|My lovely home in Oaxaca|
|Walking into town. This is the "tourist area."|
My PDP classmates and I were placed with separate homestay families in the same area of town. We spent eight weeks living in the city of Oaxaca and, while the town square was heavily populated with English-speaking employees and tourists, we lived further north in a "real" neighbourhood. After my first meal with my Mexican homestay family, I knew that I was in over my head! I also realized that I needed to become comfortable with incompetence, and accept that I would not master the language in eight weeks, something which was not easy for me.
|When I got into the shower one morning,|
this little guy was peering down at me.
I encountered several "cucarachas" and won.
At cena, a larger meal held around 3:00pm, I spoke Spanish with my homestay family and listened to their conversations. An hour of that completely exhausted me, even if I understood the conversation. It is difficult to explain how struggling to communicate can be physically exhausting, but it really is! I always excused myself for a "siesta" after that. In lieu of a nap, I usually listened to English music, read, wrote in my journal, or watched Law and Order on my bedroom television. I desperately needed to hear English. A break allowed me to recharge and continue conversations in the house or in the community. While I always enjoyed "study breaks" as a student, this was the first time that I really felt that I depended on them. I do not like allowing students to wander the halls but I really do understand why some need a quick break when learning a difficult concept. Sometimes it is avoidance; sometimes they simply need to recharge. Both reactions are natural and, when I notice a student seeking escape from the room or a task, it allows me to check in with him or her in order to break the task down or further explain a concept.
|I don't have one of these, but Trader Joe's|
carries some fantastic handmade corn tortillas!