Friday, November 30, 2007

Learning by Shopping

I never imagined a trip to the store could be so difficult, or that I could learn so much, or that it could somehow determine whether or not I had a good day, or a bad day. But here, in a new place, with new food, and a new language, all of those things can be determined at the grocery store.

In the begining I had trips to the store where I entered, list in hand, and then left, what seems like many hours later (actually it was close to 2 hours), with very little that was on my list. That was the start of a bad day. A day where I realized how frustrating it can be not to be able to communicate, where I actually missed the ease and familiarity with which I used to be able to accomplish this mundane task.

Another evening I proudly exclaimed to Dan when he arrived home "Guess what? I found cottage cheese today!" Though he did not find it quite as exciting as I did. Not that I am overly crazy about cottage cheese, but the first time I made an attempt, I ended up with sour cream. A learning experience, and this time I got it right.

I have stared at the long fish section for many minutes, observing which of the 4 take-a-number-options people chose, and what they did with each. Now I can both select the correct option for my order (fresh fish, that clean it in front of you, is my favorite), and generally place my order in Portuguese (though I still point as well, in case my pronunciation is totally off, which it probably is).

I have wandered each of the aisles of the large grocery stores and the small market stalls, studying the foods, both to identify the familiar and to begin to familiarize myself with all that is new. I never thought that I would be able to gauge my progress in immersing myself here at a grocery store, but today I crossed everything off my list and was out of the store in 40 minutes. Today was quite a good day.

1 comment:

Katrin said...

For all you ICF'ers out there...I can't believe I missed this opportunity to quote Johnny V. So here it is:

"It's toooo hard"