Consider traveling alone
If you are inclined to do so and are extra brave, I recommend traveling alone at least once in your life. It seems wild for many people to go on their own and experience something so vulnerable, but let me tell you why it could be worth it.
Traveling alone develops your confidence, knowing, and trust in yourself, and your ability to say no to others demands while respecting your own time, needs, and goals. This is especially great for young people and retired people, before and after raising a family. However, anyone can do it! How often do you not have a job? How often do you not have anyone to respond to? How often do you have absolutely no responsibilities for days or weeks at a time? How about NEVER as the answer?! Even average vacations involve compromise and thoughts of your family and friends you're traveling with.
Allowing myself to experience the freedom of traveling alone to Argentina for six months in my early twenties gave me a foundation for the rest of my life, proved to me my ability to conquer any challenge, and gave me the confidence to choose for myself regardless of what others thought or needed of me.
It’s true that you stand the risk of being bored, anxious, or even possibly in danger travelling alone, but you also stand the risk of never getting to know yourself, what you’re capable of, and what you truly desire by not traveling solo.
If you’re bored you will find ways to explore and step out of your comfort zone by talking to new people. People you might not approach with the safety net of your friends clinging. It’s amazing the amount of wonderful interactions I’ve had in my travels for the very reason I was alone and needing a friend in the moment. It helped me realize how generous and eager people are to connect, especially when you’re alone.
If you’re anxious, that too can be solved by practicing enjoying your own company. What do you want to do that the needs of others may have always pulled you away from? Growing a sense of peace in yourself is a lifetime practice that can be jump started in a solo trip. Feeling anxiety and learning to soothe yourself while finding new capabilities in problem solving will give you a sense of confidence that most people don’t have.
If danger scares you, consider the fact that you could die any day and that life is inherently risky. Challenging our notions of fear in a healthy way helps us grow and enjoy life more fully. Try finding and listening to many different contrasting views of travel to help prepare you for the trip that's right for you and find your middle way.
The time I traveled by myself was one of the most impactful things I've ever done. It allowed me to live for a bit outside of anyone's needs or wants of me, whether that be family, friends or bosses. I had a chance to drink wine on a Tuesday morning, or go on a long hike by myself, or just sleep in, or stay out late meeting fellow travelers and having deep conversations. At any moment I got to choose for myself what I felt like doing and for some reason that is a freedom rarely granted to any of us. I got used to thinking of myself first and thus better developing a sense of self compassion and self love.
At least once in your life experience solo travel, following exactly what you want day by day, moment by moment. If you can only do it for a week, trust me it will be worth it. If you can do it longer, like a month, or 6 months, you will have a life-changing journey that will help set your true north and internal compass for the rest of your life.
A continued grievance of mine with standard school systems is that we take the fun out of everything in hopes to cram more into student's brains. Many adults later reflect that they took four years of Spanish, but don't remember a thing... I know there is a correlation there!
We need fun to learn and to learn well. Fun and learning are not opposites. They must go hand-in-hand if you want to learn quickly or efficiently at all.
The times I have learned easiest are the times when I have been actively engaged through curiosity, made a game out of something, and been around people I enjoyed learning with!
Use these as compasses for how you learn best. If you find yourself trying something new and getting stuck, ask yourself:
Am I making this too hard on myself?
Are my goals reasonable?
Am I trying a slow yet steady approach?
Am I learning through fun?
How can I make this more enjoyable for myself?
Who would help me be accountable that I enjoy being around?
My goal as a Spanish teacher is to provide accountability, constancy, and fun! If I am not engaging someone every session we have, then I know I'm not meeting my requirements as a teacher.
We know through the studies of comprehensible input, that if you're not engaged and enjoying what you're learning while you're speaking and reading and writing in Spanish, then you will not remember it as well as if you were engaged in the content.
That's called fun! It's fun when you enjoy what you're talking about. It's fun when you enjoy talking to who you're talking to. So fun is our number one goal and through actively accounting for fun, we learn Spanish in the most efficient way possible!
Have a wonderful day and remember to put some fun into everything your learning right now.
*Photo of Spanish client and I laughing, per usual! Photo by @pono_media
Explaining Me gusta
Me gusta is an interesting thing to learn in Spanish and quite difficult at first. One of the frustrating things about Spanish is that the sentence structure is often the opposite direction than ours!
For Example: Me gusta café, means I like coffee.
However "me gusta" doesn’t mean “I like” in the way you think of it. Literally it means “IT is pleasing to me!”
SO…. Me Gusta Café.
REALLY MEANS... To me, it is pleasing, Coffee.
Strange, I know. However, a handful of verbs follow this pattern. This can be confusing for the novice learning to conjugate a simple thing like “I like”… instead of the normal add an -o to make it for ME, you have to think backwards.
Let’s try another! How about I don’t care! In Spanish you would say it’s not important to me. So, start with your TO ME=ME(pronounced MAY). Then add the verb, to be important=importar. Then conjugate it to: IT is important. =importa.
Then you should get: NO ME IMPORTA. = I don’t care, or it’s not important to me!
There are a handful of verbs that follow this pattern:
Importar=to be important, gustar=to be pleasing, molestar=to bother, and encantar=to be enchanted/to love something are the main verbs used this way .
I promise this backwards thinking will get easier, but learning the way the language works is the part that does make it easier! So keep trying and keep moving forward! With time, like anything, it becomes natural. ¡Que tengan un buen día!
Brittany is a bilingual Spanish teacher who has lived in Spain and Argentina. Through this blog, she hopes to relate her travels, insights, and Spanish speaking journey!