Third Culture

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In our guest room a flag hangs from the wall above the bed. No, not a yellow and red flag; this one is red, white, and blue. You know—the stars and stripes. My dad bought Mario this flag to remind him where he should (eventually) settle down. My dad would like it very much if we moved back to the US, preferably yesterday. It has a prominent place in our home, this flag. Why?

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Vacationing in Sevilla

We live in Spain. We carry out the day-to-day of our lives, of our life, in Spain. We speak in Spanish and eat Spanish food. Yes, we do all this, all this Spanish stuff. We are Spanish.

But though we reside in Spain, we dream about living in the States too. We speak in English and watch American TV shows and movies. I make brownies and cookies and other American dishes. So we are also American.

Valorio en Agosto

In reality, he is Spanish. Born and raised in the heart of Castilla y León, with family roots that go back centuries, Mario is as Spanish as they come. Zamorano, really. His dark hair and eyes betray him. His telltale accent, his pronunciation of the z and c in the true castellano accent, his love for lentejas and  cocido and jamón and tortilla, his concern for his parents never to worry unnecessarily … he is Spanish.

Seth Kaley Cville

He is Spanish, and I am American. I speak English with the typical accent of many modern Americans, an accent that is almost impossible to pinpoint. I don’t worry about my parents worrying. I like basketball much more than football (soccer), and I don’t really enjoy eating a big meal at two o’clock in the afternoon. It still surprises me when children are out past 9 p.m., especially on weeknights.

Spanish American Wedding

Though we feel as Spanish and American as they come, we also love each other and each other’s culture too. So together we make our own culture, a third culture: a Spanish-American culture. We make stupid jokes: “Sweetie foot” (because pie means foot in Spanish) or “Estoy espalda” (literally “I am [a] back”). We eat tortilla for dinner and chocolate-chip cookies for dessert. We watch the Simpsons in Spanish.

We also compromise, just like any other couple, bicultural or not. We decide on the best way to clean the house. We let each other get away with things. We do things that don’t seem logical to us at times, but we do it because it’s important to the other person. I may or may not vacuum an insane amount of times per week.

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Just call us the Spanish-American Institute of Couples.

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6 comments

  1. Squealing over the baby pictures! I think it’s often hard to explain my Spanish-American relationship and the weird way in which we interact and live. I cried through Lauren’s wedding just thinking how lucky we are to have a third culture!

  2. Great post! It really sounds like you two do a great job of balancing everything out and working on everything as a couple. You seem to truly work well together. I’ve never been in a bicultural relationship, but I can imagine it has its difficulties at times.

  3. third cultures are the most adventurous! loved the post! I am also having fun with the third culture and more so, españglish! And i just love discovering those cultural differences… it seems like there is a new one every day! (ever get a spaniard to do jumping jacks?)

  4. Ha, sounds like household except it’s French-American. I legit spoke straight up franglais as a toddler. Only my parents could have understood the strange mixture of French and English coming out of my mouth. And your language jokes with Mario are pretty much the same things we do in my family–we are so ridiculously corny! Bicultural families are the best.

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