A few weeks ago, I said goodbye to a great friend who left OU and returned to Mexico to begin his career. We had met six weeks before his departure, and during that time, my blissful naivety swept me up in the idea that I would have him forever, waiting for me when I wanted to practice Spanish, and I did want to practice a lot. My meeting him was and still is one of the most exciting and fulfilling aspects of my time at OU, simply because of the uniqueness of our friendship. This all began one afternoon after I’d slung my backpack onto my bed and pulled out my laptop to finish calculus homework (math is disgusting). I also needed to update the Spanish Club Facebook page, and because I am the web developer for Spanish Club, I have access to our social media and try to keep all of our platforms up to date and informative for meetings and events. That afternoon in particular, we had received a message from someone named Carlos, an international student who was looking for a language partner with whom to practice both English and Spanish.
I could hardly respond fast enough.
To say that I was elated or absolutely ecstatic would be a ridiculous understatement. I was… well, I don’t know how to explain how absolutely overjoyed I was. Since that moment, I’d had difficulty in finding a language partner who was Hispanic, and it seemed like many native Spanish speakers at OU already spoke English fluently, making my knowledge of English useless to them if we WERE to begin practicing, so if I’m being honest, I think that when I read his message, I probably jumped out of my chair, did an ugly dance, and had a huge grin on my face. He was actually surprised that someone showed interest, because apparently he had also had trouble finding someone who could meet with him regularly, so our situation was ideal. We scheduled our first practice session for the following day.
Our meeting places varied – campus corner, benches, study rooms – and we talked about all kinds of things. For me in particular, it was one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences that I have ever had. My life before college was culturally limited, and it never occurred to me that I could actually learn to speak another language, so practicing with Carlos was something totally different for me. We helped each other with our language homework, we shared music, we discussed some controversial issues and found that, among other things, our cultural upbringings had definitely influenced our opinions and ideas about the world. We taught each other a few.. *ahem* derogatory phrases to be used carefully, of course, and since he has gone, we keep in contact through a messenger app. I’ve helped him with his resume, he has helped me with my Spanish homework, and we have a system where we both write in the same language one day and then switch for the next day. Being able to do this is SO fun and exciting for me, and it reminds me to be grateful for my time at OU and for the growth that I’m experiencing. I hope that in the future, we can meet again to see how our lives and language abilities have progressed.