Kaixo! It has been three days since I arrived in Lazkao. Three days of total immersion in Euskera. When I first arrived on Monday, I didn´t know what to expect, I was nervous and intimidated. Even though I had already completed four semesters of study at the university I was still scared.
When we arrived at Maizpide, the people here were very welcoming and helpful, students and teachers alike. Cody, Megan (another student that´s with us from Boise), and I were instantly welcomed into the classroom.
At first, the content was very difficult. I felt overwhelmed by all of the Euskera. I hadn´t quite prepared myself for being completely submerged in another language, and wasn´t ready for the change. By the end of the day, it felt like my brain was going to explode. Not only do we have class all day, Euskera is spoken at all of the meals we eat together. When Megan and I returned to our room for the night, all I wanted to do was speak English!
Today was day three, and there is already a huge improvement in my Euskera. Not only is it easier for me to understand other people, I feel more comfortable talking. Euskera is a very hard language to understand, especially coming from an English background, but as the teachers here keep telling me, “pixkanaka-pixkanaka” (little by little), I will understand.
It is easy to get frustrated. This morning I was so upset at my limited understanding that I wanted to cry. But, my getting emotional only made matters worse. When I stopped, took a deep breath and relaxed, the words seemed to flow from my mouth. (I have noticed that when I get upset or nervous it is very hard for me to communicate. It´s almost as if I forget everything I know). I know that this language is not an easy one to learn, and once you know that and accept it, it makes learning much easier. You can´t let your fear of embarrassment hold you back. You´ve got to just put yourself out there and speak if you want to improve. After three days here, I can say that the best thing to do is to lasai (relax) and just listen. It is much easier to learn when I feel calm.
Though it´s only been three days, I feel like I know so much more than I did when I came. This is a wonderful environment for learning, and being completely submerged in the language is very helpful.
Each day, we are given homework. (Which I am about to go do). We have three teachers, and throughout the day we focus on a particular subject. We continue to practice with each teacher doing different exercises to reinforce what we are learning. In class, we read, write, listen, and speak in Euskera. We also work in groups. One detriment is that I don´t speak Spanish. Most, if not all of the students here do, and every explanation is given in Spanish. This makes it very difficult for me to understand, but it is also good, because Euskera is all I can rely on. This forces me to use my knowlege of Euskera to express my thoughts and questions–and it forces the other people in our class to explain in Euskera. Sometimes we get really creative, drawing pictures, making sounds…sometimes I feel like we´re playing charades.
I am learning a lot, and I am very excited to take full advantage of this opportunity. It´s not every day I get to be surrounded by Basque speakers everywhere I go.
Oso pozik nago, Maizpide nagoelako! Maizpide eskola onena dela, uste dut. Irakasleak eta ikasleak oso jatorrak dira.
Asko praktikatu behar dut ikaskideekin. Exterako lana asko badaukat, horregatik, ikasiko dut.