Expat Life

Typical First-Time English Conversation Assistant Blog Ideas

I try to write with good grammar, but I’m going to depart a bit from the norm for this parody of some typical first-time in Spain English Conversation Assistant posts I read. This is all in good fun, though, because I too wrote some blog entries like this in the past (think 2009 or 2010). I hope you enjoy!

- omg no dryers
- spanish people eat, like, really late!
- did y’all know that spanish people have their washers in the kitchen! why is that! i will not spend too much time actually thinking about why that could be; i prefer to just laugh about how crazy that is!
- spanish people are, like, so fashionable!
- i loooooooooooove tinto de verano. and also tapas.
- lol, bidets.
- i just can’t stay out as late as they do!
- omg traveling around europe is so easy!
- i traveled one time, so i can write a post on how to pack your bag properly. i have experience.
- spanish schools teach british english, but lol, they say rubber. dirty word!
- milk doesn’t have to be refrigerated! what is this uht madness!
- spanish bureaucracy is the WORST (of course i have never compared this to my own country’s!)
- i still like tapas.
- i gave in and went to starbucks; i know, i know, a crime! i feel shame, but i promise NEVER to go into a mcdonalds. except when really drunk. but i hope to only have vague memories of that.
- i visited a city, so i now know the top 10 sites to see, i am an expert.
- ham.
- i ate some shrimp and it had eyes. duuuuuuude.
- i am supposed to be teaching english, but i realized i don’t know that much about english. halp!
- post about how much spain has changed me, de verdad, i am a better person and i will become that annoying person back home that always responds with, “well, when i was in Spain”.
- i tried to say peine (spanish for “comb”), but i said pene, and well, my life is basically over.
- i am now fluent in spanish, lol, it only took a year of being in spain but mainly speaking to other american expats! i even dream in spanish, it is true, do try not to be jealous.

Once I got started, I found I couldn’t stop. How my impression of Spain has changed since I first got here, way back in 2008!

How has your perspective on Spain shifted over time?

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Taking the GRE in Madrid

Or How I Took the GRE So You Don’t Have To

Wait … that’s not how it works, is it? Oh well. Yesterday I took the GRE in Madrid. Apparently this is a topic of some interest for fellow expats in Madrid, because I’ve seen several mentions of it on the Facebook groups. I thought I’d let all of you nervous guiris know how it went.

First of all, I went to their website to register. It’s a fairly simple process, and there are loads of test dates, in the morning and in the afternoon. (Actually an American-style afternoon, as my exam started at 1:30 p.m.)

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You choose your city, which for me was Madrid. So if you want to take the GRE in Spain, you have two options: Madrid or Barcelona.

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Search for Madrid, and then click on “Schedule an Appointment.”

There are two places in Madrid to take it, and then you just click on “Check Seat Availability” to find a time and a date. As I said, there’s morning and there’s afternoon. One starts at 9:00 a.m. and the other at 1:30 p.m. Keep in mind that this is a four-and-a-half-hour test, so if you start at 9:00 a.m., you’ll finish around 1:30 p.m., and if you start at 1:30 p.m., you’ll finish at 6:00 p.m.

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After you register with the GRE, you can schedule your appointment!

On Test Day

Read their email very well. You are supposed to get there thirty minutes before your scheduled appointment in order to do some paperwork and all that jazz. This center does other sorts of testing, so there will be people there doing assorted types of exams.

I was scheduled to take the test at Go English Communications, which is located at Avenida de las Filipinas, 1 Bis. To get there, you can take the Metro Line 7 to the stop Islas Filipinas. It’s a short walk from there.

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You should go into the right-hand doors. The center is located on the seventh floor of the building.

Once you get there, you will have to write out (in cursive!) a statement saying you are not doing anything illicit, blah, blah, blah. You sign that, and then you are required to turn off your phone, and put all of your belongings in a locker, except your identity document (passport or NIE will both work).

When they are ready for you, they’ll take you into a second room. There, you have to turn out your pockets so they see they’re empty. Next they scan you with a metal detector! (I have taken the GRE before, in the U.S., and this didn’t happen.) You also have to lift up your pant legs to show you’re not hiding anything there either.

Side note: I was wondering about all this, as it seems a bit extreme for Spain. Mario and I concluded that it might have to do with the cheating culture in Spain, as it is more prevalent here than in the U.S., at least in my experience.

They took my photo with a webcam, which was fun, because I couldn’t figure out where to roll my chair to in order for them to get the “perfect” shot. As I waited, I noticed there were cameras everywhere! Even on me at that very second! Finally, they chose a computer for me and took me to the computer. Once there, I had to confirm the information on the screen was correct, and the exam began.

You get a 10-minute break after Section 2 of the GRE, but you are not allowed to leave the premises, so don’t do it. You are also not allowed to get out your phone or look at any notes. This may seem obvious, but just be careful.

I’m sure that the books and the information you find online can help you to familiarize yourself with how the actual exam is. I just hope to help those of you who, like me, are taking the exam in Spain, and especially Madrid.

If you have any specific questions related to the GRE, please feel free to email me.

Sarah in Spain

Your Spain Experience—Interview with Sarah

Hey everyone! I really liked the response I got to Erin’s interview. (Well, except for one, but when you bring up anything even semi-controversial, I suppose you can expect some of that!) So I decided to reach out to another woman of color in Spain, Sarah. Again, we “met” on Twitter, and she has lived in Valladolid for the past year. Now she’s coming to Madrid! But I’ll let her do the introducing.

Just as an aside to any Spaniards reading: With these interviews, I aim to highlight a different side of Spain and blogging about Spain. In no way am I saying racism here is worse than in the U.S.; it’s just different. And, yes, it exists in Spain as well as the U.S.! The women I have interviewed here like Spain, even love it.

Sarah in Spain

Describe how you first got interested in Spain.

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People Having Babies Travel

What If Your Dream Isn’t Traveling?

Travel bloggers love to talk about travel. And, of course, why shouldn’t they? Their audience is wide: from fellow travelers to wannabes to those who live vicariously through them and their blogs, there are a lot of people who want to read them. While I love reading blogs about Spain, I’m not really into travel blogs as a whole. Why?

My dream isn’t traveling.

I know, you probably think I’m nuts or weird or an oddity. I like traveling, to be certain; I will forever cherish my memories of my trip to see my brother in California or my honeymoon to Italy, but I don’t dream of traveling like some do.

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