Saturday, December 24, 2011

Third time's the charm

Back in California for Christmas, this is my third time coming home from Europe for the holidays, and each time has felt very different.

The first time was coming back from my semester in Italy in 2008, and I was too cool for America. I'd gotten my first taste of living overseas. I remember despising anything American, any reminder that I wasn't in Europe anymore. Pick-up trucks, super-sized grocery stores, and kids running lemonade stands would all anger me. "That's so American," I would think, imagining myself a highly cultured individual now that I had spent four months in Europe. Looking back now, it was immature and arrogant. I eventually got off my high horse, but that deep desire to be somewhere else in the world is what got me to Spain, so I can't regret it.
How could I not be cool having lived a short walk from here?
Last year I came home for the holidays four months in to my time in Spain. It was perfect timing for me, right at that stage of culture shock when I was getting really homesick. The honeymoon stage of culture shock had ended and I needed a taste of home. Peanut butter. Mexican food. Target. Driving a car. People being on time. I was craving it all. I needed a break from jamón, tapas, cobbled streets, and being a guiri. Two weeks at home was exactly what the doctor ordered and I went back to Spain in January with a new wave of motivation to make the most of my experience.
On my "To Eat" list every trip home
This year I feel different from either of the previous two times. I am of course enjoying all the comforts of home, but to be honest I wasn't ecstatic to come back like I was last year. Spain has absolutely turned in to home for me, and I was sad to be leaving it for the holidays. All the little things that used to bug me are just a part of life I've adapted to. I've found the shinier side of the coin for nearly everything that I at one point complained about in Spain. Nothing is open on Sundays, but there are six other days in the week to run your errands. Waiters and sales clerks don't put on fake customer service smiles like they do here, but when you run in to someone you know, you kiss them on both cheeks and ask them how they and their family are, because you actually care.

I will always be glad to see my family in California and they are the reason I will keep coming back, but I didn't have a check list of things to eat and experience while at home like I did last year. If there was a list, it would have been: 1- Spend time with family. 2- Spend time with friends. I am definitely fulfilling that list, and enjoying every minute of it. Ten more days of family and friends, and ten more days until Spain. Both are good things in my book.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Emerald Isle

I apologize for the dearth of bloggage lately. I've been busy freezing my face off in Ireland and England the last two weekends, working in between, and now have three days left to pack and bid farewell and happy holidays to the Spain family before I head home for Christmas on Thursday. Did I mention I'm also still working all this week? That I plan to find time to make Christmas sugar cookies to bring to work? That I still need to do my Christmas shopping? Who needs to sleep anyway?

In the mean time, enjoy a bit of Northern Ireland and Ireland, which is better expressed in pictures than words (especially since I couldn't understand a word of what some people said there anyway).
Northern Ireland coast
Steak and Guinness pie and a hot toddy
Giant's Causeway

Belfast Christmas market
Queen of Tarts, please go there when ever you visit Dublin
Mandatory tour of Guinness storehouse
Christ Church Cathedral, which had a Christmas market in its crypt
Feliz Navidad a todos!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Andaluz: the tiny soccer ball of Spanish

One of my soccer coaches when I was about 12 had a brilliant idea. We did our drills at practice with size one soccer balls. Here's a picture I stole so you can get a size comparison for just how small it is.
As you can imagine, this made simple exercises much more difficult. A pass or volley you normally do with little effort now takes much more precision. The benefit to practicing this way? When you switch back to normal sized balls, it's like washing your windshield for the first time in ages and finally being able to see again. Or like taking a blindfold off. If you can do something with a size one ball, you'll never have a problem doing it with a normal one.

Why do I mention this now? Because I recently had an epiphany, and I decided that Andaluz (ahem, Andalú), the particular dialect of Spanish I'm learning here in Andalucía, is the tiny soccer ball of Spanish. I could go learn the crisp, clear, Spanish of Madrid or Valladolid, but where's the fun in that? Only pronouncing every other syllable means listening to everyday conversations is like deciphering cryptic messages.

In order for the words to make sense, I used to have to mentally fill in the blanks and reread the sentence in my head. By the time I'd processed that and was ready to chime in to the conversation, I was way behind. Poco a poco it's getting easier, and now I find myself very conscious of the fact that I'm understanding words and phrases that once would have left me puzzled.

However, when I switch to the full size soccer ball, when I talk to a student's mom who is from Salamanca, or a coworker back home who's Colombian, the full effect of Andaluz hits me. Listening to them compared to Andalucíans is like night and day. I can go the entire conversation without missing a word (sometimes), a feat I have yet to accomplish in Andaluz.

But am I packing my bags and running away to the north? Absolutely not. If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere in the Spanish speaking world, but I'm not going anywhere. I'm hitting the books and working on dropping the 'd' in my 'ado' endings. Study with me:

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bullet dodged

As I've mentioned before, I have private classes with two boys every day after work (Every day being Monday through Thursday). The family is Spanish, but the kids go to a British school, so I help them with their homework in English.

Yesterday I was helping the older of the two, who is eleven, fill out diagrams labeling the parts of the male and female reproductive systems (always a fun topic, but wait, it gets better). He had his textbook with more or less the same picture, so all he really had to do was copy. There was just one small problem. The worksheet had more organs, glands, etc to label than were in the book. But never fear, the teacher had anticipated this. His suggestion: If you can't find all of them in the book, use the internet.

Yes, my student had instructions to do his own research on the human reproductive system online. We all know that the internet contains nothing inappropriate for eleven year old children. Even he knew he was likely to see things he didn't want to see. Thank goodness super-tutor Amy was there to save the day. I haven't taken a biology class since ninth grade and don't remember which gland is which, but I do know how to choose my search engine criteria carefully, and we arrived safely at our destination without scarring anyone.

Biology teachers around the world, please don't tell your students to google the reproductive system. I can't be there to shield all of their eyes.

Please excuse the lack of pictures in this post, I assume you'll understand.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Seven days, a farm, and 50 eleven year olds

If at any point in your life, you should find yourself staying on a farm in rural Madrid for a week with 50 ten and eleven year old Spanish children as a part of an environmental English camp, here are a few things you can expect:
  • You normally see each group of kids for 2 hours per week, meaning it's been difficult to learn any of their names. But this week, you will know all of them by Tuesday.
  • You will know the three Manuel's and two Sara's by last name.
  • You will learn to tell the twins apart by facial features and by personality.
  • You will make friends with four golden retrievers, five horses, two miniature horses, and countless goats, sheep, and pigs.
  • You will teach the kids how to do the electric slide, which most of them will think is the coolest thing ever.
  • Back at school on Monday they will beg, "Teacher, can we dance?"
  • You will help the girls blow dry their hair after shower time. They will love you playing with their hair, and you will now be able to tell them all apart by the backs of their heads.
  • During said girl-bonding time, some of them will drop their pants to show you their days of the week underwear. "Very good, today is Wednesday. Now pull your pants up."
  • You will here the words "Teacher, can I go to the toilet please?" more than you ever thought possible in your life.
  • You will start having dreams about telling them to put their coats on.
  • By Wednesday you won't have to argue with them any more about the necessity of a coat. The coastal kids will learn that not everywhere has weather like Málaga.
  •  You will realize just how "city" your kids are when a) half of them are afraid of the horses, b) most of the girls still insist on being pretty and sparkly and pink to go on a hike, and c) one teacher whipping out nail polish results in an absolute mob.

  •  All of them will speak in English. Even the ones who are normally terrified and getting them to speak is like pulling teeth.
  • Working seven days straight, rather than your normal 12 hours per week, will be worth every minute of it.
  • You will have an absolutely amazing time and grow to love your kids more than you ever thought possible.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Want my life?

I'm well aware that a good portion of this blog is dedicated to bragging about how awesome my life is. No apologies. I just speak the truth. However, I'm not completely heartless. So I'll let you all in on how exactly I got to be here. Want to teach English in Spain? Here's how.

Option 1: My first year here I came with CIEE, a non-profit organization that arranges the teaching job. They charge a program fee, which varies depending on which of a few programs you choose, and in return they act as a middle man throughout the application process, provide visa assistance and an orientation to help you get your life set up in Spain. They provide tips on everything from cell phones to setting up internet to apartment hunting to lesson planning. You also have the option of adding on Spanish classes and staying with a Spanish family before you start the job. CIEE places only in Andalucía. See their website for full details.

Option 2: This year I applied directly through the Ministerio de Educación, as the vast majority of people do because it's free.

To be eligible for either you must have either a US or Canadian passport, be a native English speaker, have a BA or BS, and have at least an intermediate Spanish level (this one can be fudged a little bit with CIEE´s classes).

Both of these options lead to the exact same job: an English teaching assistant, or auxiliar, in a primary school, secondary school, or official language school for the academic school year. You work 12 hours a week and earn 700€/month (Madrid is a bit different, more hours and higher pay. I'm not sure but I'd imagine Barcelona is similar). So what's the difference?

Pros: Andalucía only and ability to request cities, informative orientation if you need the help, streamlined CIEE application
Cons: $$$$

Pros: Free, all of Spain available
Cons: Only can select preferred regions, not cities, complicated Profex application

I chose to do CIEE mostly because of the Spanish classes offered. Looking back, I could have survived without them; my Spanish was better than I gave myself credit for. However, I´m still glad I did it because of the fantastic experience in my homestay, and for the friends I made during that time who were friends all over Andalucía for the year.

Which ever option you choose, get started now. The application for the 2012-13 Ministerio program opens today (November 7). Complete and submit the online portion of the application in Profex as soon as you can. You´ll get a number that indicates the order in which placements are given out. Last year I submitted within two or three days of the application being open and I was number 104. Don´t worry about mailing in the other documents right now (personal statement, letter of rec, etc), just get them in by the deadline, which I believe is in February.

The timeline: apply now, get placed in your region in February/March, find out your specific school as early as May, start the fun visa process, and be in Spain to start work in Septmeber/October. If you apply with CIEE you´ll probably get your placement information a little sooner, but not by much.

If you have any questions check out the websites for more details, or feel free to ask me at and I can share my experience. Just remember, I´m not an employee or spokesperson for either program, just a current/past participant.

Get started on that application and good luck!

Side note: There are loads of auxiliares here from the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, but I don´t know anything about their application process. Sorry!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday observations

It's an ordinary Tuesday in the life of an auxiliar, and here's what's on my mind:

1. Spain really needs us here. I was teaching a cute little lesson involving my kids reading about people from various parts of the United States, and was really excited that their textbook actually included something outside of the UK. Until I turned the page and found this in the activity book:
Think they consulted an American for this?
Madre mia. Those two little blobs are supposed to be Nevada and New Mexico, and they didn't even try drawing the shape of New York state. I know that the exact shape of the states isn't the point of the lesson, but how hard would it have been to get it right? I could have drawn them by hand more accurately. (Trust me, my flatmate challenged me last year to draw a map of the US from memory, and I did pretty damn well)

2. I'm getting through books far too quickly for the good of my bank account. I've been back in Spain for just over three weeks and have finished four books, mostly due to not being able to put The Hunger Games series down. I love all the time on the train each day I have to read, but it's time to get back to the free, out of copyright material ------> Started Jane Austen's Persuasion today.

3. I've scored just about the sweetest private class deal ever. I spend two hours a day after work sitting in a sun room out on a terrace, helping two wonderful little boys with their homework, while looking out over this:
On a clear day we can see from El Palo in the east to past Fuengirola in the west, and sometimes even across to Morocco. But even in rainy weather it manages to be beautiful. The nine year-old I work with absolutely could not focus on his work until the rainbow had been sufficiently documented, so this picture was as much for him as it was for me.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Running in the rain

 When most Malagueños foreigners pretending to be Malagueños see the above weather forecast they are filled with one emotion: Despair. Mourning at the end of summer and loss of beach weather. Rain means you stay at home. You don't go out. It's just not something we're used to here, so we hide from it.

However, I looked up at the sky this morning and had one thought. These are calling my name:
Perfect cloud cover. Rain sprinkling on your face on and off. The sun occasionally peeking out, maintaining that perfect 20°C/68°F. It's about as good as running weather can get, so I grabbed my ipod and headed down here:
Disclaimer: picture taken on a sunnier day
My treasured Malagueta. I can't believe I ever wanted to leave you. I won't ever get tired of having the Mediterranean as the back drop to my afternoon runs.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why being American sucks, sometimes

I love my life in Spain, don't get me wrong. But sometimes (okay, a lot), it can be a bit unwelcoming to foreigners, and especially to Americans. Let me give you two examples from this past week:
  • I went to go open a bank account. I go in, take a number, and wait my turn to talk to someone just like everyone else. I tell the lady I'd like to open an account, and tell her which kind specifically because I've read about them beforehand. Great! She's friendly, seems eager to gain a new client, all is going well. Until I start pulling out all my paperwork. She takes one look at my passport. Oh, you're American. I thought you were German (which I seem to get a lot here). That complicates things. You have this long list of hoops to jump through. Oh look! You're missing one little thing. Too bad. Sorry, but I can't help you.
  • This weekend I went to go chat with a lady about taking on some classes at a private academy. She was fantastic, incredibly organized, had an entire curriculum for me to follow, and it all sounded great. Then she tells me about pay. It will be X number of euros after deductions. Deductions? What? I sadly informed her that I'm here on a student visa because my job is technically a grant. Spain makes this differentiation for non-Europeans in this program because it's a hell of a lot easier getting a student visa than a work visa. This also means that technically I'm not authorized to work, meaning I can't be on the payroll for this very official academy. She and I are both shattered when we make this discovery. She wanted to hire me. I'm a native English speaker, and that's all she cares about. But one little word on some paperwork is preventing that.
Documents that send up red flags. Warning! American!
Some days I just want to grab someone by the shoulders and shake some sense into them. My fellow auxiliars and I are here to teach English. To encourage the exchange of ideas and cultures. To broaden children's horizons. These are all good things, so stop treating us like we're some kind of vermin responsible for the country's current crisis, as they love to talk about.

But then I remember that it's the middle of October and I just spent a whole weekend on the beach, sipping cervezas and eating at chiringuitos, and I love Spain. Then I remember that my first language being English (whether or not from Europe) is what makes my life possible, and being American isn't so bad either.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Taste of the season

Last year around Halloween, I suppose just like any other year, I really wanted some candy corn. There was just one problem: Spain doesn't have candy corn. I expressed this craving to my roommate. She had no idea what it was. If you're in the same boat, please read up here. I described it, showed her pictures, but they were no substitutes for the real thing. I went an entire year sans candy corn.

This year I came prepared. One of the benefits of having waited until the end of September to return was that Target's shelves were stocked with Halloween candy before I left. I flew half way across the world with a 50 pound suitcase (Okay, it was a little heavier than that, but there was a very nice man at the British Airways counter who didn't mind). One pound of that, 1/50 of all my possessions I decided were necessary to my life in Spain, was candy corn.
When I was unpacking I very excitedly stashed them in the cupboard and told my roommate he would get to try them come Halloween. Well, so much for that plan. I've been in Spain for ten days and I already broke in to them.
We'll see how long the bag lasts. When assembling them for the above picture, any that wouldn't stand up faced the ultimate sacrifice.

In other news, my blog got a facelift! I'm still toying with it, possibly adding more pages, but what do you think? The background picture is one I took of architecture detail in the Alhambra in Granada.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It was like Christmas

Quick recap of the last five days:

Plane lands in Málaga Friday at 9pm after nearly 24 hours of traveling. Roommate is waiting for me at the airport and rolls my suitcase across the city for me. I'm sitting outside at a café in Plaza Merced with a caña and tapas within two hours. The weekend proceeds with wine, beach, and wonderfully familiar faces.
Guiri-fest en la Malagueta
So glad this chica is back for a second year too
Monday was the first day of work and I got to meet the niños and answer hundreds of questions like "Do you have a boyfriend?" "How old are you?" "Do you like pizza/chocolate/ice cream/chicken?" "Madrid or Barça?" "Do you like the Simpsons?"

Getting resettled in is going amazingly well. So well, in fact, that yesterday felt like Christmas. My roommate can attest to just how much I resembled a giddy child. All of the following things happened within a matter of hours.
  • I got my private classes started up again (a.k.a. travel money),
  • Internet and TV service were set up (we get CNN, BBC, MGM movies, and so much more I haven't explored yet)
  • Towels and sheets that had gone missing over the summer were returned
  • I finally got around to doing a real grocery shopping trip and properly stocked my kitchen
  • I got my bags back I had left here with a friend over the summer. Going through them was like opening presents because I'd forgotten what was in them.
Don't even try telling me that most of these things I'm so happy about are just my own things coming back, or things I'm paying for anyway. They made me happier than a pig in shit (to quote my favorite high school teacher), and life in Málaga is officially back.

Monday, September 26, 2011

This time around

Anything you do twice in your lifetime, you should do better the second time, right? With that in mind, I've been thinking about things I'd like to do differently in my second year in Spain. It's not that there was anything wrong with last year, but there is always room for change. I guess you can call these my New Year in Spain Resolutions.
  • Take more pictures- I hate coming back from somewhere you may not ever go again and regret not having more pictures. I chose to get a pocket-sized camera so that it can come everywhere with me, but I find myself reluctant to take it out because I don't want to be that tourist. I definitely know the argument that travel is better experienced through your own eyes rather than a camera lens, but I think there is a happy medium, and for me the number of pictures needs to increase.
  • Actually study Spanish- Sometimes the day to day use of Spanish isn't enough to really understand exactly where the subjunctive and conditional are used. I've got Practice Makes Perfect: Advanced Spanish Grammar on my Kindle and it's ready for use on the 45 minute train I'll take to work everyday this year. Any other book recommendations are welcome.
  • Make more Spanish friends- I loved my community of auxiliars last year, because after all, we're really the only ones who can completely understand each other and what we go through to make life in Spain work. However, more Spanish friends are definitely in order. They will improve my Spanish, help me find more places that locals go, and enrich my life in Spain that much more.
  • Travel goals: Morocco, Greece, and Northern Spain- Obviously I still have a million and one places on my to-see list, but these are my top ranked destinations for the coming year. The last year or so Morocco and Greece have been fairly unstable, but things have gotten better.
  • Play soccer- I've been playing in a co-ed soccer league with my brothers this summer and had forgotten how much I love it. I played all throughout my childhood, high school, and intramural leagues in college and I really do miss it. I would love to find a league to play in in Málaga.
  • Watch soccer- Sadly I never made it to watch any soccer (ahem, football) games last year. I definitely dropped the ball on that one and will be making up for it this year.
But I did go see Real Madrid in Los Angeles this summer
  • Blog more- The goal is to appease the masses my mother with more frequent posts. Any objections? No? Good.
Spain 2.0, let's go. (In four days)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I have been extremely nervous the last few weeks. I'm applying for a fantastic opportunity for after I get back from Spain next year that requires "proficient" Spanish, as verified by a university faculty member.

I didn't "study" Spanish in college in the traditional sense of the word. I didn't major or minor in it. I took enough Spanish to meet the foreign language requirement, which was up to the fourth quarter, and which I finished in 2007. This means that since then, any practice and improvement in my Spanish has been largely unstructured, informal, and has inched along at the pace of a snail.

I've had guys in bars tell me my Spanish is fluent. I've had employees of my internet company's technical department give up all hope talking to me and tell me I'll have to call back when someone who speaks English is there. But someone like a professor who will actually analyze my speaking, writing, listening, and reading skills? Haven't talked to one of those in over four years.

 Neither of the Spanish professors I had in college are there anymore, so I asked the coordinator of the Spanish language program to evaluate me. Would she have an accent that's difficult for me to understand? Would she be disappointed when I struggle with the imperfect subjunctive? Would she use idioms I haven't learned? Would she determine that my Spanish falls under the important title of "proficient"?

Yes, yes, yes. It went so well. I was nervous about being out of practice the last few months, but it felt so good to just sit and have a conversation in Spanish. She asked me what I do in Spain and what I want to do in the future. I asked her where she's from and how long she's been in the U.S. We chatted, I wrote up a quick little paper so she could evaluate my writing. She said that my Spanish is absolutely proficient.

I've been quite the happy camper ever since.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My idiot brother

My brother recently informed me that I am a failure as a blogger. Why? Because there is no mention of him anywhere in my blog.

Dear readership, I must apologize. I've been depriving you all. Keeping you in the dark. Allow me to introduce you to Robby.
He's 21, he's an EMT, and he's going to school to be a nurse (All male nurse jokes are welcome now). He enjoys long walks on the beach. He's naturally gifted at any sport he tries. He once went to school without shoes and had to call our mom to bring him some from home.
He's a lefty. He's a fantastic goalie. He's extremely protective of me and has only ever approved of one of my boyfriends. He sometimes sweats when he reads. His favorite NCAA basketball team is Duke and he wrote a paper on Coach K. in high school. He would rather be hit by a bus than go vegetarian. He thinks that when I leave the country everything in my room belongs to him (Such as my clock, fan, mp3 player). He has been known to run into my room, turn and point his butt at me, fart, and sprint away. When the seventh Harry Potter book came out he read it in less than 24 hours. There was a lot of sweating going on.

Ladies, I'm sorry to disappoint, but he is very much taken (and yes, she knows all these things about him).

But obviously, what makes him most awesome is being related to me.

Did I mention that he is only one of my three brothers?
That's Robby's "Why am I up at 8am just to see my sister in a stupid hat?" face. Kevin, on the left, is thinking "I hope we go out to eat after this."

We may not be normal, but I promise we love each other.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hitting the wall

I've reached my breaking point. All those things about the United States that I longed for while I was away, I'm done with them (except for maybe peanut butter). I've spent enough time acting like an American and am beyond ready to get back to Spain.
One off the SoCal summer checklist
Disneyland fireworks. Yeah yeah I'll stop whining
I've done the obligatory trip to Disneyland, the Mexican food, the California beach, and the sprawling out on my carpeted floor. I've celebrated birthdays with friends in Vegas. I've driven down to San Diego to visit old friends and watch surfers at Ocean Beach. I've had meals with over-the-top customer service from servers sucking up for tips. I've enjoyed, and then gotten sick of, driving a car.

I've thoroughly enjoyed my summer at home. However, I've reached a point where I'm desperate for Spain. For Europe. For travel. Three months in America appears to be more than enough for me. I try to eavesdrop on every Spanish conversation I can. I switch to Spanish at work with customers whose English is fine, but I overheard them speaking Spanish before and want to use mine. I stalk distant friends on Facebook who have pictures posted from international travels, even if I haven't spoken with the person in ages. A silhouette of the Eiffel Tower on a commercial makes me nostalgic, so I go look through my Paris pictures. When my brother's girlfriend mentions studying abroad next summer I immediately start firing off twenty questions and want to plan the whole thing.

I'm ready for pueblos blancos like this:
and balconies like this:
and restaurant decor like this:

Sigh. My life will be back to this travel-addict's pleasings soon enough. In the meantime, I'm going to go look at some Ryan Air flights.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Confessions of a grammar Nazi

 I am a grammar Nazi. A language snob. A linguistic bitch, if you will. I offer the following as proof:
  1. When I was ten years old I once took a red pen to a letter my best friend had written me. I had every intention of mailing it back to her with all my corrections. Luckily my mom got to it first and advised me it would not be good for the friendship.
  2. Over ten years later I completely ruined what would have otherwise been a special moment by pointing out improper use of your/you're in a very cute note left for me by a special someone.
  3. I read Eats, Shoots, and Leaves and Mother Tongue. For fun. And loved them. And would read them again right now if there weren't so much else on my reading list.
I really can't help it. Often times a "You mean this" will escape my lips before I've realized it when someone misspeaks. My fingers start typing on their own to correct people on facebook. But luckily I usually get to the delete key before my fingers get to the enter key (But not always).
I foolishly think that everyone cares about proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation as much as I do. I know that I take my Naziism to a higher level, but I do think that everyone should be able to speak and write in their native language to a relatively error free extent.

I'm not completely unforgiving in my opinion. English is a complex language which makes spelling, pronunciation, and grammar rules only so that we can break them. We are a mishmash of languages from all over the world and have adopted rules and vocabulary from others the way that the media follows Republican presidential candidates: what ever is sparkly and popular, whether or not it makes sense.
I don't claim to speak and write the language perfectly. I love my spell check as much as anyone. There might even be mistakes in this very blog (If you see any, please tell me). However, I have to draw my line of toleration somewhere, and all of the following definitely fall below it:
  • there/their/they're & your/you're- Learn them. Don't confuse them again. Please.
  • definately- Does the word finite have an "a" in it? NO! Then when you add a prefix and suffix to the word, it still doesn't have one!
  • could of/should of- This irritates me like nothing else.
  • apostrophe-ed plurals- No, you did not buy some book's. That curvy thing is used in contractions or to show possession. Go back to second grade and learn about it.
  • there's books over there- "There's" is a contraction for "there is." Would you say "There is books"? I hope not. So stop saying "There's books." It should be "There are."
I could go on for days. But for your sake I won't.

I'll leave you with a few things that simultaneously make me me smile, cringe, and worry for the future of humanity.
Wrong. I do too.
 Plea from this grammar Nazi: please use your spell check.