Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in review

It's been another good year filled with good memories,good friends and trips to new places. It was also the first time I was in Spain for an entire year without taking a trip back to the US. I'm having a hard time believing that I am heading into another year of living in Madrid. 2011 has brought changes to my life in the form of a new job and a new piso. Let's take a look at some of the highlights. 

The new year came with new resolutions from being fit to using groupon. I also ate a delicious (but gassy) dish alubias with some of Alberto's closest friends. 

A trip to both Bernabeu and the Basque country to visit my good friend Kit!

March was a fabulous month which took me to 2 new places: Morocco with Alberto and Edinburgh to visit my brother Jack! Both beautiful and very different places, I loved them both!

April was another month filled with trips thanks to Easter break called Semana Santa in Spanish. This time my travels took me to Berlin and Prague, two of the most memorable cities I've visited. 

 As I decided to stay in Spain another year, Spanish youth decided to exercise their right to protest by taking over Sol in the 15-M movement. Although their encampment proved to be exciting but ultimately futile, they caused a lot of controversy and debate in the country.


In June I finished my job at Andres Segovia and exchanged tearful goodbyes with my co-workers and students. I took a trip to Asturias, my brother Sam came to visit and I went to my first Spanish wedding!

In July I started my summer job teaching english at Forenex. I worked hard, made friends and even met the couple from Love & Paella.

I tried to not die of heat exhaustion in Madrid, worked on a farm, and took a trip to London! 

I started my new job at Colegio Vegasur and celebrated my 2 year expat-anniversary in Spain! 

 I didn't celebrate Halloween for the first time ever but I did get to celebrate my 2 year anniversary with Alberto!

 I traveled to Galicia and Santander and my 6 year old UNC laptop officially died. Oh and another Spanish wedding. 

I went to the craziest Christmas dinner with my co-workers and finally stepped back on to US soil for the holidays. I'm so happy to be home and am looking forward to another great year!
Bring it on 2012!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Felices Fiestas!

Merry Christmas to all my lovely readers! Sorry to not be posting very often but I am without a laptop and have limited internet connection. So New Year's resolution...more posting! I promise to keep up more with this blog! Until then have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I've got my eye on you America

Today is December 1st, throwing my days at school into a whirlwind of Christmas carols, crafts, and craziness. As I sing ¨Jingle Bells¨for the upteenth time to 3 year olds in hopes that they will be able to sing it to their parents, I am counting down the days to go back home. It has been almost a year since I set foot in mi tierra and I am really excited. What am I looking forward to? Its probably obvious but I'm going to write about it anyway. 

1. My family: To tell the truth, I think one of the things I'm looking forward to is getting the welcome back hug from my mom and dad at the airport. I haven't seen my brothers in 6 months and I can't wait to hang out with them. Thanksgiving is a holiday that I have learned to celebrate abroad but Christmas I have a hard time imagining outside of the US.

2. Food: Mexican, Sushi, decent Chinese, mom's cooking, Vietnamese, pancake breakfasts, BAGELS. The list goes on and on... I'm expecting to put on some kilos this Christmas. 
Mmmmmmmmmmm, drooling right now

3. North Cackalacky: It's my home state and I miss it like crazy. One of the PE teachers at school wore his Michael Jordan UNC jersey and it almost brought tears to my eyes. The leaves changing in the fall, the mountains and the beach, the Tarheels! It will be great to be back in my hometown. 

Coming up... a Spanish Christmas. Lottery, bad pastries, and jamon oh my!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Spanish wedding: parte dos

I promised more photos of Spanish wedding fashion and here they are! 

Lovely ladies at the wedding!
 The beautiful bride, Amaya. It's a little blurry because it was raining and dark at 6pm haha. 
My Spanish wedding guest fashion. Did it make the cut? I think so... all of Alberto's girlfriends really liked it! (and I did too)
The survivors of the night, shutting down the bars in Burgos at 7 am. Que vivan los novios!

Diosssssss I love Spanish weddings. 

Travel Spotlight: Northern Spain

Over the recent long weekend or puente I had the opportunity to see a little part of Galicia and Cantabria, two provinces in the north of Spain. The north of Spain never ceases to amaze me because it is so different from the center and south of Spain. Like something out of Ireland, its full of a lush green landscape and georgeous beaches. I don't feel much like writing today so I'll let the pictures do the talking.
Playa de las Catedrales, Galicia

Playa de las Catedrales, Galicia

Vegadeo, Asturias

Playa de las Catedrales, Galicia

Playa de las Catedrales, Galicia

Playa de las Catedrales, Galicia

Mussels, Galicia

Santander, Cantabria

Santillana del Mar, Cantabria

Comillas, Cantabria
San Vicente de la Barquera, Cantabria

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Politics baby

Right now, its election time in Spain. Although elections generally get a lot of public attention no matter what country you're in (and even more in the US). However, with 5 million people unemployed and one of the worst economies in the EU, elections are kind of a big deal this year.  

Here in Spain the parties are not allowed to campaign until 2 weeks before the elections which is actually pretty refreshing. Elections will be November 20th and last Monday the ONLY debate in the entire campaign took place. It was between the 2 candidates for the 2 major Spanish parties. First up there is the incumbent party, PSOE(otherwise known as the socialist party). Things aren't looking so good for PSOE seeing as they have been in power for the entirety of la crisis and many people blame them for how bad the situation has gotten. The man that's stepping up to the plate is Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba. 
He's got quite a job trying to win the election and most people (myself included) think that PSOE is on its way out. While I can't blame Spaniards for wanting a change in party, I think the economic crisis runs much deeper. 

The other major party is the more conservative Partido Popular or PP. Their candidate is Mariano Rajoy and they are almost certain to win by a landslide.  
On Monday, both candidates met for a simple debate about the economy, public healthcare and education, and the state of the country. While it was a little on the boring side and Rajoy hardly looked up from his notes, (many times I got lost/zoned out for one minute and had no idea what they were talking about), it was nice to have a debate without all the hype and glitz. Only one week until elections and people are very excited to vote this year. I guess that's one good part about being in an economic crisis.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How to dress for a Spanish wedding

I know you are dying to know right? I have the priveledge to be invited to a second Spanish wedding so I can give you the 411 on how to look your best. For first wedding I went to back in June I was very nervous to see what people would wear and if my guiri-ness would be on full display. It was a summer wedding so I was expecting sun dresses with some people who would be more dressy than others. But Spanish fashion is a fickle friend and I felt like I was at the prom rather than a summer wedding. This is what I wore:
 A dress that I thought was pretty normal and appropriate for a summer wedding. However, I felt almost underdressed. Let's check out what else to wear to a Spanish wedding:

Exhibit A: The sevillana look. 
This young lady was dressed to the nines complete with a fascinator and a skirt that was completely made of fringe (unfortunately you can't see it). Yes you read that right...fringe. I guess its advantages are that it moves well on the dance floor?
Exhibit B: The flapper look.
Check out those ruffles...and that lace. Nuff' said. 

 Exhibit C: Casino showgirl look. 
My personal favorite, she caught my eye with a dress made entirely of sequins. Oooohhh shiiiiiiiiiiiny. 
Exhibit D: The Geisha look. 
You can't see the full glory of this one but it's exotic and shiny...woo!
Exhibit E: Middle-school dance look. 
When I saw this all I could think about was the what I wore to the Spring Fling in the 8th grade. And what you see at JC Penny's on clearance after prom. A classic look really. 
And finally Exhibit F: The Jungle Fever look. 
A floor length dress that doubles for a wedding and for camoflauge in the Amazon. Awesome!
Ok, ok I might be poking a little too much fun at the Espanish but seriously it was all I could do to not laugh at some of the fashion at the wedding. I can't wait to see what people wear to this one although you'll have to wait to see what I wear! 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My other anniversary

Last month I celebrated  my 2 year expat-versary with Spain but this weekend I celebrate another anniversary...this one with the novio. Finding a boyfriend was about the last thing I wanted when I first moved to Spain, but it has made my 2 years here so much richer. 

I don't write about him all the time but he has definitely had a huge impact on my experience and my life in Madrid. Yes, sometimes being in a relationship where you speak to the other person in not your native language sucks but today I'm going to celebrate all the really amazing things about it too. 

Cutting the crap: Although communicating with Alberto can sometimes be frustrating a lot of times it makes the relationship a lot more simple. Magazines like Cosmopolitan are always writing articles about how to "win" or avoid the mind games couples tend to play. Well let me tell you, in Spanish this is not possible for me. My goal is to try to get my point across in a intelligible and simple way and not complicarme la vida by figuring out some hidden meaning in what Alberto says to me. 

Seeing a different side of Spain: I have mentioned this before in my post about enchufes but Alberto has really shown me a different side of Spain. Yes you can see a lot of Spain and learn about its culture through travel, but getting to do things like go to weddings or eat Alubias with him and his friends have shown me so much about Spain and Spaniards. It makes me love Spain even more! 

A bilingual and bicultural relationship: Many of my fellow ex-pats dating Spaniards will agree that the best way to learn a language is date someone who is a native. This couldn't be more true, I have learned and improved SO much more on my Spanish than I ever thought possible because of Alberto. I can talk to him and ask him questions without ever feeling ashamed or embarassed of my accent or the bazillon mistakes I make a day. Its given me a confidence that I would have never thought to have speaking a foreign langauge. 

But the coolest thing has been to be able to exchange stories and weird things about growing up in different cultures. I learn so much about Spain (and hopefully Alberto about the US) just by listening to him talk about what he did as a kid or in college. And I love being able to share my culture with him through stories, pictures and of! (gotta show off that southern cookin'!) 

Its been 2 amazing years and here's to lots more!