By Meaghan Wray (ArtSci ‘ 14)
Living with any family, at times, proves difficult.
When I was a teenager, I was convinced my parents didn’t understand me. Now, at 21-years-old with four years of experiencing living away from home, I’m back in a family environment. When I was younger, I felt that my parents didn’t understand me metaphorically. Now I’m faced with a different reality — my Ecuadorian family have trouble understanding me verbally.
Since I arrived in Ecuador two months ago, our language barrier has proven to be an issue. Last week, I complimented the mother I am staying with on her hair, describing it as “beautiful”; however I confused hair, “pelo” with chicken, “pollo”. My compliment wasn’t received the way I had intended. I later found out that “pelo” usually refers to fur-either way I would have felt like a fool.
In another incident, she was pulling into a parking spot and on the verge of collision. I didn’t know how to tell her to watch out, so all I could do was wave my hands and make loud noises that signalled some form of danger.
These examples are all on one level or another funny learning experiences. In most cases, our language barrier has provided entertainment for my host family and good Spanish practice for me. We’ve become accustomed to watching the morning news together, talking about the current presidency and discussing the results of an Ecuadorean version of American Idol. So far, I’ve managed to escape home sickness, but that recently proved differently.
It was Canadian Thanksgiving last week. I was reminded of the scent of a roasting turkey, the sight of changing leaves and the feel of an autumn breeze. Despite having a big dinner days prior, the Canadian Thanksgiving traditions were missing.
My host mom and host brother took turns asking me if I was upset about being so far away from home on a holiday centered around family. This unintentionally rubbed salt into my wound. I smiled and said no, because to say yes would require a tiring explanation in Spanish of my oversimplified emotions.
Attempting to overcome the language barrier is one of the many talents I’ve acquired while here so far. When Thanksgiving day hit, I realized it was something I was in fact thankful for.
Here are a few photos from the past few weeks
Meaghan will be blogging again for QJBlogs on Oct. 29th.
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