Spaniards

So You’re Dating a Spaniard—Annemarie

You’re dating a Spaniard. Ohh girl, what have you done?

No seriously, this series will be ongoing until all the Guiris dating a Spaniard stop, which I hope is never! I’d like to introduce you all to Annemarie.

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Hey! So let us know who you are and what’s up please!

I’m Annemarie, and this will be my second year teaching English in Madrid. I knew I wanted to return to Spain after I spent a semester in college in Valencia. I have an undergraduate degree in international business and economics, and I never thought I would spend time working as a teacher.

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A Foreigner Among Us—Talking to Strangers in Spain

Being a guiri means people in Spain find you curious at times, especially when you show up in unexpected places, like a bus stop in Vallecas. Here are some of my recent encounters with Spaniards who find me just a tiny bit interesting:

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Learning to Live in Spain

Have you all read my interview over on Expats Blog? If not, head on over to read my interview and leave a comment on my profile page if you’re so inclined.

Other people to visit: Erik, Erin, Hamatha, Lauren, Cat, and Christine.

One of the questions I was asked in my interview was “If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?” It’s a difficult question for me, because I’m not one to give advice, at least not without advising you to take whatever I say with a large grain of salt. You see, everyone is different, and I don’t think my experience is the only one, or that you’re like me, or anything of the sort.

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Maybe you don’t like garlic. But why would you come to Spain then?

But when I first came to Spain, to study abroad in Toledo in 2008, I was very unprepared for what was ahead of me. I was excited to travel and to see Europe, but I had no idea how it would be to live in a culture that is like your own but unlike it in so many subtle ways. Perhaps it’s silly for me to say that it might be less shocking to go somewhere in Asia or Africa, because at least then you’d be expecting big culture shocks.

I had to learn to live in another culture, a culture that feels more and more familiar every day, but that will never be truly my own. I had to learn to embrace it for what it is—and not what I wish it could be. I had to learn to stop blaming Spain or Spaniards in general when something went wrong.

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They’re not so bad, Spaniards

Right now I’m tetchy about the numerous and unending strikes—huelgas—in Spain. So far we’ve had three transportation strikes, a general strike, a health-care workers’ strike, and now we’re set for an Iberia (the airline company) strike for Christmastime. I understand that things are tough in Spain right now, but messing with my Christmas plans? Understandably, I’m irked. Everyone needs to be home for Christmas (if they want to), am I right?

Before this year, I would have readily and easily placed the blame on Spain or Spaniards in general, forgetting that many Spaniards don’t agree with the strikes and dislike them as much as I do. In the past, I would have let that negativity overwhelm me and color my view of Spain for a good long time. But this year, this year I’m trying something new and difficult: not placing the big bad blame on Spain. Someone’s to blame, sure. But nothing bad has even happened yet!

Learning to live in another country is easy for some, not so easy for others (me). It has taken me four years, but I’m finally getting the message: you’re in Spain, Spain’s not home, and that’s just fine. Take it as it is. After all, we all know: Spain is different.

How to Annoy a Spaniard

After seeing the posts on Matador about How to Piss off a German/Chilean/Italian/Dane, Mario told me I needed to write one about Spaniards. I’m a bit hesitant because writing this post could possibly piss (some of) them off. I’m a much bigger fan of making them think I’m awesome, so … you’ll understand my hesitance. Nonetheless, as I wrote it, I found that in the end it was really a complimentary post. Read on; perhaps you’ll see why.

  • Tell them you prefer the food in the States/England/your home country. Spaniards are immensely proud of their cuisine—and rightfully so. Spanish food is awesome, and I miss it when I’m not here. There’s nothing than can replace my suegra’s cooking. She makes the best lentejas (lentil stew), tortilla de patata (Spanish potato omelette), homemade mayonnaise, pan de queso (cheese bread), carne guisada (a kind of roast meat), pisto (similar to ratatouille, but better), etc. I can’t say enough good things. But still. Sometimes I prefer the States, simply because of the variety. There’s spicy food! There’s spices to buy in bulk, like garam masala and star anise. There’s brown sugar! There’s Thai / Indian / Afghani / Tibetan / Vietnamese—and this is all in my college town of Bloomington. So avoid it. Their food is better (and honestly, it is divine).r_lentejas_s31340053_01

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  • Refer to American football as just football. Mario loves to joke about this—”Why should it be called football when they just kick the ball when they … punt, you call it? In real football, the players use their feet all the time.” He doesn’t get pissed off, but he’s very hard to piss off, I’ll admit.
  • Tell them soccer is boring. I personally do not believe soccer is boring. It can be boring, and I do prefer basketball (duh!), but I’ve heard many of my countrymen say this. I recommend not saying this in front of any big Spanish soccer fan, at least not without some caveats about how you are an idiot and your opinions don’t matter.

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  • Prance around in sweatpants. Sweatpants are perfectly acceptable—in your own home. Outside on the streets? Not unless you’re going to the gym, mister. Also, tennis shoes (or trainers or sneakers) probably shouldn’t be worn unless your circumstances fit into the above-described ones. Mario’s mother recently saw him on the street wearing (what I thought were normal, decent-looking) pants and tennis shoes—and let’s just say she was less than pleased. She urged Mario to throw away the pants, pants I found perfectly normal looking. I just don’t get it, I suppose.
  • Insist that cold weather doesn’t cause colds. Even if the research shows differently, Many Spaniards (including my dear suegra) will insist that many weather-related things cause you to “coger frío,” including: not wearing adequate clothing in the winter (sweaters, scarves), drastic temperature changes, drinking cold water in the winter, etc. There is no point in insisting that viruses cause colds, not cold weather. Just wear your scarf, damn it! Cold water is for summer.
  • Insist on subtitles instead of dubbing when watching a movie on television. Spaniards are very used to dubbing. In contrast, I’ve watched very few movies dubbed into English, and, honestly, I hated them. I prefer subtitles, and I don’t mind “reading” the movie, as some see it. But in Spain, almost every movie is subtitled and so are many TV shows—unless, of course, they’re made in Spain. But there are a lot of American movies and TV shows here. In fact, The Simpsons are much more popular here than in the States.

I want to reiterate that this post is all in good fun … but what would you add?