Parties can be among the most intimidating situations for a lot of language learners. Today Julien shares some of his mindsets about parties to help you relax, enjoy them and practice whatever language your learning with ease when you're at a party.
*** Transcript ***
All right. Hey, everyone. How's it going? Hope you're having a good day. And I'm really happy to have Julien back on the podcast. How's it going, man?
Things are doing well over here, man. How about you?
Pretty good. Pretty good, man. It's been quite a while since we've done a podcast.
Yeah, yeah. Back in January there.
Yeah, so anyways, Julien, I know you've been ... Like we talked about last time. You've been living in Mexico for a while.
I know you're someone who's done a lot of traveling around the world, and a lot of my students they have- or we talk about, a really intimidating thing is when you're going out on a social event, and you have to socialize with people you don't know in a foreign language. And it's different from in school where everyone gets turns to put your hand up and talk, and it's a little more [crosstalk 00:00:51] and a party is pretty much a free-for-all, right?
Yeah, that's it. No rules.
So, how have you survived in Mexico when you go to parties where not everyone speaks English? Did you find any ways to deal with it or how have you handled that?
Well, I would say I had the good fortune of having a few years of basic Spanish as a teenager back in the day with you.
And some managed to stick because I went to Spain a few times after high school and before the time I got here in Mexico so, I at least had a little bit of a base but I was nowhere near fluent from. [inaudible 00:01:28] coming down to Mexico and the accent's different, and there's just things you don't understand, expressions, and idioms.
But yeah, it took some time where I finally was able to get super confident but never hurts to try. That's really the only way to learn, and I always kind of appreciated that I was in a place where I could immerse myself and ... I work in a school, and I chit chat with some of the teachers or the caretakers there, and it kind of stays like the same kind of conversation but, as you mentioned in a party it's a bit more of a free-for-all, and I find that's when you really get challenged and ask questions about everyday life that you wouldn't normally just have in a 30 second conversation with someone.
Right, and those are probably ... Even though a lot of people don't want to put themselves in those positions, those are probably the best places to grow your fluency, right? When you really got to struggle to listen.
Yeah, I think one thing that we always have to keep in mind is, when we go to parties, people aren't there because they want to hate on other people. So-
They probably want to have a good conversation, and even if they see that you're struggling, they're probably going to be open and welcoming, and maybe they'll run out of patience at some point but they're not going to hate you, so. As long as you're fun and smiling, and kind of trying to understand, and accepting that you won't understand everything at first, and that's totally fine because hey, you just got here or you just started speaking this language a little bit ago. Or you haven't had that much exposure or practice, and I think a party is a really good time where ... Yeah, even if you make a mistake and you end up being kind of like the one being laughed at a bit, if you can take that on, it's a big step of you getting out of your comfort zone and being comfortable in some different kind of situations you wouldn't get in a classroom.
Right. And it's exactly like you said, man. It's a party. It's a feel good environment, right?
A lot of students say when I'm doing one-on-one sessions, "You're tutoring me. I'm allowed to ask you what it means. This is kind of what I'm paying you for. But if I do this at a party, people would get annoyed of me." But I'm wondering, have you ever had situations where you're at a party and you just didn't know what they said? Or you didn't know what the word or the idiom meant so you just said, "Hey, well what does that mean?"
Well, I'm sure a lot of your listeners can relate in the sense that, okay, when you introduce yourself to new people at a party, it's also a bit of the same words that you use on a regular basis.
And you're always introducing yourself, new people. It's when you're all of a sudden in a situation where there's about six, seven, eight people just speaking Spanish around you, and then you're kind of getting tired, and that party, too, might be a little later on in the day. You've worked all day.
You're just starting to feel a little bit like, "I can't concentrate on this anymore." And me, I would just tune out sometimes. And people are going to be like, "Hey, everything okay over there, Julien?" Like, "Yeah I'm fine. I'm just really tired now." I guess I felt kind of ... Mexican people are very warm, and they're not really going to judge too hard so, at least in this kind of situation ... Yeah, I kind of pulled the plug a few times but when I had the energy in me, I knew it was always a good time to just start learning new expressions, especially that's when you hear the slang and how people talk outside of a textbook as well.
Yeah, yeah, and that's the same thing on Mongolia, man. I would always try to listen and hear the new words but I would never feel ... [inaudible 00:04:58] shut off your brain and not pay attention for a bit, right?
You could just watch people and observe the culture through body language, but-
But did you ever just ask, in a party,"What does that mean? What does that expression mean, I've never heard of that." Then people are like, "Just don't ask me that, don't even-"
That doesn't happen, does it? Or?
No, I don't think it ever happened in Mexico ever once. It's just, people are a little too warm, at least I'd like to believe that we live in a world where people are interested by different kinds of people. In Mexico, people are very interested in foreigners and, "Oh, what's your story?" And they'll start speaking English first if they can, but then you can answer back in Spanish, and I find, you just kind of flow with it, too.
I never really had a problem asking someone what that meant. As long as I wasn't kind of interrupting the flow of someone's conversation or of a good joke. Maybe I would try to remember the word. Sometimes I would write it down on my phone and ask someone I cared about more later on like, "Hey, what does this mean again?"
But, yeah I really wouldn't try to be too shy. I think that's one of the most important things about languages. You're not going to be the life of the party or singing in this foreign language but to be outgoing and to step out of your comfort zone I think is really, really important in order to be able to eventually feel comfortable.
Yeah, and people like helping. People like-
-helping each other. I can't imagine me being at a party and someone's saying, "Oh, what does that mean when you say 'Let's do a beer run?'" And I'd be like, "Shut up, man. Don't you know anything, you fucking idiot?" No one-
Who invited this guy?
Yeah. Who invited this idiot who doesn't know everything about our culture already?
Oh, man. So-
That would be horrible if someone ever asked that.
Yeah, and if someone acted rude to that person, they would probably just alienate themselves a little bit. Because a party's, it's a feel good thing, right?
Yeah, that's it.
So, how about cultural differences in partying? I don't know. I've never been to Mexico. Did you see any ... Korea was just completely a different world but ...
Yeah, I could say over time is when I've felt more and more that Mexico and Canada have strong differences. Chiefly in December when you come back and the difference of temperatures, 40 degrees and there's snow everywhere. Yeah, Mexico is different from Canada, and I think the number one culprit is tequila because it's just everywhere. People really like it, right?
Even mescal, which is kind of like the step before it becomes tequila, or it's more of an artisanal kind of liquor made from the same plant.
That's the one with the worm in it?
It can have the worm in it, yeah. But it's kind of just like processor to before it becomes tequila. It's really good. People really like drinking. It's very strong drinking culture. And so people kind of ... they definitely push their limits, parties go a little bit later on, you can just find anything you want here. So, it's a little bit more like when you go on a party, you can really end up going to three different places at night, don't remember how you spent 2000 pesos or, I don't know, 150 bucks. Like, "Oh shit. Maybe I should remember this."
But those are the old days. In partying in general, I think it's a little bit more ... People are definitely very outgoing, and from a foreigner's perspective, people are generally interested in like, "Oh, who is this guy? Why are you at this party? Where'd you come from?"
Right. Cool, man. Is there any etiquette or things that you can do in Canada that you can't do in Mexico?
Let me see here. I think a lot more of kind of like anything goes. There's some parts of the country that are more conservative. For sure in Guadalajara, and in the north it's a little bit more conservative family style. Mexico City still is very strong family values but you're not really going to get judged for going out all night.
So, I think as a whole ... I think you can do anything you want to do that you can do in Canada here. Except for maybe snowboarding, playing hockey.
All right. Nice. Cool, man.
All right. Well Julien, man. Thanks again for sharing your party wisdom, and your [crosstalk 00:09:35]
Thanks for coming on the podcast, dude.
Thanks for having me, man.
And yeah, talk to you soon.
Have a good one, man.