Month: January 2013

How to Annoy and Be Annoyed on the Madrid Metro

By Benedicto16 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

  1. Check to make sure there’s a strike. Strikes cheer everyone up and accomplish so much!
  2. Bundle up. The metro is always freezing! Even if it is hot, there’s nothing wrong sweating like you just ran on public transportation.
  3. Arrive just as the train leaves. This is hard to do, but the best of us manage this at least 50% of the time.
  4. Do not sit down to wait. Those benches are for weenies and idiots. Stand. Stand as close as you can to the tracks so as to be NUMBER ONE on the metro, baby.
  5. Do not let the departing passengers off. Shove on in; you are número uno.
  6. Lean against the middle railing. But if you can get a seat, sit with legs sprawled wide. Alternately, find any way possible to take up tons of space.
  7. Ask for money.
    1. Sing and dance, then ask for money.
    2. In general, annoy your fellow passengers.
  8. Talk about the people standing by you. In Spanish, as if they can’t understand you. This isn’t Spain, is it?
  9. Smell bad. If at all possible. If you can’t smell bad, do try to reek of cologne/perfume/sun-ripened raspberry body spray and/or its ilk.
  10. Get up two stops before yours. There’s just no time to get up otherwise. Tell the people in front of you who are also getting off that you are getting off. They should let you up front! Don’t they know who you are?
  11. Do not check the signs to see which exit would be best.
    1. Stop in the middle of a large group of people.
    2. Turn around; you were going the wrong way.
    3. Do not apologize if you swipe someone’s shoulder so that they stagger backwards. After all, don’t hate the player, hate the game.
  12. Stand on the left side of the escalator so no one get by. Optional: stand on the center-left side so as to appear as though you’re considerate but do not actually be considerate. No, no, tsk, tsk.
  13. Rinse, repeat

Madrid Metro, Concha Espina station.

Thank goodness I don’t have to ride the metro on a daily basis! I find myself liking buses more and more!

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The Thing Is …

I’m not the world’s most prolific blogger. Why?

  • I don’t really care about SEO. I know, it’d help me. But as of now, my blog isn’t business, nor do I plan on making into one, so I see no real point. Try to convince me otherwise in the comments section!
  • I don’t buy into the whole “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” blogging circle. If you like what I write, share it (if you so desire). If you don’t, let me know by commenting or emailing me. If I like yours, I’ll do the same. I don’t want to get into any debates, but the idea of sharing someone’s work just so they’ll share mine is not something I want to get into.
  • I’m not interested in publishing your guest posts, the kind which you email me about with links to previous posts on other sites. These people email me, and then when I don’t reply, they email me again. Take a hint much?!
  • I fail at responding to all my emails. I am really grateful to those people who email me, but I’ve not been the best blogger lately. I have had several people email me, and as it’s not my full-time job, I put it aside for a later date, which sometimes doesn’t seem to come about so often. I’m sorry about that. I want to be better in the future.

I’ve had a short break during which I went private, brought on my insecurity about the future of this blog. Funnily enough, life in Spain is just life. (I know: I’ve said this before, a million times.) I don’t always have that much to say. The only thing I can say is that I will talk about this life without sugarcoating it, because I’m not Mrs. Bright and Sunny. There are so many things that are good about my life in Spain. For instance:

  • My students. They are all wonderful, even the troublesome ones. There is T, who can’t talk without yelling; M, a tall soccer player with great English and an amazing laugh; P, whose English at 11 years old astounds me; C, who’s studying both German and English; and E, who isn’t that good at English but always has a shy smile for me.
  • Being close to Mario. I can’t tell you how grateful I feel for him and the fact that I get to live with him now. Being in a long-distance relationship is tough, but I think being in a long-distance, bicultural one is even more so. Before any permanent state of togetherness is achieved (be it by marriage or pareja de hecho), there is doubt … doubt that it’ll ever work out, doubt that the bureaucracy will work in your favor, doubt that you can ever wait so long. But we overcame that period; we’re together now; we’re in this for the long haul.
  • The opportunity to live in another country. I think we can all agree that this isn’t something that everyone gets to experience, and I am so grateful for it.
  • Meeting other expats like me. I didn’t meet that many people in Zamora like me, but here in Spain I’m part of great groups that allow me to meet new people in so many places: game nights, drinks, pumpkin carving, etc. I’ve already met some great people, but there are always more to meet!

But then there’s the tough parts too: missing family, being sick far away from home with a system you don’t understand, the constant lluvia that has been the theme of this past week (which sucks even more when you have to walk two miles to work in it!), the lack of convenient transportation at times, and I could go on. But, although it’s my tendency, I’m focusing on the good.

There is always bad with the good. There just is. Yet  I believe I can be the kind of person (and blogger!) who sees both and chooses to focus on the latter.

If you were honest about life as an expat and/or traveler, what would you tell your readers?

Being an English Teacher Means …

learning-English-p7viz6

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  • Finding yourself speaking slowly even when you don’t need to. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve done this to poor Mario, who speaks impeccable English.
  • Pronouncing certain words differently without realizing it. I am almost 100% sure I now pronounce certain words differently. Why can’t I stop this?!
  • Constantly analyzing why we say things the way we do. Is it “at” or “in” or could it really be both? The skateboarding competition will be held at the park. The skateboarding competition will be held in the park. They both sound okay, but “at” sounds slightly better. What do you think?
  • Getting sick frequently. Yep, I’m under the weather again, this time with a lovely cough and mucosidad.
  • Talking a lot. Prepare yourself for those early mornings when you don’t want to say a single word, but have to take for an hour straight.
  • Getting frustrated when the students still don’t add the “s” onto the end of third-person singular verbs, like when they say, “She speak” instead of “She speaks.” Come on, Spanish verb conjugation is infinitely harder and I still do it right most of the time! You only have to do one “conjugation.” You shouldn’t forget it every single time!
  • Having to be constantly creative. There is usually a fun way to teach a subject, but it isn’t always fun to plan that fun activity. Capiche?
  • Loving it when the students (in my case, sixth graders) try. I can’t tell you how much it warms my heart to see them struggling to explain things to me, just because they could so easily slip back into Spanish, but they don’t. I love that they want to learn!

So, what about you, fellow English teachers? What does being an English teacher mean for you?

Literal Translation

First of all, I know: it’s been a while. I don’t have any excuses, really; life just got the better of me!

Literal translation is almost never a good idea. Plus, it can sound pretty awkward. Take one of my favorite Spanish expressions, “¡Eres la leche!” Literally, it would be, “You are the milk!” Um, thanks?! There’s gotta be a better way of going about it. Of course there is.

I bought a new book this past feel in my quest to (someday, one day) take the DELE. The DELE is an exam which tests one’s “degree of fluency in the Spanish language” and is “issued and recognised by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Spain.” (For further information, check out my friend Cat’s informative post on the subject.)

Anywho, the book I bought is called Hablar por los codos: Frases para un español cotidiano by Gordana de Vranic. The book gathers together 175 frequently-used colloquial expressions and idioms that they say are imprescindibles for daily communication. I’m not so sure about daily, but it’s certainly nice to expand one’s knowledge.

Here are some of my favorites:

josa-gato-por-liebre1

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Dar gato por liebre.

    • Literally: “to give a cat instead of a hare.”
    • Meaning: “to deceive someone, especially in a business transaction, selling him/her something different than requested, usually of lower quality.”
    • Use it: “No vayas a esa tienda. Ayer me dieron gato por liebre. Me vendieron una cosa que ya se había estropeado.”
    • Origin: Many years ago, it was normal to sell cats instead of rabbits/hares because their meat was so alike that even those most knowledgeable about meat were not able to distinguish between the two.

el_mundo_es_un_panuelo_by_argentalazuli-d2ybvjq

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El mundo es un pañuelo.

  • Literally: “the world is a scarf.”
  • Meaning: “it’s a small world (after all).”
  • Use it: “Cuando estaba estudiando en Canadá, me encontré con mi antigua compañera de la universidad. Ahora vive en Madrid, pero se había ido de vacaciones a Toronto. ¡El mundo es un pañuelo!”

cuatrogatitos

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Hay cuatro gatos.

  • Literally: “there are four cats.”
  • Meaning: “there aren’t very many people in a certain place.”
  • Use it: “Ayer en el bar había cuatro gatos.”

el santo

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Írsele el santo al cielo.

  • Literally: “the saint goes up to heaven [on someone].”
  • Meaning: “get confused, forget what one was talking about or what one had to do.”
  • Use it: “Estaba hablando con Teresa y se me fue el santo al cielo. No me acordaba de lo que quería decirle.”
  • Origin: It’s possible that it has to do with a priest who started talking about earthly things because he forgot about what saint and for what purpose he had begun speaking.

CARTEL NB_2012

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Pasar la noche en blanco.

  • Literally: “to spend the night in white.”
  • Meaning: “to not sleep all night” / “to not sleep a wink.”
  • Use it: “Estaba estudiando y pasé la noche en blanco. Todavía estoy cansado.”
  • Origin: In some chivalric orders, new members, before being knighted, spent the night awake with their weapons, dressed in white robes to symbolize purity.

pestanas

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Quemarse las pestañas.

  • Literally: “to burn one’s eyelashes.”
  • Meaning: “to study or read a lot.”
  • Use it: “Hay que quemarse las pestañas para aprobar el examen de lengua.”
  • Origin: This is an expression that was used in the past when referring to studying or reading at night and it meant that, as a person would read by the light of a candle, he/she might burn his/her hair, eyelashes, or eyebrows by getting too close to the flame.

What are your favorite Spanish (or English!) idioms/phrases?