“Don’t avoid speaking to people just because you don’t speak the language well! Learning the language is one of the things that will improve your exchange the most. And of course, as you’ll soon figure out, a few drinks will make you basically bilingual!”
I've been studying Spanish for about seven years now. Nearly everyday people tell me, "Sure, you're basically fluent!" I love it so much, but by no means what so ever am I fluent, but I'm getting there, and I will get there.
At first I was terrified to open my mouth for fear that I would make so many mistakes. After all, the last thing you want to do in front of native speakers is embarrass yourself.
It initially took me about ten minutes to piece together a sentence in my head and then another ten minutes to pluck up the courage to actually spit it out.
As the days pass, I find myself learning more and more each day. Things that I would never have taken note of at home, stand out to me; shop signs, road signs, adverts on bus stops, leaflets in restaurants.
You pick up vocabulary everywhere. I have now found myself actually using the words that I have learned and incorporating them into my everyday language. Even if you learn one word a day, it is one word more than you knew yesterday.
The key is not to be afraid to try. Speak out and make mistakes. Say what you want to say, even if you meant to use the future tense and you use the past.
More than likely people will still understand what you're trying to say, and will either encouragingly continue the conversation, or else they will help you correct the mistake and then move on.
Either way, you're practicing and re-enforcing your language skills. A huge part of learning a language is having confidence in your abilities and not being afraid to make mistakes.
I once asked a woman in a shopping centre where I could find earphones, and she pointed me in the right direction. After I arrived at the destination she guided me towards, I was faced with a shop stand advertising free hearing tests for over 65s'. I just laughed and shrugged it off. At least now I know how to ask for hearing aids in the future.
The moral of the story is that if you don't mess up sometimes in life, you'll never learn.
Before moving to Spain I was terrified. Terrified I wouldn't make friends, of being homesick, that I wouldn't like the culture or the food, that it wouldn't be for me, but I couldn't have been more wrong.
Don't get me wrong, I miss my friends and family and not being around to spend time with them, but now that I am here, I couldn't imagine not living here.
When a person hears you're Irish, you may sometimes get sick of the stereotypical, "Oh, you're Irish?", "Do you drink Guinness?" and "Have you ever seen a Leprechaun?" questions.
I am 100% proud to be Irish, as my heritage is something I hold dear to my heart, but it's nice to have a taster of how the other half live and to be able to appreciate another culture.
A lot of young people do not know what they want to do with their lives, what they want to be or where they want to go.
Many people pursue degree after degree, studying and aiming towards what makes them money, rather than what makes them happy. If you do not yet know what you want to do in life, I cannot recommend anything better than to travel.
Learn a language, meet new people, do things you never would have done before. Confront things that frighten you. It will open up new doors for you and give you a fresh perspective and outlook on life.
Sometimes its good to escape the ordinary, monotonous routine of your daily life. A little change is good for everyone, it doesn't always have to be something as big as moving your life to another country.
Take a local language class, pick up a new hobby, go to that art class or guitar lesson you saw the ad for online. Little steps are as good as the rest.