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! 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Making Madrid new and funky

 Inspired by fellow blogger and advice-giver Cat from Sunshine and Siestas, I have been trying to make Madrid a new city. This is my third year in the city and while I'm glad I'm not in the study abroad state  mind, I also don't want  fall into a rut. Living here is an amazing opportunity and since I don't know when I'll go back to the USA I feel I should aprovechar every day. So in trying to make Madrid a "new city" I decided to do something different. Duh duh duhhhhhhh...sign up for a funky class!

What is funky you ask? It's a style of dance that is best described as what you see in music videos. It helps me become one step closer to being Beyonce (ie my idol) and is something different to do. I love to dance so what the heck. I showed up to class in workout gear thinking I'm going to break a sweat but once again looked like a guiri (foreigner) by wearing excercise clothes to a dance class. Siiiiiiiigh. Of course, in a Spanish dance class you wear anything but. That includes: jeans, shoes that aren't sneakers, unsupportive bras, and a variety of other things. Anyway, I was nervous that in a dance class I would be a little lost or not understand but surprisingly its gone really well. All though I think I have more rhythm than the average white girl, class is harrrrrrrrrrrrrrrd. The moves are always changing and they go by really fast. But I love it because it challenges me and is a different excercise from ultimate frisbee. And our instructor puts on Boyz II Men for our cool down stretches everytime. YESSSSSSSSS! 

Although its something small, it makes my Mondays much better and I feel like I'm taking advantage of a different part of the city. And the fact that I do something I haven't ever thought to do in a different country and different language sometimes really amazes me. I don't want to sound pretentious, but it surprises me when I think about my daily life and realize that I find it normal to do things in a different language. It's truely amazing. And I was chatting to some of the girls in class so who knows, maybe I'll make a friend! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The mighty tortilla

What do you think of when you think of the national dish of Spain? I'm going to take a guess and say it probably features some form of paella and sangria right? Although paella is a well known dish, I hardly ever eat it. So what else is there? Well the cured jamon is always amazing and the cheeses are nothing to be sneezed at but there is something delicious and deceptively tortilla española. I would have to argue that it is one of Spain's national dishes. 
Maybe you have heard of it, maybe you haven't. Well its delicious and mostly easy to make...I still have problems to dar la vuelta. However, it is one of the easiest Spanish dishes to make even if you aren't in Spain. Here's what you need:

1 kilo of potatoes
9 eggs
1 medium onion
A boatload of olive oil

Step 1: Peel and slice the potatoes. Dice the onion. 

Step 2: Put the potatoes and onion in a frying pan and cook with copious amounts of oil. I'm not kidding about the olive oil its the secret to a good tortilla. If you think you have added enough, you should probably add more. Cook the potatos and onion until they are soft over medium heat. Remove from heat and drain the oil.

Step 3: Beat the eggs until they are well mixed. Then add the potatoes and onion to the eggs. Mix together and add salt to your taste. I usually put a pinch because an overly salty tortilla is awful.

Step 4: Reheat your frying pan and add 2 spoonfuls of olive oil. Make sure the pan is well coated. Add the egg, potato, onion mixture. Lower the heat and move the pan in circles so that the tortilla doesn't stick and moves. Cook until the mixture begins to solidify. I usually don't let it cook too long because I like my tortilla runny. 

Step 5: This is the part that is the hardest--dar la vuelta or flipping the tortilla. Take a plate that is larger than the frying pan on top of the pan. Pick up the pan and flip the tortilla so that it lands on the plate. Then slide the tortilla back into the pan. Cook it for 2 or 3 more minutes moving the pan in circles. 

Step 6: Flip the finished tortilla back onto a plate and enjoy! Its even better with a glass of Rioja wine. Que rico!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Why I love Spanish Sundays

One of the cultural differences that I think many expats (myself included) notice between the US and Spain is the way people allow themselves to relax on the weekends. But actually relax, forget about work etc and just enjoy the time they have away from hectic daily life. No day of the week encompasses this attitude more than Sunday. Even in Madrid, almost all the shops are closed and everyone takes the day to relax and disconnect. Take a look at my Sunday:

10:30 am-Get up with no hurry and eat breakfast while reading.
11:00-1-Watch TV and think about what to eat for lunch.
2:30-Make and eat lunch. Watch the news.
5:00-Meet with Alberto and some friends to have some cañas or small beers in one of my favorite areas of Madrid, La Latina.

9:00-Return home to write this blog post and do some lesson planning for tomorrow. Read books on my Kindle.

Hard life right? Ok...ok during the week I am pretty busy but I make time to relax on the weekend and recharge my batteries for the next week. Spain just makes it easy.