You've done it: you sold your house in the States, bought a nice piece of real estate by the beach, built your dream house, furnished it with all the things that your heart has ever desired. So now you're ready to sit back and enjoy paradise? Maybe... if by enjoying paradise you’re planning to stay within your 4 walls and only hang out with your gringo friends, then yes, you’re done.
But if you really want to live life at its fullest in Panama, there is something that you should really do (if you haven’t already done it): LEARN SPANISH!
Even by just knowing a little bit, you will immediately notice how much nicer people are to you. Speaking the local language is the very first sign of respect any newcomer should show. The real world is right outside your door and by speaking even a little bit of Spanish you will be able to discover that exciting and amazing country called Panama.
English will allow you to survive but you will get so much more if you can converse in Spanish with the local people. It is not true either that everyone speaks English in Panama, in fact being able to learn a second language is mostly reserved to those privileged who can afford a private education. And how are you going to make your new home a better place if you cannot speak Spanish?
If you are relocating to Panama, speaking Spanish to local tradespeople, builders, utility companies, or when setting up a business, means you will get superior, faster service and you will be in a better position to negotiate if things go wrong. Knowing the language also opens up endless new friendships, and a deeper understanding of the Latin American culture.
Luckily for you, Panama is home to one of Central America’s most reputed Spanish schools: Habla Ya (http://www.hablayapanama.com/
Bottom line: don’t become another “Ugly American” and make sure you know your bit of Spanish if you’re going to live here...
This article was contributed by Julio Santamaria of HablaYa Spanish School