Fitting in, sticking out, and getting around.
Going out has changed considerably in the short time that I have been here. I remember how timid I was initially when I went into a bar or restaurant, not knowing what or how to order. It wasn’t that I lacked the language skills, and I could always understand everything, it’s just that things are quite different here than in Mexico or even other parts of Spain with which I was familiar.
It isn’t as if I have conquered all of the barriers, both linguistic and cultural, that were before me, but I do feel a lot more comfortable in most situations having to do with dining and drinking.
Valencianos have different habits than Madrileños or Sevillanos. For one thing, people here drink mostly beer. You either order a caña, which is a small glass of tap beer, or a tercio, which is a bottle of beer (called a tercio because it is a third of a liter). People here do drink wine but it is not as common as it is in other parts of Spain. I don’t know why this is because they produce pretty good wine in this region.
I have also adopted the Spanish pronunciation model in which certain syllables take on a lisp. In Spain plaza is pronounced as platha and dice is pronounced dithey. In Latin American Spanish they have dropped this syllable and use only the S sound. This was the way I learned to speak the language but since I am here I have switched. It can be difficult at times, especially if you don’t know how a word is spelled. The Spanish pronunciation is at once more elegant in my opinion and much less ambiguous than Latin American Spanish.
I have noticed that many immigrants have difficulty with the lisping Spanish pronunciation so they stick to the Latin way. It must be all but impossible for a Chinese person to make that strange sound. It is getting a lot easier for me to pick up on different accents in Spanish and now a lot of Latin Americans sound quite odd to me although it isn’t like anyone in my semi-literate stage of learning this language can be some sort of accent snob. Other than the slight difference in accent, Castilian Spanish is not much different from Latin American Spanish. A different word here, a different verb there, but it isn’t like they are really different.
My speaking ability still has a long way to go, and that is putting it as politely as I can, but I’m fairly happy with my comprehension level after two month. I went to see a documentary on the ancient history of Mexico the other night and I understood everything being said. I watched about an hour of the movie S.W.A.T. in Spanish last night until it got so unbelievably retarded that I had to turn it off. How could any American sit through that dog in English? I’ll admit that I am a culture snob, but a this point I have to suffer through some pretty low-rent shit in order to learn the language.