I´m pretty positive that in an earlier post I wrote about how awesome it is to have your IPOD everywhere, walking down the street, at the mall, riding the bus. And if I didn´t write it, then that is exactly how I felt. But what I failed to realize is the opportunity you are missing out on to observe the natives in their natural habitat, and to turn every opportunity into a learning one.
For example, yesterday I went to the grocery store. Normally when I go to the grocery store by myself, I take my IPOD. Actually come to think of it, anytime I go outside on the street, I take my IPOD. But yesterday I decided not to. (I´ve been listening to it a lot lately and have grown a bit bored of my song selection.) I went to the grocery story, attempted to blend in, which I´m getting better at doing, and decided I wanted chicken for dinner. Most grocery stores, unless they are very large, do not precut the meat. You have to go to the meat counter and ask for what you want and how much you want. For a foreigner, this may seem like a nightmare. I advise you to look up and\or write down the words for things you might have to ask for (or while you're at it, just make a bilengual grocery list). I wanted half of a chicken breast, sliced thinly.
I had looked up how to say half, but every different situation calls for a different word. When I ordered, even though I used the wrong "half", when the employee repeated my order, he said it right, thus I learned how to order what I wanted correctly. As for the really thin part, I was watching people in front of me order and ask for things, and one lady ended up getting her chicken sliced very thinly, so I repeated what she said, and thus I had thin chicken.
The reason I wrote this rather boring account of yesterday's trip to the grocery store was so that you realize even though it's comforting to be emersed in your own little world of IPOD tunes, you don't really realize how much you can learn by just observing and listening to the natives do mundane things. So, leave your IPOD at home.