Thoughts on vocabulary

It’s always a challenge when you start doing something unfamiliar in a foreign country; you find that you don’t know how to say anything! Most of my vocabulary in Spanish is based around eating, sleeping, and traveling. I have never built anything “in spanish” before. Now I find myself hearing unfamiliar words every day. Can you pass me the alicates? Use the martilla to put in the claves. Where is the laucha? Pass me the bottle of cola fría please… I mostly respond in grunts, and do a lot of hand-waving and pointing. And to make things more confusing, half of these new words are unique to Chile, so I’ll need to be careful using them in the next country…

I’ve always had this romantic idea that I could work as a civil engineer anywhere in the spanish-speaking world, simply because I “speak Spanish”. In reality, it would surely be very difficult. Basic tasks like writing reports, and using computer-based drafting would suddenly be time consuming tasks with a steep learning curve.