Tag Archives: spanish

The Problems with Bilingualism

Being bilingual has a certain number of perks. Mostly the fact that I can converse with a variety of people and be accepted among two different groups. It makes life very easy regardless of where I go. Plus job opportunities are always available in a variety of fields, and places. Then talk about relationships, I can date people in any Spanish speaking country and have them fully understand me.

So where’s the problem? Well, living in the states try speaking a non-preferred language and you face a certain amount of backlash. I’ve been told a number of times to speak English, which the only appropriate response is “I wasn’t talking to you” and to move on. What could one of the other downsides be? Well if English is your second language then you run into the problem of having an accent, and again if you are stateside then this creates the issue of people believing that you aren’t truly bilingual, that you are just a fresh off the boat person; and with that comes a plethora of obstacles. I’ve been in this situation before and it is not by any means a fun one. Stateside people will begin to discredit any kind of knowledge you may have; because while they ask you a question and wait for the answer you have two (or more) languages swimming around in your head as you search for the correct phrases, words, and order to form the sentence needed. As your languages do this dance, your conversation partner sits waiting and begins to try and ask other questions or the worse option, say the same question just louder as if the problem was that you’re deaf.

Being bilingual is fantastic and I suggest everyone to learn at least one more language or at least make the attempt, if not for your own benefit but to understand and be able to sympathize with the next person you encounter who has to go through both of their mental dictionary’s to make a simple sentence. If there is anything that you can take away from this it’s to remember to never judge someones level of intelligence because they struggle to find the words to say and don’t do the thing where you just say the sentence louder, say it slower.

Snorkeling

If I asked you to draw blind hope what would it look like? Could you create a melody that sounds like the best moment in your life? If I asked you what it felt like to drive home, knowing that there is someone waiting for you, could you tell me? These moments, these feelings transcend the boundaries of the human experience. They are proof that this world exists on a deeper level than what we could ever imagine. These moments make up the world we were meant to see. So where am I going with these philosophical thoughts? It’s simple really. We need to keep trying, keep exploring, and keep sharing these moments to enrich our souls but more importantly, to inspire others to seek out adventure.

Snorkeling. With that introduction, you might’ve thought that I found a land that time didn’t command or climbed a mountain whose peak no man has seen. No. I went snorkeling in Cayo Icacos. My friend had suggested that we take a “catameringue” trip. I initially found humor in the name because it was so similar to the delicious lemon pie. It wasn’t until several weeks after we came home that I realized I was pronouncing it horribly wrong, apparently, it’s spelled “catamaran.”  Good start, but as long as we remember to keep moving forward, it will all be okay.

We pulled up to this beautiful dock, with boats floating on crystal clear water. After tossing our shoes in a bin (still not sure why we did that) my friends immediately went to the back of the boat. In loyal fashion (and because I had no idea what else to do) I followed. I’ve never been on a boat like this before. As soon as we started sailing away, we bobbed in tandem with the gentle waves, swayed with the breeze, and was graced with an indescribable view. Words could never really do it justice. Suffice to say, I didn’t know where to look, but was intent on committing everything to memory. It was important to make sure everyone else in our four-person adventure group was getting this same experience, so I kept checking in. There’s nothing better than seeing the people you care about happy (not even a view like this one).

When we stopped near a beach, Kelly asked my shoe size. I thought she was joking, then I realized we were going to snorkel. Apparently, everyone else knew this was happening except for me. It was all such a new experience, and to be totally honest… I never knew how people breathed out of the snorkel tubes. One pair of flippers, goggles, snorkel tube, and one quick lesson later, I was intrinsically part of this warm, blue ocean. I can’t remember how long we swam, I wasn’t going back on the boat until I saw a fish. After I did, I rushed to the boat to relay this information and despite my excitement, I was given the look. “You saw a fish” – Kelly. “One fish” – Shannon. “Your going to love the next place we go.” – Kelly. Fifteen minutes later, we sailed to another island. On the way, a bird got so close to the boat and flew with us for a few seconds. It may sound silly, but I felt like we were one of the same. Imagine that? When it was time to get back in the water, everyone started jumping off the boat. Super casually throwing themselves off the side like it was THE NORM. After a little encouragement, I did too. It was a little high, but jumping in is never a bad thing is it? Read close because this next part, it’s unreal. My friends were already swimming ahead of me, I got distracted by the views above water. As soon as I started swimming, a school of blue and yellow fish were directly beneath me. They were swimming all around, comfortable and happy at home in the sea. My heart at that point was too full, but then Kelly turned around (I had no idea she was even waiting) and gave me some bread to feed them. Honest to Pete, they came right up. They weren’t scared or apprehensive, just trusting and excited (how cool is that?!) We swam and swam, saw coral reefs, gigantic fish with vibrant patters, sea urchins, and fish with long noses. I don’t remember how long I was under water, time froze in that moment. When I did come up to feel the sun, I looked to the boat only to find three people already waving back at me.

You never really know when the best days of your life are going to happen. One morning, you wake up and fall off a hammock. Then you find yourself on a boat, in the middle of an ocean, on a clear day, surrounded by people with hearts of gold. It’s the kind of day you don’t know what you did to deserve, the kind of day you revisit in the hard moments, it was the kind of day that ignited a passion. So no… I didn’t peak an unclimbed mountain or travel down an endless river. I went snorkeling, and that experience in itself, was enough. More than enough.

Multi-Cultural Shock

So where are you from?

It’s a question that has both plagued me and amused me since before I can remember and the answer usually starts like this, “well……so I’m Puerto Rican mixed….Dad’s German and Irish, hence Shannon Murphy ya know….but I was born in Puerto Rico by a Puerto Rican mother, raised in Pennsylvania, as you can hear by my lack of accent, and I’ve always been back and forth my whole life”. Most people have follow ups,

“So how’d you get into the country?” Well by row boat duh.

“Are you here on a visa?” Baby I’m everywhere with my visa, and mastercard, and amex….I should really work out my credit card debt…..

“So are you worried about Trump?” Aren’t you?!

But I digress. Point is, home is tricky for me. Am I home in Pennsylvania with my mother and sister? Where there’s a Wawa on every corner and we chant for the birds? E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!! Or am I home when I am among the Islanders? Reminding you we are Boricua pa’que tu lo sepas, chirping with the coqui’s and filling our tummies and souls with cocina criolla.

Moving to Puerto Rico is about as easy as walking into your favorite store on payday, you can have anything and everything you want. The people will welcome you with open arms and even more open kitchens. You are welcomed with a “Siéntate vecino, dímequé pasa?” You might be put off by how loud everything is but let me tell you joy is not a quiet emotion. All the noise, the reggaeton, the bomba, the yelling, baby that’s all audible joy, that’s my people. This culture is sweet and easy and to the point.

Moving to Pennsylvania on the other hand is like walking into a Wal-Mart that has one T.V. on Black Friday and you only have 50 cents. Since moving back to PA I’ve learned a couple of things.

~DISCLAIMER~ Just because I say this doesn’t make this all true, this isn’t all Pennsylvanians, this isn’t all Americans. But this is my perception, and my perception is my reality.

So I’ve learned in PA, what matters when you talk to people?

Is it my grammar? Not really, I speak a sancocho mix anyway so that doesn’t matter.

Is it my stories? Cause I have a quite a few, want to know what the docks in Lisbon look like in summer? Or how I hung my delicates out of a Paris Apartment window to dry? How about I delight you in the story of how I turned Jimmy Buffett and his entourage away simply because I didn’t know who he was and I didn’t have time to care.

No, none of those? Catch me on a drunk day, you’ll have to hear them no matter what.

But again, what matters when you talk to people in Pennsylvania? Specifically in it’s suburban hell. Here’s some of my prime examples. “What university did you go to? Because my daughter went to a much better one.” ($105,200 at least)

“Oh, you stay in hostels? I could never sleep in a room with a bunch of strangers, that’s for people who don’t work enough to afford a nice vacation. My husband though just went to Los Angeles for an important meeting but he’s going to spend the week there for fun.” (FYI, he’s probably cheating on you. Also, $2,039 for the flight alone)

On a lucky day when I’m eavesdropping I also might hear something along the lines of, “Well I just had to have the new Tesla, my Mercedes is old” ($69,200)

Now what is my point in all this? Ultimately it is to show the insane consumerism in suburbia, and how it is absolutely ludicrous to think that name-dropping one’s “superior” or name brand items is completely asinine and that shade of green you may see me turn isn’t envy, it’s disgust. Am I saying that if you are financially capable that you should not have nice things? No. But to define your entire personality around your materialism and narcissism is in short. Obnoxious. These are the quality conversations I have had the “joy” of having since moving to housewife county.

This is nothing short of a culture shock to me. Yes, I was raised in the states for quite some time, but somehow this culture of grasping and clawing for the newest, most boujee item is not part of me. As I write this, it’s on a broken tablet/computer, I don’t even wish for an Apple Computer because why. My computer now is working the same way for me that a Mac would.

The weather is cold in Pennsylvania and read the disclaimer if you’re offended, but the people are close to the same. Yes, there are good people here but unfortunately my interactions with them have been far and few. So was I raised in Pennsylvania, yes. Am I a Pennsylvanian, a Philadelphian, a yankee? Hell to the no. I am Puerto Rican, straight from my lips, Irish looking as they may be. I am Boricua, straight from the colorful Caribe to your gated community. Enjoy my stay.

And between you and me, I am legal, educate yourself.