The Art of Conversation is NOT dead!

Although some might disagree, what with all the gadgets and devices we use these days to communicate, texting, IM, Facebook, tweeting etc. Go on, admit it, you do too, don’t you?

Have we really lost the ability to hold face to face conversations?

I think not!

OK, so maybe I am slightly deviating from the true sense of the word ‘conversation’ in that I am referring to my Spanish classes, where students try to manage everyday situations in a foreign language. 

Here the conversations are more like tiny dramas, with people re-enacting daily life activities so that they can simply get by and maybe have a chat with one of the locals at the bar, order a meal, resolve issues at the bank, make appointments etc. Just the run of the mill, everyday stuff that we all take for granted when using our Mother tongue, but when faced with the same situation in a foreign land, it can be much more of a challenge and frequently too much for many to deal with. 

Today I had a class with a couple who now want to say more than just “Hola”, “¿Cómo estás?” and “dos cervezas, por favor!”. Actually they are much better than that, but they are frustrated by their lack of vocabulary and really want to interact more with their Spanish friends. It was a very enjoyable class, filled with laughter, plenty of wit and loads of chatter, some of it even in Spanish too!! 

Which, really, just proves my point! If we want to be social, and let’s face it, most of us are fairly sociable creatures (unless sleep deprived or hungover!!), then we all love a good old natter with our friends. There are only so many times you can type ‘lol’ or ‘lmao’ on Facebook or tweet some faceless being (140 characters – what’s the point???), eventually we all want a bit of a chat with someone and when the opportunity arrives, then we generally go for it. 

So, even today, whilst social networking is important to many, the art of conversation with people you actually know and can see is most definitely not lost. It is an invaluable skill and is an essential tool in all sorts of circumstances, but hopefully it is all fun, entertaining and emotional. We are only human after all and non verbal communication is just as important, 

Long may people want to converse with each other, and if you can manage another language, then good for you! 

Life in the fast lane? No thanks!

They reckon life is all too busy nowadays, we are all supposed to be juggling a million things at once, praying against hope that we don’t drop any clangers.

Living in Spain for the last ten years I have really seen the difference between the mad, mad world just over the water and the more relaxed, ‘take every day as it comes’ attitude of our Mediterranean neighbours. 

Now, most people will say that nothing ever gets done over here, well I beg to differ! The reason things take so long for some is because they don’t know the system and assume that the same procedures apply as they did in the UK. 

Wrong! This is Spain and, believe it or not, they have their own way of doing things. Most of the time these systems work well, but only the horror stories are ever reported. 

OK, so the banking system is dire, the housing market is on its knees and unemployment is through the roof. If you are affected by any of these, then you will no doubt think that these systems are failing you. 

But there is always a positive to every negative, and granted sometimes you have to look very hard to find, but it is there, HONESTLY!

Aside from the wonderful weather, you may wonder what it is that Spain has to offer to so many, why are so many people still spending their precious holidays here? 

Let me tell you how I see it: 
  • Spain has great food and the best wines (the Mediterranean diet has long been considered one of the healthiest in the world, and you won’t find an abundance of ready meals on the supermarket shelves here!)
  • In the South East, which is the preferred area for most European settlers, the air (thanks to the salt lakes) is deemed to be amongst the healthiest according to the World Health Organisation. 
  • Siestas still thrive, they start work early and stay late, so the mid afternoon break in the summer is an absolute life-saver.
  • On the same note, the supermarkets and shops are generally SHUT on Sundays. Time to relax and spend with the family.
  • Restaurants are family friendly, it is positively encouraged and definitely not frowned upon to take your children out to eat. 
  • Bank Holidays & Fiestas are colourful and vibrant, time to celebrate and participate in local traditions – not just another day off work.
If you let bureaucracy rule your life, then Spain will be your worst nightmare as it can be frustrating, annoying and slow, but if you do things properly and don’t listen to those barstool know-it-alls who dish out wrong advice with every glass, then there is nothing to fear here. 

Is that not enough? Life can be as busy and chaotic as you make it, if you choose not to slow down and ‘smell the coffee’, then you will always be chasing your dreams. 

Well, Spain was and still is my dream and so, I might have a different lifestyle to yours, it may be slower and you might even think it boring, but to me it’s just as I expected it to be, the sun shines a lot, people smile at you in the street, the coffee is great (it’s just really good coffee, not lattes, skinny mochachinos etc…), traditions are still respected and well, the other stuff of life, it still happens, it just seems less important when all else is taken into account.