feet are paying the price. You will adapt, I promise. Have mucho, much fun. Love you,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s