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Her Story: My Boyfriend Doesn’t Speak English

When I landed in the Madrid Airport I had just missed my eleven o’clock bus to Salamanca by thirty minutes, I was wearing my make up and hair from being a bridesmaid at my cousin’s wedding two days prior, a celebration from which I had to leave early to catch my transatlantic flight. It doesn’t take two days to get to Europe you ask? Well it does when they’ve shut down JFK because of the blizzard and a plane slidding off the runway. But back to the bus situation, there was another one at three so I waited in the cold and played Flappy Bird (yes I have it and yes I’m considering selling my iPhone) until the bus arrived. I had already packed my luggage in the bus when I went to get on and the driver so kindly told me that since I did not have a ticket for the three o’clock I wouldn’t be able to actually board the bus. I look over at the five empty seats and tell him a few select things in Spanish, while waving my earlier ticket in the air like a mad woman. I get off the bus with tears starting to form in my eyes and decided this is going to be a horrible semester abroad and I haven’t even made it to my town yet. Hey, I get a little dramatic when I haven’t slept in 48 hours, but who wouldn’t?

After talking to my parents on the phone to make sure and secure me a ticket for the five o’clock bus via the interwebz, I felt ravenous. I went to the little cafeteria they had, bought myself a jamon sandwich and propped up my computer to watch me some Housewives. At that stage, I needed something mentally numbing. While I’m stuffing my face and laughing at Nene, I spotted this handsome guy in the cafeteria line that I could not take my eyes off. No, seriously, it was about to be an issue if he looked up because I was creepin’ on ten. I glued me eyes to my computer screen so not to be caught, but then he miraculously approached my table and motioned if he could sit down. I tried not to read too much into his materializing right in front of me because I happened to be sitting at the table with the last unoccupied chair. Still, I was doing mental back handsprings of joy. That is until he pulled out a magazine with a Ü in it.


(Nene from “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” sums up my feelings)

Seriously?! I speak three languages and neither have this funky little letter in it. I called it a metaphorical night and watched some more trashy television for two hours. As I’m getting up to leave he asks me in perfect Spanish if I knew where the bus to Salamanca was. Finally, something I could work with! We started talking and I found out he was from Zurich, Switzerland but his mom is Spaniard and he is studying in Salamanca in the same program as me to perfect his Spanish. When we approached the bus we checked our tickets– we had pre-assigned seats right next to each other. We talked the entire bus ride to Salamanca and really connected. Since then we’ve spent a bunch of time together and I feel über lucky I got to meet such an awesome person even if it sounds like it came straight from a paperback romance novel. But hey, when in Spain…

Fortunately, as far as the language barrier goes it’s not too bad since we both have hispanic parents. Although we mostly communicate in Spanish, sometimes we’ll switch it up and try another language. My personal favorite is English because instead of saying things like hypothetically he’ll say hippopotamus. Adorable. Although he speaks five languages his worst is English, so it’s awesome to help someone solidify a language. Speaking of trying to learn languages, he’s been attempting to teach me his native German. I thought I knew a little bit, but the person who was teaching me was only telling me bad phrases. Mushy mushy does not mean “how are you doing?” in German, trust me. So while some people advise hooking up a bunch and going a lil’ wild on their semester abroad, I find it personally more culturally beneficial to spend parts of my day having long conversations in Spanish and getting to know someone one-to-one. 

Even though I don’t believe in love at first sight, I would be remiss to say that fate is totally impossible. From meeting on the first day in the airport, to the assigned bus seats together, I feel like I was suppose to meet him for a reason. And what about what happens after the semester is over? I think I’ll take it day by day.

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pictures: 1,2

University of Notre Dame; Class of 2014
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