A little something you take for granted when you live in your home country:
When you're having a conversation in your home country, you make references to pop culture all the time. You reference the latest news stories without even thinking about it. You reference important people and events in the history of your country all the time. It's part of your life and you weave it into conversation without even thinking about it.
However, when you're in a foreign country, you're at a complete disadvantage. Right now, I feel that my language ability is relatively high. I can understand a great deal of conversation and respond when I feel it necessary. I love conversation. Portenos love conversation. But, the thing that frustrates me is that when you're part of a large conversation, those previously mentioned references keep on popping up non-stop. I sucks being at such a loss when someone references a bombing in 1955 that you never knew existed or a politician in 1984 that everyone disliked.
Therefore, a bit of advice. When you go off to learn a new language...do your research. Learn about the big events and people in that country. Commit them to memory because they're bound to come up and you'll feel great when you can finally make that reference you've been longing for.
Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina