expat

What Do You Miss Most?

You know how, when asked to list what we miss about ourrespective countries, expats always say “friends and family”? It’s true, of course, that we (mostly) all miss those nearest and dearest to ous who happen to live thousands of miles away, but it’s also kind of a cop out. I mean, I know I use it that way. Just in case someone decides to get offended by what I miss, whether it be customer service (Don’t generalize) or people actually saying excuse me when they bump into you on the street or in the supermarket. Those are two things I do miss, but I don’t say them a lot for fear of being seen as one of “those expats”—my worst expat fear, being one of “them.” Not really, but it’s up there.

With that said, can I just say that, even though I chose this life, sometimes I wish I could just get all of the people I love and keep them in one place? Yeah, that would be nice. Unfortunately, it’s rather difficult to do when you have a Spanish husband, Spanish in-laws, Spanish cousins, and Spanish friends who all live in … yep, Spain. But last summer I got to have my in-laws visit Indiana and Chicago, and it was a magical experience. There’s some photos I’ve not really shared, so I’d like to do a throwback Monday and remember! Throwback Monday may not be a thing on Instagram, but it’s a thing now on Y Mucho Más, so just roll with it.

IMG_0570 IMG_0595Spanish-American Family

IMG_0606With my brother and sister-in-law

IMG_0616 IMG_0617 IMG_0709Bloomington/College Friends

IMG_0712Since we’re in the U.S., of course we had to eat Mexican food

IMG_0718Don’t deny it—my FIL is cuter than yours

IMG_0722Taught them a real “Indianer” game—cornhole. Do not call it “bags” to me

IMG_0757Hilary and Kanyi don’t care about this explanation

IMG_0759Learning about IU’s legends—if you kiss here at midnight, you’ll get married. Oops, already did that!

IMG_0761 IMG_0777 IMG_0787Colleen is funny

IMG_0798 IMG_0805 IMG_0833At Assembly Hall … We sneaked in

IMG_0834 IMG_0841 IMG_0849The dads

IMG_0902Exploring downtown Indianapolis

IMG_0942Mounds State Park

IMG_0945I love him!

About these ads

Top 10 Things I Miss from Spain When I’m in the USA

So if you’re still unaware, I’m back in Indiana. Teachers have great vacations, and I’m enjoying a life of air-conditioned luxury at my parents’. I will also be attending an old friend’s wedding, visiting my alma mater, and heading out to Nevada to visit my brother at the end of July. All in all, not bad.

I love being back home. I will admit to anyone that I love Spain (especially Castilla y León), but home is home and always will be. Nonetheless, there are many things I miss about Spain while I’m here. In no specific order, here they are.

1. Walking

Who knew that walking would make a list? Of course, I can walk here too. We have a great trail behind our house, and I could walk to my heart’s content. What I’m talking about is walking to actually get somewhere. In Spain, even in Madrid, we walk to get to a lot of places. The grocery store, to buy bread, to see friends … There is just something nice about not having to hop in a car to go pick up some eggs.

2. The outdoor lifestyle

Once May rolls around, it seems that all of Spain hit the streets. Restaurants and cafés start putting out tables and umbrellas, and people seem to spend a good two hours sipping on cañas whilst chatting up friends. I love sitting outdoors when the heat hasn’t reached overly suffocating levels, and even though I’ll never be a fan of Mahou, I don’t mind it ice cold and accompanied by some free tapas.

3. Wine

IMG_0916

Wine is so expensive here! It has something to do with taxes, but sheesh. In Zamora, I can get a decent glass of wine for around €1.30. In Madrid, let’s say €3. Here? That’ll cost you around $9. Yep, nine bucks! It’s probably not even that great of wine either. (Apparently I’m a wine snob now too. My sincerest apologies.)

4. Fruterías

I had to write this in Spanish, because the idea just doesn’t exist here in small-town Indiana, except if we had to a farmer’s market, which is something else entirely. Fruterías sell fruit and vegetables, often along with other small items like olives, maybe eggs, and other things along that line. They generally have better quality produce than that found in the supermarket, along with greater variety. They sell some things, like tomatoes, year round, while others have to be in season (see: cherries). Some of these fruit shops are serve-yourself places, while in others you have to ask for what you want. At a traditional market, you line up by asking who’s the last person in line, and wait until they’re finished so that you can have a turn.

5. The fiestas

Fiesta Vendimia Toro

I don’t necessarily mean parties. I mean each town’s fiestas, their yearly festival days. Every town, village, and city has them. In Madrid, for instance, it’s San Isidro. It’s just fun to see how each little town celebrates. There is always a traditional food, often a sweet, which is eaten on that day. For San Isidro, they eat rosquillas de San Isidro.

6. Food in general

It’s my inner fat kid talking, but … ummmmm, food! There are so many foods here that I just love. Let’s start off with my #1: homemade salchichón from my in-laws, who really know what they’re doing. No thanks, I don’t want fuet, give me salchichón any day. Also, cured sheep’s milk cheese from Zamora, which you could probably find here in the USA, but it would marked up to sky-high prices. Honorable mentions: Campo Real olives (called aceitunas pardas in Zamora), homemade chorizo, salmorejo, lentejas.

7. Architecture

IMG_0240

I love Zamora, in part because I love its Romanesque buildings and architecture. There is just nothing like knowing you’re seeing something built in the 13th century. We were married in a church built in the 11th century! That’s way older than our country. My favorite styles are Romanesque (see: Zamora, Segovia) and Gothic (see: Toledo, Burgos, León).

8. Learning Spanish daily

I complain about this sometimes, because me da pereza, but there’s something to be said about learning something new every day. Mario is a constant source of information. I watch the news in Spanish when I can, read the news online, and hear Spanish all around me. (I don’t live in an area with a lot of foreigners.) As they say in Spain: Nunca te acostarás sin saber una cosa más (You’ll never go to bed without having learned something new).

9. Public transportation

Madrid’s public transportation system is top notch. It could be improved, of course, and it’s a bit more expensive nowadays than a few years ago, but for a guiri like me, it’s amazing. There are so many ways to get around: buses, the metro, short-distance trains, medium-distance trains, long-distance trains. All of it is incredibly efficient for the amount of different types. You can go to a website to see when the next bus will reach your stop. The metro comes every two to three minutes in the morning, at rush hour.

10. My Spanish friends and family

IMG_0777From their visit to the USA in 2013

What kind of person would I be if I didn’t say this? My Spanish family has taken me in as one of their own. Mario’s godmother and cousin refers to me as prima (cousin). My father-in-law has taken up English, and he’s getting pretty good at it! M mother-in-law is an amazing cook and the prototypical Spanish madre. Everyone treats me phenomenally. And of course Mario is the best of them all! I won’t brag on him too much, though—just know he’s el mejor.

What things do you like most about living in Spain or which things do you miss now that you no longer live there?

Some Days I Hate Speaking Spanish

Honest post ahead:

In high school and college, speaking Spanish was a ton of fun! I didn’t have “off days,” I didn’t feel bad about my accent, and I never felt self-conscious! I thought I was pretty darn good at Spanish too. (In truth, I wasn’t half bad.)

That all changed when I first set foot in Spain in 2008. Suddenly, I realized I didn’t understand a lot of things. I got nervous when people gave me directions, nodding stupidly, and hoping they wouldn’t notice when I walked off in a direction opposite to the one in which they had told me to go. Vale became my favorite, end-the-conversation-NOW word. Every so often, a Spaniard would compliment my English, but I knew they were lying. They just had to be!

Slowly, through my years in Spain, I grew more confident in my abilities. I learned so many new words, phrases, and ways of speaking. My Spanish family is sometimes delighted when I say things like, ” … que no veas,” as though what I said was, indeed, la leche. There are good days, days when the words flow, and people don’t have to wait for me to spit out the word vitrocerámica (why can’t we just call it a fogón?). These days are when I feel most competent and fluent, the days I like (sometimes even love!) speaking castellano.

(more…)