Thursday, October 29, 2009


So Castellano is one of my favorite classes, where we learn how to pull apart a sentence grammatically. It's actually really cool.

For instance, I can now take the sentence, "Me encanta que mi abuela nos prepare las tartas que nosotros comemos en casa," and do this:

I just find it fascinating that the Principal Subordinado Adjetivo Complemento de Nombre actually has a name, and isn't just some concept that we use but can't explain.

Of course, I can't do this in English, which brings me to my main point: Why? Why haven't I been taught to identify the principle proposition in a sentence? Why does our school system think it's acceptable to give a diploma to high school graduates before they can even tell the difference between a direct and indirect complementary pronoun in their native language? Is just being able to speak English without understanding it enough?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Alicante Escapades

So this weekend I went to Alicante to visit my Spanish family. It was my grandfather's and great grandmother's AND grandmother's friend's bithday. Long story short, the Spanish eat and eat and eat and now I'm on Jenny Craig.

But I digest...

On the way there I saw tons of Green machinery.

Solar Panels


And these awesome bull billboards.


I met MariCarmen, my grandmother, and she's the bomb. She's been all over the world and has art all over her house (even a dead cocodrilo from the Congo!)

I saw La Iglesia de San Nicolas (absolutely gorgeous...couldn't take pictures though) and went to a concert in Plaza de Santa María with my tíos. It was all Spanish festival music.
I wish I could've stayed longer, but I'll be back for Christmas!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Black Market

So today I got an exam back in Economy. I got a 4.25 out of 10.
I almost cried.

Of course, this is considering the fact that I didn't understand the book/material/teacher/test. And at least I did the test, unlike some German exchange student I could mention (she instead drew on her hand. I love that girl)
But apparently, the baseline passing grade was a 4, so I guess I'm in the clear. Next exam is a baseline of 5, so this time I'm defineitely going to study más (heh heh, right)

Speaking of the black market (wasn't that a great segue?) I paid my friend María (one of the 87 Marías in my school. TOTAL AND COMPLETE TANGET FROM EVERYTHING OUTSIDE OF THE PARENTHESIS! So there's no name diversity here. People have one first name, and two last names, one from Mom, one from Dad. And there are 5 Juan López Garcías, 12 María Martínez Gonzálezs, 3 María García Martínezs, 9 Juan González Lópezs, AND EVEN A JUAN GARCIA GARCIA. Head-desk) a euro to fotocopy her History notes so that I could actually have material to study from (as my notes are useless and the teacher doesn't follow the book, which I found out today, which explains why I've been lost in that class for two weeks)

Anyways, I just trudged through 10 pages of messy Spanish notes. Which is SO much fun, esspecially when in cursive Spanish, c l's look like d's, t's look like b's or f's, v's look like u's, c i's look like a's, and there are three ways to write a lower case r. Three! IN. THE. SAME. WORD. Head-desk.

Monday, October 19, 2009


One (of many) thing that the educational system here lacks is substitute teachers. Today, I didn't have two of my classes. Let that sink it.

The first one was a PLANNED absence. My Castellano teacher knew she wouldn't be here on Monday. She, infact, told us this on Friday. So do we have a substitute come in? No. We get to sleep in and come into school late.
The second class was not a planned absence. My Ciencia teacher didn't tell anyone she wasn't coming in. Again, no substitute. We were free to roam the school.


Although I did enjoy the extra sleep.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


So, there's no milk here.
That is, no fresh milk. It's all packaged and stored and proccesed and not at all fresh, and I think they put a chemical into it for the sole purpose of keeping the milk from ever reaching a drinkable temperature.
And it's sold by liter. LITERS. I drink that much per meal. It's such a waste of plastic. But at least it all gets recycled.
Which brings me to another topic. They recycle a lot more in Europe, which is great. My father is the type that likes to burn all of his waste, so this is a nice change.
Except..there's no bag for actual trash. They have bags for paper, carton, plastic, glass, metal, food scraps, BUT NOTHING FOR ACTUAL TRASH. It's enviormentally great but sometimes I really don't want to have to think about which of the 87354 bags my half plastic half carton goes into.

Monday, October 12, 2009


One very important feature of the Spanish culture is how sociable they are. While Americans tend to define themselves by their career, Spainards define themselves through time spent with others.

I'm used to going home after school somedays and just relaxing for the rest of the day, because we all need to unwind a bit. Here, not so much. If you don't want to go out everyday there's something wrong with you.

My Spanish parents actually told me (brace yourself) that I've been focusing too much on my studies and haven't been going out enough partying and what not.

Wow. What a change. In America, I'm very sociable and don't spend enough time on my studies. And suddenly slowing down to relax means you're sick or anti-social.

Another part of sociablity here is physical contact. Spainards touch eachother often when speaking to eachother. (and yes, they kiss instead of shaking hands) It's actually to the extent where at times I want to say, DANGER STRANGER PERSONAL SPACE PLEASE AND THANK YOU, but here if you don't want to be touched, then you're again, anti-social.

At first when I got here, I saw all this physical contact and I thought everyone was a child molester or hitting on eachother. But it's made me reflect on my own culture and I'm starting to think we Americans like our personal space a bit too much. I remember in class in 1st grade, we were all taught about the rules of personal space and how we should respect others' personal space, and ONLY ENTER ANOTHER PERSON'S PERSONAL SPACE WHEN GIVEN PERMISSION!! RAWR!!

Touch is just one of the aspects of Spanish sociability. They're also A LOT louder. Personally, I want to preserve my hearing until I die so I enjoy the quiet. But it's absolutely normal here to shout to a friend because other people nearby are having a conversation, instead of just walking over there and speaking in an indoor voice. They yell and shout to be heard, even in situations I find inappropriate. My math teacher likes to scream an explanation rather than use different words to explain it.

In this way, they're very hot headed. For example, if you think of the relationship between a parent and child as a sinusidual wave (sorry to get all mathy on you) and an American family having a period of of say 4 (because the distance because two troughs is 4 days, as in, there's a high for two days, or, content and getting along, and two days of a low, or, noncontent and in a fight) then the Spanish family has a period of 64. Suddenly out of peace and quiet they're screaming and shouting and then they're kissing and laughing and an hour later it starts all over again.

Though this sounds chaotic, and it is, there are good things out of this social chaos. It is all verbal, and everything gets resolved. While an American teenager would run to his room, slam the door and not speak to his parent for two days and the parent the same, it is not like that here at all. Americans are much more passive agressive in this way, and only bury problems deeper.
Although I do enjoy the silence that unresolved problems can bring, the Spainards I think have found a better method.

Friday, October 9, 2009


So I've learned that in Europe, you can't really run away from America. But in no way does this mean that I feel at home.

The phenomenon is American media. America is the hands down king of all major forms of media, and therefore, it's everywhere that media can reach.

I turn on the TV and there's Wizards of Wizardly Place dubbed in Spanish. I turn it off, only to find that my little brother is playing Lego Starwars. I run outside to see girls walking to school with Hannah Montana backpacks, cars whizzing by blasting Brittney Spears, business men hurrying past with Obama spashed on the front page of their newspapers, and even in Madrid, one of the utopias of European and Arabic cultures, I see a McDonald's.

The problem with this is that Europe knows of America very well; but not the good things. In gym class, my teacher decided to make a point about the adverse effects of eating poorly, namely, by asking me, "And all the people in America are fat, aren't they, Patrick?" I wanted to say "Not as fat as you," but I held it back. (surprisingly)

Because of our strong media monopoly, America is very very well known, but ONLY through the media. Nobody here as heard of Connecticut, but they all know New York City (but of course not New York state)
It's frustrating that my entire culture has been summed up into a few movies and pop stars. Mariah Carey, Katie Perry, hell yeah! John Cage, Langston Hughes, who?

I've been asked so many times, "Are the parties in America really like in all the movies?"
Go to America and find out yourself.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Madrid Escapades

So yesterday I tripped to Madrid with Marta, Ale, and Mar. (shown in order, left to right))

I saw Plaza Mayor, Palacio Real, and all that blah blah.

The better part was all the people. And so many starving musicians on the street. It was like looking at my future. I loved it.

Then of course, in Plaza Mayor, I had to stop and watch this guy perform.

Orange pants means trustworthy, right?

Anyway, he decided to pull me in and make me part of his show. Namely, the part when he uses me to get on top of his tall unicycle. Or better put, when he sits on top of my shoulder, pushes his unicycle over, and insists that I be ridden.

But the best character of all was a fictional one. Spiderman.

Friday, October 2, 2009

No Fumar

As the son of a doctor family, I consider smoking to be absolutely grotesque and bile. It´s also selfish, because people that smoke outside pollute the air others are using, and I believe people have the right to clean air.

My veiws on smoking are to the extreme that I would jump at the chance to pass a law prohibiting any smoking at all, public or private property.
Public property because of the the aforementioned right to clean air that everyone is due. Why should I have to suffer because of your petty addiction?
And private property for fiscal reasons. Tobacco use is the second most preventable cause of death in the United States. The health reprocussions of smoking tremendous, everything from raised heart rate to lung cancer. And the people have to pay for this through their taxes due to our healthcare system. Again, people suffering from others´addictions.

And whenever I pass by a person smoking, I usually start coughing hysterically and procede to asking a companion for an inhaler.

Now imagine a person with such radical views in a country where about half the people smoke.

It´s gotten a bit rediculous at this point. During recreo, we walk outside the school grounds where all the benches are, and once past the gates, my classmates light up in view of teachers. And they smoke with their parents. And people don´t stop smoking until they die, and they start smoking at 15, 14, or even younger.

I´ve already started worrying that I´ll develop a tumor whilst here.

So my plan for Spain:
Put a sin tax on all tobacco products, and deny medical attention to anyone that uses them.