2012: The Year Everything Changed

Change often comes in small, incremental pieces—a new haircut, a five-pound weight loss, new decorations, the leaves falling slowly off the trees in autumn. It happens so that you barely notice it. That is until you look back and consider where you were twelve months ago and where you are now.

Twelve months ago, I was in the same place I’m at now: my parents’ house in Indiana, my childhood home. But twelve months ago I was in a completely different place, figuratively speaking.

In 2012, Mario got a job, and we decided we were moving to Madrid.

All that studying paid off

In 2012, I lived in Zamora for three months while preparing for our wedding.





In 2012, my parents, brother, and sister(-in-law) went to Spain to visit for one very special occasion.


In 2012, it went from “I” to “we.”




In 2012, we went on our honeymoon. To Venice, Florence, and Rome.


In 2012, my brother got married to Colleen.



In 2012, we moved to Madrid.

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In 2012, we attended several other couples’ weddings.

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In 2012, I got a job teaching English to sixth graders and found it was a wonderful age.


In 2012, I met American women in Madrid, and some of them were married to Spaniards.

In 2012, Mario and I visited Sevilla and Córdoba.

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In 2012, I came home for Christmas and realized that Spain may be where I live, but Indiana is my home.

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2012: The Year Everything Changed. How was 2012 for you?


La Ofi


Ah, la oficina—the office. So many of my fellow Americans come to Spain, desiring to escape the droll forty-hour workweek. They’re so brave. Or not. I can’t help but feel a bit of disdain for those who travel and blog, urging their readers to “Leave it all behind!”

Americans often idealize the European lifestyle, thinking that they just “get it,” because they work fewer hours, pay higher taxes, and enjoy greater health-insurance benefits. It’s not always true. For the most part, the eight-hour workday is quite common in the United States, and a few more hours aren’t so bad in the end. In Spain, the country of sun and siesta, you would expect fewer hours, more enjoyment, and a somewhat less stressful workplace. You’d be wrong.

I’d like to use a rather personal example. My husband, Mario, works at a fairly typical Spanish office in Madrid. He’s the hardest worker I know, so I don’t expect anything less of him, but he often goes in at 9:30 or 10 a.m. and leaves around 10 p.m. He arrived home at 12 a.m. two weeks ago, though, and he’s arrived at 11 p.m. more than once. It’s not atypical. He doesn’t complain, but there’s no question that this type of schedule is stressful. No matter if your job is easy or not, staying at the office for a full twelve hours isn’t healthy or fun.


Especially not if these people are your coworkers

Mario is not the exception; he’s the rule. We have another friend, a Spanish woman, who works for a national company. Having worked in another country for many years, she returned to Spain to be a big boss and earn the big bucks. That she does, but she also is under a lot of stress and works more hours than seems humanly possible.

I realize that this is all anecdotal evidence, that I’ve yet to cite proven statistics. But Mario and I, along with other friends, have formed a sort of hypothesis—Spain lacks work, yes. But the work it does have is quite poorly distributed. Those who do have a job work twelve-hour days, while those who don’t spend months and years earning nothing. Maybe they should hire more eight-hour-shift workers. Maybe then the burnout rate would drop dramatically. Who knows?

What about the Spaniards you know (maybe disregarding funcionarios)? Do they work too much?

From Castellano to Mexicano

I’m starting a new job fairly soon. I’ll be teaching English. (Wait, again?) This time, though, it won’t be to surly, unwilling Spanish high school students, but to hyperactive elementary school children, mainly from Mexico. As a part of my job, I also work as the school liaison to the Spanish-speaking community.

Hopefully, my translating skills are at least better than that.

This Monday, as a part of my job, I worked for new student registration. My principal had asked me to do so, just in case any families came that couldn’t speak English. Only one did, but I soon realized I am very Spanish in my Spanish. (Confused yet?)

You see, in high school, they taught us Mexican / South American Spanish. So, when I went to Spain in the first time (2008), I had a lot to learn. After having spent a long stretch of time there, as well as having a Spanish boyfriend, my Spanish has been transformed. I speak Spain Spanish. While talking to this mother and her little boy, I tried (if somewhat unsuccessfully) to speak Mexicano and not Castellano (Spain Spanish). No go.


Here’s how I know:

  • I use vosotros all the time. I like it; it’s useful; why don’t Mexicans use it? It makes no sense.
  • Ceceo. It’s not a lisp, and I hate it when people make fun of others for using. That’s how it’s done in Spain. It’s not being pretentious to mimic their accents. It’s how you sound good, near native. I don’t think it’s odd when non-native speakers mimic American accents if they live in the U.S. or English ones if they live there. It’s just what you do.
  • Leísmo. This one I know is grammatically incorrect, but when I hear people doing it daily, it’s hard not to mimic. (If you don’t know Spanish at all, you probably won’t get this.) Le veo…wrong, but oh so right (at least in Spain).
  • Coger. That word is another example of extreme usefulness. Coger el bus, coger una idea, coger una cosa. In Spanish, they mean get, catch, capture…in Latin American, the F-word. Yeah, so I’m going to try desperately to avoid using that one. Ever.
  • La jota. The J in Spain Spanish is very strong. I loved it when my students would pronounce ham like chhhhammmm (like in Chanukah – you have to haaack when you say it!). I tend to overdo it, even in Spain, so imagine what my hacking sounds to Mexicans. Ha.
I am trying to remember that people won’t necessarily think I’m weird/snobby for speaking this way. It’s a habit. A very ingrained one. Wish me luck!