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.