It’s January. janeiro. enero. Whatever language you speak, it’s the first month of a new year. While 2012 wasn’t a huge blogging year for me, it marked the start of something very important–ACTUALLY creating a blog. For years, and especially after moving abroad to Spain, I’d contemplated starting a blog, but for various reasons, I never did. Each year I had a different excuse, and now I am done with them. I want 2013 to be a year more focused on this blog, without excuses, and right now I will detail my reasons for not blogging, and hopefully encourage you to start or continue blogging, in 2013!
My time studying in Alcalá de Henares, Spain was amazing, and there were so many times that I wanted to write about my adventures and share my pictures with the world, but I didn’t. I put off those tasks in order to focus on my studies and grad school papers—especially during the second year with a much heavier course load. I’m a student at heart, and I certainly loved my years in grad school, but I was absolutely overwhelmed at times with writing 20-30 page Spanish papers, dissecting scholarly articles, and reading at least two Spanish language novels per week. Perhaps I could have blogged, but in my free time, the last thing I wanted to do was sit behind a computer screen after already logging in hours typing every week. Lame nerd excuse? Maybe…but going on almost three years post graduation, I can’t use it anymore!!
After graduating and relocating to the center of Madrid to teach English in a Spanish public school, I had time for so many more activities! Gone were the hours spent slaving away on literary and cultural analyses of Spanish language history and works—I was free! In my mind I wasn’t technically a student, but out of my various reasons for living in Madrid, one of the major ones was becoming a better Spanish speaker. Sure, I knew the language, heck, I even had a M.A. in it, but I wasn’t satisfied. The Spanish language and culture are some of my greatest passions, and I wanted to be truly immersed in them. I wanted to escape English. Now maybe that sounds a little extreme, and it is pretty impossible to accomplish that feat in today’s world with American culture everywhere, especially in a cosmopolitan city like Madrid. Besides, some of my very best friends that I met in Madrid are American, and while we tried at times to speak Spanish together, inevitably we always ended up speaking in English. Aside from that, my job was teaching English! There was no feasible way to truly avoid English use. I’ve resolved that if you want to truly escape English and be totally immersed in Spanish or any language, you have to go to a remote village, far away from any major city. Anyways, in order to attempt to achieve my “No English” goal, an English blog was out of the question. Besides, the last thing I wanted to do while living in the heart of Madrid was sit inside typing. Whenever I was home alone or bored, I’d immediately call a friend to go out and walk around Retiro Park, or have a drink in La Latina…or do any of the endless activities in Madrid. If no one was available, I’d grab my purse and head out to lose myself in my favorite city, wandering…I was in Madrid. I HAD TO LIVE IT. To sum it up, I didn’t blog, but I had one of the best years of my life, I just unfortunately didn’t share it through writing.
As a current resident of Brazil, learning Portuguese and exploring this new and exciting country are very important to me. I am no longer a grad school student, and I’ve given up on my “No English” policy. Learning Portuguese is a goal of mine, and while I’ve made huge strides in language proficiency, I haven’t become obsessed with avoiding English to do it (I’ll go more into that another time). So what kept me from blogging consistently last year? Time. Teaching various Spanish level classes at an international school during the day, and giving private English classes at night, while spending hours commuting daily in the unbelievable traffic, wipe me out. By the time I arrive home at 9:00 pm, I just want to eat dinner, maybe exercise, watch TV, and go to bed. I also run into the same problem that I had in Spain, where I want to constantly be engaged in the new country and culture. Whenever I have free time on my hands, I long to explore the never-ending neighborhoods of Sao Paulo! Regardless, in order to blog, I need to manage my time and schedule writing periods. While time was my excuse in 2012, I will not let it be in 2013.
So here’s to my New Year’s Resolution: No excuses—it’s time to blog and share about my travels and experiences learning foreign languages!