The Best Compliment I Received Abroad

Adjusting to Life in a Different Language

I was enjoying breakfast and some post-night gossip with my roommate at my favorite cafe one weekend when it happened. We were chatting it up, laughing, and I might have still been a little drunk. This is all in English of course, as my roommate doesn’t speak very good Spanish. So here we are, thinking we were in our own little world of conversation until an older gentleman walks by. He taps me on the shoulder, and says in a very sincere voice, “your English is very good.” I couldn’t help but blush. Here I am the hungover American girl in this local bar in Barcelona speaking fluent English and I am mistaken by a local, for being a local.

To this day, I still cannot believe it. I went from being told I am so obviously American to being mistaken as a Spaniard. It’s always nice to feel like you are not only adapting to your surroundings, but that you could indeed fit in as a local one day. From day one I felt very at home in Barcelona, but this moment proved to me that it really is home. I transformed from a tourist to a local in a place where I was constantly being forced to change. And personally, i think all these changes have been for the better.

It’s hard to go to a different country and not feel like you are being judged by the people who live there. But after that, I stopped worrying so much about the judgmental looks I would get from people passing me by. I was able to enjoy myself and fully opened myself up to the culture.

Overall, I felt like the universe was speaking to me in that moment in a deeper way than just those words. This whole time I was thinking I was doing something wrong, when in reality, I was doing alright. I didn’t realize it at the time, but for some reason I really needed some type of validation from this city.

Looking back, while I realize how nice this experience was I also realize how unnecessary it was. My advice to you: remember when your somewhere new that it’s ok to be yourself as long as you keep an open mind to new things and allow yourself to adapt freely to your new surroundings. Don’t let the judgement of others keep you from exploring and experiencing a new place in your own personal way. Let your journey be your own, not someone else’s.


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