Learning a new language? Living abroad? You will make mistakes in your new language. Even if you are a walking, talking grammar book, your new flat mates might tease you about your accent, con cariño, of course. Or even if you have spent the last four years studying the language at the university level, you will have misunderstandings. The best part is, that after a few months of total emersion, you will hopefully be able to look back on those super embarrassing moments and laugh.
I am neither a walking, talking grammar book, nor did I spend four years studying Spanish at the university level. I moved to Spain with only intermediate knowledge of the language. Although my ability has improved dramatically over the past couple of months, there have been moments where I have not been able to articulately express what I am thinking or feeling. In fact, there have been many, many embarrassing instances that have been the result of my inferior level of Spanish.
One such miscommunication happened at work. I’m here teaching English at a public high school and one afternoon, two of the gentlemen in administrative positions at the school invited me for drinks. While one of them was in the restroom, I was making conversation with the other. Because I had been introduced to many people all at once, I was not entirely sure of his position at the school, but for whatever reason, I thought that he was the guy in charge of making sure I got paid. Not really having much to say to this man, I told him that I had an appointment to receive my temporary residence number and that I would bring him the number the following day, so that I wouldn’t have a problem getting paid. I couldn’t understand why he seemed so confused by this, until I later found out that his position at the school is actually head of the maintenance department. I am pretty sure that the number he though I was bringing him was my phone number, so that I could get paid. Long story short, I’m almost certain that he thought that I was soliciting sex. The scary part is that he seemed very interested. Months later, I still go through great lengths to avoid this man at work.
One thing that I have learned is sometimes it’s just better to skip the small talk, especially if you’re gut is telling you that they are a creep.