Spain

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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Hotel Posada del Valle in Asturias, Spain

Recently we went to Asturias, and we were looking for somewhere to stay. I found this hotel by happenstance, as someone tweeted a link to a New York Times article about it. They said it was like you were living in a cloud, and I thought, Okay. We’re going. I mean, who doesn’t want to live on a cloud?

We drove there from a nearby village, Ribadesella. At first I thought I had made some terrible mistake, as the roads were tortuous and there was a steep drop off to the valley far, far below. When we got there, it was nighttime, pitch black and with very little lights, as we were in the middle of nowhere. (Basically.) The driveway that lead down to the house was also a huge hill, and I was a bit apprehensive about driving down that hill, even if I wasn’t the one driving. But sometimes you just have to bite the bullet, and so we did.

This hotel, which cost a total of €60 for one night, was the loveliest place I’ve stayed in. Seriously. 100% the best place. It’s run by a British expat couple, who (I think) live nearby. It’s on an 18-acre organic farm with animals and such, including the sheep native to Asturias, the xalda sheep. They are interesting.

Oveja Xalda

 

The building was originally a priest’s farmhouse and was constructed in the 19th century. The owners bought it in 1995 and converted it into what it is today. Downstairs there’s a small bar area and a fireplace. The owners, Nigel and Joan, have written up walking routes that can take you all over the region, with varying levels of difficulty and time. They always point out the best place to get refreshments if need be!

The hotel has a restaurant, in which they serve local, organic food and wine. The menu changes daily. We chose to have dinner at the restaurant. On that day’s menu was a salad bar, a carrot-ginger soup, and a choice of a vegetarian or non-vegetarian entrée. I chose the vegetarian, which was a moussaka, and Mario got the roasted red peppers stuffed with hake (merluza). We ordered an organic white wine, and soon realized that the other two couples were British! It seems that this is a popular hotel choice for British people, which makes sense, as there aren’t as many English speakers deep in the heart of Asturias as there are in the big cities and on the coast.

After dinner, we relaxed with a copa on the terrace. Nigel set us up with a candle and offered us a blanket. It was wonderful to see the stars, as in Madrid the light pollution makes this impossible. There was very little going on, but it was the most peaceful night.

The next morning at breakfast was no different. In Spain, it’s common to have a pretty delicious breakfast spread. (Do not talk to me about U.S. hotels and their “continental” breakfasts.) Hotel Posada del Valle had the highest-quality breakfast I’ve had in Spain. There was the organic apple juice, made from apples picked nearby. We enjoyed two types of homemade bread with honey and butter. There was muffins made from various fruits, including kiwi, which I found delightful. And as we breakfasted, we saw the mist in the valley slowly rise to the mountaintop. The saying goes, “Niebla en el valle montañero a la calle; niebla en la cumbre montañero a la lumbre.” (Fog in the valley, mountaineer hit the road; fog at the summit, mountaineer stay at home by the fire.) It was a good day to be climbing! We had other plans, but we stopped to take some photos of the place.

IMG_5320IMG_5323

If you go to Asturias with a car, consider staying here, especially in the off season. You can’t beat the prices or the surroundings!

http://www.posadadelvalle.com/
HOTEL LA POSADA DEL VALLE
Collía, Arriondas, 33549 Asturias Spain
Telephone: 00 34 985 84 11 57

Ever been to Asturias? What was your favorite place?

The Curious Case of Francisco Nicolás

Imagine a twenty year-old kid, a kid from some small town in the Midwest, say. Say that he’s studying at Georgetown University Imagine this kid has grandiose visions of himself. And so he finds a way to pretend he’s a VIP—a CIA agent, the godson of Nancy Pelosi or former President Clinton. Maybe he even tries to scam some people out of a considerable amount of money.

Well, something like this did happen in Spain. Recently, it came to light that a young man now referred to as Pequeño Nicolás (Little Nicholas) has forged official documents, pretended to know and advise senior Spanish officials, and told people he was an agent of Spain’s version of the CIA, the CNI.

Of course, Spaniards have had a field day with this. The memes are rather hilarious, especially if you understand a bit about Spanish culture.

(more…)

So You’re Dating a Spaniard—Ashley

So today we have something a little bit different … A Canadian dating a Spaniard! A bit of a change from all of us Americans who just love our Spaniards, but I think we’ll accept her into the group.

I’m Ashley, a 23 year-old Canadian currently living in Castro-Urdiales (Cantabria). I arrived in Spain about a month ago to begin my first year as an English language assistant at a high school. I applied for this program because my boyfriend and I had begun running out of options to stay together as an international couple. And, of course, if we have to choose I think I would pick a mild Spanish winter over a Canadian one anyway!

Canadian Dating Spaniard

How did you meet your significant other?

Borja and I celebrated three years together this past July. We met in June 2011 at the sushi restaurant in central London where we both worked (I was spending the summer there working while on a youth mobility visa and Borja had left Spain some months before to learn English). Somehow, because I didn’t speak any Spanish and Borja spoke only basic English, we clicked and quickly became friends. We found out not long after meeting that we lived about a 15-minute walk from one another- which is nearly unheard of in London- so we began to spend more time together. By the time I was preparing to leave a few months later we had started to make plans for him to visit me in Canada.

Do you feel that your significant other is a “typical” Spaniard?

I think when we first met three years ago Borja was much more of a “typical” Spaniard than he is now. In the time that we have been together I have found that he has changed; he has travelled, improved his second language, lived abroad and grown from it. But I still find him very Spanish despite these changes, especially now that we’re back in Spain! Borja loves good Spanish food, especially the cured meats and old cheeses that are so popular here, and is so happy to have bread with every meal (something he really missed when we lived in Canada). Like any Spaniard he loves to go out and party, and it’s difficult to tear him away from the television when the football match is on! I’m also reminded of the “typical Spanish expressions” that Borja loves to tell me, so if in nothing else he is certainly Spanish in his use of Spanish idioms and sayings.

Canadian Dating Spaniard

Which language do you speak when you’re together?

When we’re together we mainly speak Spanish. I would say 80-percent Spanish and 20-percent English. This is a decision we made quite some time ago to help me improve my Spanish. Borja had already begun to study English when we met and his language skills have improved threefold. I, on the other hand, didn’t speak any Spanish and had to start from the beginning. Three years on and we speak Spanish at home. I’m very glad we made that decision because now I’m comfortable speaking Spanish in just about any situation.

Good for you! How do you deal with the “in-law” issue?

This is a fun question! I first meet Yolanda and José Luis just a few months after meeting Borja. He left Canada to go home for Christmas and I decided to follow for a two-week vacation. I arrived there speaking no more than 3 or 4 sentences in Spanish (and understanding nothing) and they spoke no English. In those three weeks I learned just how warm they truly are. Since that first visit I have spent a summer living with them and have had many visits. I love them both so much and am relieved that Borja has such great parents!

That is so great! I too have great in-laws. What is the best part about dating a foreigner (and especially a Spaniard)?

I think the best part about dating a foreigner is that every day is an adventure. Even after three years together that hasn’t ceased to be true and we have a lot of fun together. Dating a Spaniard is really fantastic. Spanish people are kind and open and, sometimes, quite fiery. Borja also has these characteristics and it makes for a change. He’s definitely different from many of the Canadian guys that I have dated and it’s refreshing to experience. Another great thing about dating a Spaniard is that Spanish people are so relaxed, they are never in a huge rush to do anything; Borja and I pair well because I have endless energy and I always want to be on the move, his relaxed nature means he rolls with my many wild ideas without much complaint.

What is the most difficult part?

In the beginning the most difficult part was expressing our feelings to one another. Having a limited vocabulary in your partner’s first language some times made it difficult to understand what the other wanted to say/how they felt.

Now, I think the most difficult part is the uncertainty of the future. This usually doesn’t factor into our daily thoughts, but every now and again someone will ask us about our future plans and we’re reminded that we don’t really have any. We haven’t made any concrete plans, other than to be together. After three years we have considered all of our possibilities and try to do our best to plan well for our future, especially since the immigration process can be so trying.

What advice would you give someone who is considering starting a relationship with a Spaniard?

I would say go for it! Jump in head first, because only through being open and eager will you find a happy relationship. Remind yourself that there may be difficulties, but difficulties exist in any relationship. And prepare for an adventure because dating a Spaniard is just that!

I love the idea of it being an adventure. Do you plan on living in the Canada or in Spain long term?

I love Canada deeply and a part of me will always be there, but Spain is the long-term plan for us. It is easier for me to get residence in Spain, than it is for Borja in Canada. Just through officially registering ourselves as a common law couple I am able to get 5 years residence in Spain, meaning I can work here legally (outside of the language assistants program if I choose to), and would have access to the same health care as Borja has. Things are much more complicated in Canada and the process is much longer. As well, we’ve chosen Spain for the long term for the life style here. People in Spain work to live, not live to work and we really prefer that sort of lifestyle to the one we felt we had been living back in Canada.

Canadian Dating Spaniard

If you could import something from the Canada to Spain (and vice versa), what would it be?

Can I have two things? My little sister and my doggy without a doubt! Sometimes I start to think about how much I miss them both and I begin to doubt my reasons for leaving Canada. I know I’ve made the right decision for the place I am at right now and for my relationship with Borja, but it’s still difficult to be so far away from them. And since flights to Canada are so expensive, I couldn’t ever take a short week visit just because I feel like I need a visit.

Something from Spain that I would send to Canada would be the hot Spanish sun. My friends and family sure could use some rays in the middle of February!

How has being in a relationship with a Spaniard changed you?

It’s made me happier, without a doubt! Dating a Spaniard has also given me a better appreciation for other cultures and ways of life. Seeing how Borja lives in Spain and letting me be a part of that has shown me that what I may have accepted as different before isn’t so different after all.

Canadian Dating Spaniard

Thank you so much for your interview, Ashley! You two make a great couple. If you want to check out her blog, she blogs at Cómo Perderse en España.

Interested in being a part of my Dating a Spaniard series? Email me; I’d love to have you!