Mastering a language is always a difficult thing, especially when you suddenly find yourself in a foreign country and nobody speaks English.
My first few days in Valladolid, Spain, were filled with hand gestures and online translators in the fall of 2011. I was about to begin university, and I didn’t know anyone yet, so obviously I had to embarrass myself in someway or we wouldn’t be talking about me.
Once you get into the higher level classes (year 3-4) at the university, the classroom sizes are greatly reduced. So obviously, the first thing they do to welcome international students is to have them present themselves.
On the verge of peeing my pants, I kept going over the few sentences I memorized. “I’m from Canada, I love football (soccer), and running. Running is my favourite thing to do, and I do it every day.”
Now, reflexive verbs are a tricky thing for English speakers. In Spanish you would say “me ducho” o “¿te afeitas?” literally meaning “I shower myself” and “do you shave yourself?” In English, we don’t have this distinction between the regular and reflexive verbs. We say, “I shave” and not “I shave myself”.
So the professor says, “next” and I’m up. “Hola me llamo Aleks, soy canadiense, me encanta el fútbol y me corro todos los días. Me corro porque es mi cosa preferida y lo hago todos los días.”
The problem lies in the “me corro”. If I wanted to say “I run everyday” it would be “Yo corro todos los días” or “corro todos los días”. If you say “me corro” it means “I get myself off everyday” meaning…I masturbate.
I told the class I get myself off everyday and it’s my favourite thing to do. I’d say it could be worse, but no, it really couldn’t be.
The real problem was that NO ONE corrected me, so I repeated this in ALL of my classes. THANK YOU FELLOW PEERS. Finally, a guy who spoke English fluently leaned over and stated, “you told everyone you like to orgasm.”
Surprisingly, except for a few smirks, no one really reacted to my bold statement. The Spanish are pretty liberal so, maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing, right?
**if you want to share your athletic abilities with the Spanish, it’s always YO corro, never ME corro, unless of course, you do want to share that part of your day with your new foreign friends.