In between all the adventures I’m having, living life in almost total immersion is a very difficult existence. I have gained an enormous amount of compassion for my immigrant students in the states.  Lacking confidence in the local language, makes everyday so hard.

Lo Siento

I’m sorry to the lady in the bakery.
I don’t know how to ask properly for the cake, the cost, the type of package I need.
I just spent 5 minutes outside of your shop practicing my words, but when I stand before you, the vocabulary doesn’t come.  I mess up the tenses, I scramble the direct objects incoherently, and I leave not knowing the answers to my questions. 
My lip starts to quiver.
Not only because I feel stupid, but because you will never know who I am. 
I am smart, confident, a natural leader, funny and fun.  In English.
In Spanish, I am not worth your patience.
All day, I list vocabulary words to memorize.  I read every word I see, and try to imprint it into my mind. I try to avoid English conversations, instead I try to write and think in Spanish.
I’m sorry to the kindly old man on the street.  After my initial greeting, you launched into a stream of small talk and questions about my well being.  I wanted so badly to stand and chat, but I couldn’t separate your string of words.  I haven’t learned how to have a conversation.  So instead, I turned with tears burning in my eyes and ran away. 
You will never know that I loved your gesture and I crave your kindness. 
You will never know that I’m interesting and brave.  In English.
In Spanish, I’m a rude American, who won’t even take the time to enjoy a friendly conversation.
I study on the bus. I study during lunch.  I eat dinner quickly to study more.  My head hurts from concentrating so hard on listening to podcasts, songs on the radio, and snippets of Spanish conversations.
I’m sorry to the smiling lady on the bus in the seat next to mine.  It was obvious you wanted to talk.  I spent the bus ride silently practicing phrases that I could say, but since I don’t know how to ask questions, and I was terrified that I wouldn’t understand your answers, I sat silently and stared out the window. 
You will never know that I am desperately interested in your culture and your story.  
And you will never know that I’m kind, generous, and a really good friend.  In English.
In Spanish, I’m just a privileged Gringa, too worried about her private space.
I’m sorry.  I’m trying so hard to understand and integrate.  For the fiftieth time today, I’ll ask you again, “mas despacio, por favor”.  But it’s no use.  Even if you speak slowly, I only get 10% of what you say. 
In English I am somebody.  I am worth something.
In Spanish, “Estoy nada”.
I dry my eyes.  I open my books.  I have to study more.
I don’t know how to speak Spanish.