Hello Everybody! I’m Angelica Berrios and I am from Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico. I am currently spending my high school junior year studying abroad in Badajoz, Spain. My goal for this program is to come back as a more confident and culturally aware person.
Although I am a fluent Spanish speaker, speaking Spanish in Spain was very nerve-wracking. It’s definitely a perk to be able to understand in class, but when you’re hit with some phrase that you have never heard in your life it starts to complicate things a bit more.
To help future exchange students, I have compiled a list of 7 different Spanish words and phrases that could be used in everyday conversations with your friends or host family.
I assume that most high school abroad students know what this means, but trust me you will say this A LOT, especially with your host family. No matter how much you wanna go to bed or how tired you are in the morning, never forget to say ”Buenos Dias” (good morning) and ”Buenas Noches” (good night). Finishing your dinner and going to bed without saying it is completely disrespectful and super rude so please remember to say it.
If you have ever seen a Spanish movie then you have probably heard this before. “Vale” (the “v” is pronounced with a “b” sound) is widely used through lots of parts of Spain and you will hear it nonstop. “Vale” essentially means “Ok” so you use it to affirm that you understand something. For example, when my host sister tells me what we are going to do that day she says “vale” to make sure I understood what she was saying. The more time you spend in Spain, the quicker you start to say “vale” in your daily vocabulary.
The direct translation of these two words are “aunt and uncle” but in Spain you call almost everyone “tia” or “tio“. While it is mostly used between friends, sometimes you even call your parents “tia” or “tio“. However remember that these are typically slang words that are used in a informal setting so don’t go around calling your teachers “tia” or “tio“. If you are with your friends though then it is totally cool to refer them as such.
The first time I heard this word I was highly confused because I had NEVER heard it before. It’s not a difficult word to comprehend though, “guay” (rhymes with “way”) simply means “cool” or “cute.” You will hear “Qué Guay!” When you tell your classmates that you’re from the United States or Puerto Rico in my case. They say it because they think it’s so cool to have a foreigner in their class. Don’t feel scared or confused when they say “guay” they are just appreciating how cool you are!
I personally hear this phrase quite often especially in school. It means “how are you doing” or “how are you” and my classmates tend to ask me this a lot so they can make sure I’m not having any trouble in class or to check if I did well on an exam. You should reply with a simple “muy bien” so that the people asking can make sure you are doing ok. Spanish people are always willing to help so if you actually don’t feel that it’s going “muy bien” then tell them what’s wrong and they will try to help you.
If you get kinda tired of saying “adios” all the time you could say “hasta luego” which basically means “till next time!” Some people say it and some people don’t, but “hasta luego” is definitely more said here in Spain than it is back home in Puerto Rico. Personally I don’t say it often but it’s definitely a phrase you should know while living in Spain. It’s up to you if you wanna incorporate it into your daily vocabulary.
The last word you should know is obviously “gracias,” which means thank you! People don’t often say “gracias” in Spain but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, especially with your host family that do a lot to make you happy. The least you could do is say “thank you.” Also, in school say it to your teachers and classmates because they help out a lot too.
I hope that you will all be able to use these Spanish words and phrases in your daily vocabulary and I hope that if you are considering going to Spain DO IT! You will not regret it. Also if you are already going to Spain then have fun! You are going to have one of the best experiences of your life.