Customs: Spain Through the Eyes of a Guiri (Foreigner)…

After spending almost 4 months in Spain, I’ve made many observations about the people and way of life here…Granted, I don’t call myself an expert on all things español, but I’d like to consider myself at least somewhat knowledgeable regarding the culture–I mean, I’ve been here for a semester!!…Hence, for everyone who has never been but wants to go to España, I’ll expound upon some of the major social mores/behaviors…

Interpersonal Relations:

  • Don’t smile at everyone–In Spain (and, well, the rest of Europe) you’re walking in the street, you don’t smile at people you don’t know…You can only smile at friends/family, someone you find fetching, and babies (and let’s get real–who can resist smiling at a cute baby)–unless, of course,  you want to mark yourself as the overly-smiley American idiot…Smiling generally indicates that you have, *em*, a certain interest in someone, therefore, it can be taken the wrong way…Granted, I have had people in stores, restaurants, and the post office smile at me occasionally, but for the most part, people keep a solid poker face…It basically boils down to this:

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La Semana Santa…

O.K., so it was that time of year last week: Semana Santa (Holy Week), which meant a lot of this went on in the streets:

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…(Yes, I know this may look bad to some of my fellow U.S. citizens–but it’s not what you think [Read: Do you really think I would have gone outside if that sort of crap was going on???])… Continue reading

Game Day: El Clásico…

So yesterday afternoon, me and some of my compañeros went to Madrid to see the Clásico between Real and Barça…And trust me when I say this: It.Was.AWESOME…

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…Us on the bus…

O.K., so when we got to Madrid, we immediately went to the Bernabéu (Madrid’s home stadium), and there were thousands of people in and around it–which really isn’t surprising, considering that this was a match between two of the, if the the, most successful clubs in the world, and furthermore, two clubs with the most epic rivalry in the world… Continue reading

More Than Just a Game: El Clásico de Fútbol…

O.K., so I’m excited for two reasons: 1) I’m going to my first professional football match, and 2) It’s not just a football match, it’s El Clásico (The Classic)

Now, when I refer to football (or fútbol, as it’s called it Spanish), I’m not talking about that watered-down, Americanized version of rugby…I’m talking about this:

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A game with 11 players on each side where the object is to kick/head-butt the ball into the net of the opposing team…Now this is real football because all the players (except the goalie) aren’t allowed to use anything but their feet (unless someone’s throwing in the ball from the sidelines)…Add the fact that these people are essentially running around a field with more square yards than an American “football” field, during which their trying to manuever a ball/steal it from people solely with their feet while the people from the other squad are trying to trip you/knock you over, with very little rest for 90 minutes (or more)–yeah, there’s more than a little athleticism involved here… Continue reading

Perception vs. Reality: Busting Common Stereotypes of Spain and the Modern Spaniard…

O.K., so having been here for a month, I’ve gotten to know quite a few españoles…Now, I’m not saying that there’s a “typical” Spaniard–after all, there’s no one who’s truly “typical” from any culture…However, it has to be said that many of the perceptions people have about Spaniards tend to be untrue for many of them–And here’s where I’ll try to bust some of the common cultural myths that surround los españoles (and España, itself)…

1) All Spaniards have dark hair, skin, and eyes–Granted, there are a good deal of people here who have this genetic make-up…

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…Paz Vega–A gorgeous brunette española

However, keep in mind that Spain is a country with people of countless phenotypes–Take, for instance, my intercambio partner, Patricia…

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…Blonde hair, blue eyes, and fair skin–I rest my case… Continue reading

Cómo los españoles comen tapas (How Spaniards eat tapas)…

Last night, I got to do something inherently Spanish for the first time: Fui a tapear (I went to eat tapas)…Now, what exactly does that mean???…Let me explain…

A tapa  (or pincho)is a small apertif that could be anything–paella, pasta, assorted vegetables, etc.–and typically served with a drink…Something like this…

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Una  bola de patatas y atún, con salsa y pan (A ball of potatoes and tuna, with sauce and bread)… Continue reading

Las primeras impresiones (First Impressions)…

…After a long, tiring day of bustling through airports, I’m FINALLY here in Spain!!!!…I haven’t been here that long, but I can tell that I’m going to enjoy it here!!…

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…A view from my balcony…

First, there’s the city itself…While I haven’t seen that much of it, what I’ve seen has been simply beautiful…The architecture is amazing, and the ancient cobbled streets lined with stores and restaurants are simply pleasant to walk through and people watch–Don’t worry, there’ll be more photos to come!!!!

…Another thing to love is the food…Granted, I’ve only started to experience the joy that is Spanish cuisine today, but I can tell you right now that it’s AMAZING!!!!…My madre (who I’ll talk more about in a bit) made arroz con pollo (chicken and rice)–simple yes, but ultimately very delicious and full of sabor (flavor)…It would seem that the the hallmark of Spanish cuisine is taking very ordinary ingredients and turning them into something extraordinary–a tortilla de patatas (potato tortilla, but really more of an omelette)…

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…Made mainly from potatoes and eggs (among other things, according to the tastes of the cook), this is one of the most common dishes in Spain…Truly delicious, which again demonstrates the beauty of simplicity found in la comida española.

…And of course, I can’t forget my host parents, Lourdes and Manuel…At first, I was sort of afraid that they possibly wouldn’t like me, but it turns out that they’re two of the sweetest, helpful padres (parents) a girl could ask for…They strive to make sure I’m comfortable, not only with the house but with them as well, and they only ask that I give them respect in return–and it’s doesn’t hurt that they’ve told me that my Spanish is excellent!!…Overall, I look forward to spending the semester with them!!!!

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…Mis padres…