Ambiguity

The city of Madrid is amazing, but I really want to see other parts of Europe while I am here. Over the past week I booked train tickets and a hostel for a trip to Seville, a flight and an Airbnb for a visit to Ireland and made plans for a weekend in Barcelona. This past weekend I spent a day in Segovia. The architecture of the cathedral and the castles are incredible and beautiful. I also had the chance to see the aqueducts that were built during the second half of the first century. It was really cool to wander around this city for a day considering how old and unique all the buildings are.

I was discussing with my coworkers this week the difference between my Spanish and their Spanish. I have taken Spanish classes since I was in sixth grade, but the Spanish I have always learned was more focused on Latin American Spanish as opposed to Spain Spanish. Therefore, there are many words and phrases that people use here that I am not accustomed to hearing. For example, I am used to saying the word “soya” to mean soy, but in Spain (and only in Spain) they pronounce it “soja”. After learning this I realized that’s why I was getting some odd looks when I ordered coffee with “soya”. This difference in words goes both as well, because the English that people learn here is from Great Britain so there are different words that I use that they have not learned. An example of this would be the term “jumper” versus the term “sweater”. I was very confused when someone who has lived in Spain their whole life told me they liked my jumper. They use this term for sweater because it is what is taught in English class in schools here!

Over the past week I was given the opportunity to analyze a lot of data in order to help in the process of forecasting future demand of the different departments of the hospital. I love Excel so it was really fun for me to play around with data in pivot tables in order to find the information I wanted. Something that was not as fun was discovering how to function excel in Spanish. I am unable to use my own laptop to analyze this data since it is private information, and therefore must stay on the company computers. The excel on their computer is about ten years old and every tab was in Spanish, so it was difficult to navigate. However, I eventually go the hang of it and discovered that an “if” function is a “si” function.

I was not given much instruction at all when given these tasks in excel. I almost preferred this because I was able to figure out new functions and analyze the data how I preferred. I was often given unclear direction or a purpose so sometimes it was difficult to understand what exactly I was searching for the data. For example, I was asked to compare orders in April and May, but I was not told why or on what aspect to compare them. In order to overcome this ambiguity, I asked for further clarification. This didn’t end up helping too much as my supervisor’s response was “just see how they differ.” To complete this task that had unclear instructions I started using a pivot table to comb through the abundance of information and decided to use price per unit as a comparison. From this I saw that prices differed from one month to the next. I did a few more comparisons and sent them back to my supervisor. Turns out I did exactly what she was hoping! From that experience I learned that if ambiguity exists even after I ask for further clarification, then I need to use problem solving skills to come to a solution. Most of the time the answer is right in front of me and I just need to think a little to find it.

Another instance where I was given unclear instructions was when I first began working with placing orders in PeopleSoft. I wasn’t given an instruction and was just told to do it. I could not mess up an order because the company is spending money in order to receive these products. In this instance I needed to ask my coworkers for assistance in order to ensure I was placing orders correctly. One of my coworkers was nice enough to walk me through the process step by step. Afterwards, I was able to order by myself with no issues.