I’ve never really been a huge fan of Thanksgiving, but this year I was in Madrid and things were different. I had a lot of American friends and even more friends from other English-speaking countries who were new to the holiday and had fallen in love with it, so we were determined to have a “real” Thanksgiving. We started planning and it just so happened that my apartment had the largest area for entertaining, so the hostess job fell into my hands. And that’s where the story begins…
The grocery stores in Spain are about 1/30th the size of American supermarkets and really only sell food. No greeting cards, medicine, office supplies, or holiday section (wah). But the great thing about my neighborhood, and most neighborhoods, is that there is an endless supply of fresh bakeries, produce stands, and butchers right next to the apartment.
Grocery shopping is a tricky business. The hours are limited and on Sundays only the little one is open, its selection and quality comparable to a QT’s. During siesta time, only one of the supermarkets (my favorite) stays open, but there’s always a very angry man demanding money in front so I avoid it.
Upon entering, one is smacked in the face with the pungent smell of cured pig leg. Yes, the famous Iberian ham. I know it’s sacrilegious to live in Spain and avoid this meat, but food that smells like a wet dog doesn’t appeal to me. As much as I try, I haven’t been able to get over that hurdle yet. I grab a little basket with wheels and we’re off to a great start! Until my phone rings- an American friend is calling. “Hey!” I say as I answer it. One simple word and all eyes are on me. “What’s that guiri doing in our store, ehhh?” they wonder as they look me up and down. I notice someone else checking out the contents of my basket. “No hamburgers,” he must think. “Can’t be American,” and retreats, disappointed. Continue reading Adventures in grocery shopping
I studied foreign language and international business in university and by the time I’d moved abroad I thought I knew what people thought of Americans. We learn these things in high school and middle school as well: we’re loud, wasteful, smile too much, entitled, yadda yadda.
Once abroad, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that most of what we were taught actually wasn’t the opinion of most Spaniards. They think we are formal, polite, enthusiastic (possibly overwhelmingly so), and extremely open to people we don’t know. The two negative recurring stereotypes are that we are 1. poorly dressed and 2. extremely fat. Continue reading BIG FAT AMERICANS: Spain’s favorite generalization
My personal story before coming to Spain matches that of a lot of auxiliaries; I wanted to finish becoming bilingual, to gain international experience, and travel before beginning my career in the States where, let’s face it, leaving a well paying, respected job for one like we have now would be laughable. Now I’m at the point, after almost two and a half years living abroad, where I’ve accomplished my goals and am ready to return to the States and begin a career that’s actually relevant to my expensive degree (and start to pay that back. Damn.).
I’d been pretty good about keeping my resume and LinkedIn updated, but it still needed a good overhaul. As I browsing through other auxiliaries profiles for ideas, I noticed that almost every single person was either a lot less busy than I’ve been or selling themselves short. So this is my article to try and help other people, like me, [reluctant, yet] ready to transition back home. I’ve used this same advice when helping Spaniards adapt their professional profiles to the American model and it’s worked beautifully. I hope you agree! Let’s start basic and then talk details: Continue reading Transitioning from “Auxiliar de Conversación” to “American Working Professional”: Tips for Returning Auxuliares
As usual, I haven’t updated recently to let every one back home know how things are going here in Madrid. To cover the basics:
This year I’m teaching at a bilingual elementary school. I didn’t get my schedule until my first day of work, so I had no idea what to expect when I first walked in! I’m teaching 5th and 6th grade science and math this year, along with one or two art classes (they change my schedule a lot so I’m never quite sure). In my 6th grade science classes I’m teaching sex ed so I’ll have a funny post about that soon… Continue reading Quick Updates