RENO – octubre 2022

The life of a non-spanish speaker in Spain.


My name is Reno, i just turned 26 and i come from the flemish part in Belgium.
Today i want to share a little bit of my stay here so far and tackle some positives and negatives that happened a long the way!

As the title might hint, i can not speak spanish. Not at all. Before coming here i had a 15 day streak of duolingo and that is it.

I was not anxious coming to spain and not speaking the language because i thought that because i mastered the english language i could speak to everybody!
And God, was i wrong. The people here in Terrassa, where I currently live with 3 other volunteers, have very little knowledge of english. It’s almost as if they really don’t care about the language at all. As soon as you speak to somebody over the age of 25 in english, they shut down and start panicking. I had to go to the gym 4 times in order to find a worker there who was willing to try in half english and half google translate spanish.

At first this sounds very negative, but it does force you to think more and to learn the language faster This way i’ve also met new people for example at the bakery who are really trying to help you and express you better in spanish.

It is surprising for me as well how many people here are open to just meet and teach each other a bit about the language. I’ve met a few locals who are willing to meet me more often to exchange our knowledge about the language. I teach them english and in return they teach me some spanish.

I work at La fact Fupar. An organisation that works with people with disabilities. I support them in leisure activities and sports. I play hockey, football, ping-pong, zumba, running… but also assist them with arts and crafts for example. My work – mentor is a very active middle aged women who is always super energetic and exited. Mood wise this is great, because she has this power to give some of that energy to other people and make them smile aswell. However this energy comes with a drawback. She spits words faster then my brain can possible comprehend. So every time she gives instructions i just zone out, look to another volunteer in my eyecorner who can speak the language and already give a hint that she can tell me straight after what i will need to do. It is a little annoying to not speak the language because there is so much more i want to ask and want to share with them, but for now its a small blockage.

I hope that the next few months i will be able to improve my spanish and hold some conversations. In the meantime, ill hold google translate close, but my new made friends here closer.

Until next time!

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