When I arrived I didn’t really understand what people were saying, but if I knew the context I imagined what they were trying to say to me. To learn a language in a course in Switzerland and to actually speak the language in the place where people speak it are two very different experiences. Especially due the fact that Mexicans speak really fast and that, they use very different words than the Spanish you learn in Europe (mostly because in Europe people learn Spanish as it is spoken in Spain) and they speak not as clearly as the teacher in a Spanish course.
The first people I started to talk to were the taxi drivers. However, these people speak very fast and not very clearly but still, it was a good start for speaking Spanish. Also, conversations with the taxi driver made the journey more interesting.
After a few days of listening to people talking with me I figured out that there are certain patterns and if you know these patterns then you` re able to have a basic conversation. These are certain words like: more or less, far, near, traffic etc. Also the verb forms of the me, first person singular, and third person plural are the most useful to know. Furthermore, if you are able to use one present, one past and one future tense (in Spanish there are many different tenses), you can speak to people with hardly any problems.
There are some words that only exist in Mexican Spanish. If you know these phrases and use them Mexicans are really impressed and they will enjoy talking with you.
There are a lot of non-verbal communication strategies to consider. Many of them are the same as in Switzerland. A very special non-verbal communication that only exists in Mexico is saying “yes” by bending the index finger up and down.
When I am in conversation and find myself confused with the language I just switch to English. Young people in Mexico City understand English (very slow spoken English) quite well, although they are not able to speak it. However, older people only understand Spanish and this is great for me to practice.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have that much time to sit down and learn Spanish grammar because the university was very time consuming. I did a Spanish course in the beginning of my stay in Mexico but with my full university schedule it was difficult for me to attend all the classes. In addition, I could not spend as much time learning new grammar because of my university workload. But the things I did learn I found very useful when I conversed with others. I learnt more Spanish speaking to people and writing messages on social media than in this course.
From what I have experiences so far, I think I can predict that learning Spanish will be very useful for my future adventures, especially for my planned travels in Latin America where most people speak only one language, Spanish. I have already learnt a lot of Spanish here and when I return to Switzerland, I plan to carry on studying Spanish. I hope I will be able to live in a Spanish speaking country again so that I will be able to use the Spanish skills I have acquired. Although in biology, and science in general, English is far more important to know, learning another language will always be an asset for any career path you chose. I am really happy that I took the initiative to learn Spanish and I am now able to understand and speak another language.