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I’m Strange? Creo que no!

5 Jul

I wrote a post right after arriving to Madrid about things I would have to get used to. (Being tall, eating a real breakfast, being a vegetarian, not drinking ALL the time, etc.) I got used to some, and just accepted that some Spaniards will just continue thinking I’m strange when it comes to others. After being here for nine and a half months, though, I think the weirdos might be them.

  • Dear middle-age to old Spanish women, I know it was expensive and I know it’s pretty, but if its 65 degrees outside MAYBE a fur coat is too much. (This goes to younger people, too, who were still sporting pea coats, scarves and gloves!)
  • On the flip side: I know it’s necessary to be “en la moda”, dear annoying Spanish teenagers, but boots when it’s about 100 degrees outside is a little beyond commitment to fashion!
  • I eat dinner between 7:30 and 9pm. This fact should not result in an entire third grade class (including the teacher) to make exclamations and raise their brows about how unimaginably early that is. I think eating dinner between 10:30pm and 12:30am is much more shocking.
  • If food is free, I am going to eat it…A LOT of it. Free food doesn’t seem to excite Spaniards. Weird!
  • Peanut butter isn’t sold many places in Europe, and I have come to find that a lot of Europeans actually hate how it tastes. (I can understand that coming from the people of Belgium since they have Speculos spread, which is SO much better!) Obviously that makes pb&j sandwiches less than a big hit here, but with bocadillos stuffed with fried calamari or tortilla Española (potato-packed omelet/ carb overload), one can hardly call any sandwich strange.

I mean all of this with love, of course. Spanish culture is different from American culture in several ways (including efficiency of pretty much everything, haha), but I like it. Spanish people love to enjoy life, like to talk a lot and are very proud of their history. I am lucky to have gotten to experience it, but I do hope I can shake the chronically-WAY-too-late habit I have started to adopt (aka “Spanish time”, which is approximately 45 minutes to 1.4 hours late). As if I was ever all that great about being early anyway!

XO

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Hablas Español todavía?

17 May

An update on fluency: I’ve been told “has mejorado much en Español!” by people like my landlord or parents of kids I tutor, which is them saying I have improved a lot. Yay!

While this is exciting (not that I had any way to go but up, lol), there’s still a ton I don’t know.

Some days I feel particularly confident in my Spanish conversation skills. This usually results in me saying something I mistakenly think I know or am able to pronounce. This happened in Alicante. I was so proud of Laura and myself because we were speaking a lot in Spanish since it was the only common language we shared with our host. We were chatting it up on the beach when I thought I would offer everyone some peanuts I had brought for a snack.

Me: “Alguien quiere cashew-tays?”

Roberto y Laura: “Que dices?”

Me: “Cashew-tays. Sabes? Estos (pointing to my bag of peanuts).”

Roberto: (still looks confused)

Laura: (bursts out laughing)

Me: “What?! I know this word! You spell it CACAHUATES. Ya know, cashew-tays”

Laura: “No, dear, it’s kakaoowates.”

Roberto and Laura: (laugh at me extensively)

Oh well, at least I try.

XO

Back to the Land that I LOVE

7 May

Yes, Italy! Laura and I’s next stop during Semana Santa was Florence. It’s the fourth city I’ve visited in Italy only a month after my trip with Beau. My general rule while here has been to try not to repeat countries and cities since there is so much still to see, but I can’t stay away from Italy. Going to Florence only reaffirmed that I am in love with everything about that country and absolutely MUST retire there one day…maybe with my own bed & breakfast.

Every city in Italy has had a homey and laid-back feeling with a hint of complete awesomeness in the air while also still staying true to itself and standing apart from all of the others. Venice was romantic, Cinque Terre was beautiful like I’ve never seen before and Rome was enormously impressive, Florence was artsy. From the sculptures in Piazza Signoria and the Dumo to the panoramic views from Piazzale Michelangelo, the entire city is a piece of art.

One of the statues in front of Palazzo Vecchio, the old palace.

 

The Dumo and baptismal chamber in front.

 

Night view of the city from across the Arno River at the top of Piazzale Michelangelo.

 I love Florence for more than just its art and beauty. The center of the city is compact, so it’s completely walkable and doesn’t take more than 20 minutes to get anywhere on foot. This convenience made it easy to really get to know the city and eat the best paninis (mmmm fresh cheese and yummy truffle sauce) and gelato (sheep cheese is the BEST flavor in the world). We walked though all the markets, which smelled of genuine leather, and shopping streets filled almost exclusively with high-end stores. Next time I am in Florence, I will have a bigger shopping budget!!

My favorite two things were definitely seeing The David and going to a wine tasting. The David absolutely is as amazing as everyone claims it is. The larger-than-life sculpture is so detailed, I honestly thought his skin was glowing in the light. It really puts all other sculptures to shame.

The Accademia's main attraction.

 

Bravo Michelangelo!

 I had never been to a wine tasting before, but this one will surely be one of the best I ever go to. Our host, Pinot (as in Pinot Grigio? LOL), really knew his stuff. He told us all about Tuscan wines, three of which we got to sample…if “sample” means two or three glasses of each, haha. We also tried extra virgin olive oil and 10-years-aged balsamic vinaigrette that was to die for! (And cost 35 euro!) We ate and drank all we wanted, then I bottle one bottle of each wine we tried.

Florence was an especially great trip because we stayed with Laura’s friend, Maddie, who was a great host and tour guide! The people were so nice there, as they have been everywhere in Italy and which always makes a place more memorable. I  Italia!

XO

Hiatus

21 Mar

I haven’t posted in a little while but don’t fret (as if you were, ha)! I’ve been MIA because my boyfriend visited again during his Spring Break and we travelled to  Mallorca, Barcelona, Venice, Cinque Terre and Rome. I will be posting about that trip over the next few weeks, but for now I will just say that I am in love with Italy! But then again, who isn’t?

XO

Happy Valentine’s Day!

14 Feb

I’d like to take a moment to wish my friends and family back home a Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope everyone got flowers, went to dinner or at least received an e-card! I was lucky enough to get a sweet package from my boyfriend even though I’m so far away (and it was on time!). It’s one of  the best valentines I’ve gotten and I’m not even with my him or going on a date tonight…that says a lot about my ex-boyfriends, huh?! LOL!

I love you and miss you all! I hope you are having a lovely day! 🙂

XO

Happy Thanksgiving!

25 Nov

I would like to take time to say Happy Thanksgiving to everyone back at home! Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated here at all, so everyone has still been working and going about their lives as usual. I even almost forgot to say Happy Thanksgiving to the other English assistants at work this morning it’s so normal here! I did do a presentation about our holiday in my classes today, which mostly just made me wish I was back home with everyone. The kids seemed to like it, though, especially the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and the food. I am definitely missing watching the parade with my mom and football with my dad, eating way too much, then staying up all night to go Black Friday shopping with Crandall! I am so thankful that all of you are a part of my life 🙂

My American friends an I are having Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, but it’s hard to find some of the ingredients for the must-have dishes. No one here has ever heard of stuffing, cranberry sauce or casseroles. You’re lucky if you find pre-made pie crust. My friend had to search high and low for sweet potatoes, and I can only make squash casserole IF I can find any squash, ha. Other people are making apple pie, mashed potatoes and mac ‘n’ cheese, YUM! Even if the recipes are a little different than back at home, I’m looking forward to it.

Hope everyone is having a relaxed Thanksgiving!

XO

Weekend Highlight

24 Oct

 

He is drinking an energy drink and, yes, it is called Pussy.

 

I had to make this picture a little bigger, ha!

XO