Wednesday, January 27, 2010


So as I've already mentioned, Spanish schools aren't as competative as I'm accustomed. But here in Andalucía, the level is even lower.

I had noticed that one of my friends has repeated. Twice. I then asked another friend of mine how many people in our class is repeating a year.

She counted.

Eight. Out of twenty-four. That's a third of my class. I actually started to cry.

The thing is, I go to the BEST school in the area. And some of the other classes in the school have rates up to 50% of the kids repeating.

It's hard to explain, but this made me so sad. Education is so important to me, and to see such blatant failure of the educational system made me so angry at the people in charge that do nothing, the parents that don't encourage education, and so sad for my classmates that are losing out on opportunities.

I didn't really realize how lucky I am to attend the school in the States that I do. Really really lucky.

But enough of that stuff...

So now it's CARNAVAL SEASON!!! Currently, in El Teatro de Falla, there are all these theatre groups singing original compositions in a competition. It last a couple weeks, and the finals are coming up. After the competition, is the week of partying and dressing up and all that jazz.

Of course, our school this year decided to screw us over and only give us one day of the week off. Not that they expect anyone to come. A flyer was sent out, reminding everyone that we don't have Carnaval off, but by the tome of the flyer, you could tell it was more of a suplication than a mandation. (I wonder if those are words in English...I keep translating from Spanish to English and sometimes it doesn't work too hot)

And now another topic completelyyyy.

So as anyone that has taken Spanish 101 should know (you can skip this part, Frenchies) there are two forms of you singular: Tú, and Usted, the prior being informal, and the latter being formal.

In theory, which is of course what we're taught, tú is used between children with eachother, family, friends, and Gods, and Usted is used between children with adults that aren't family members, strangers, and coworkers.
In practice however, this is completely different.
Almost all my teachers refer to me as usted, whilst I can call them tú if I please. HOWEVER,
some teachers want to be called usted, to show respect, but others want to be call tú, to show familiarity and warmth. Head desk.
As my friend Rubén has told me, Usted, though technically more polite, can have a very rude implication. It can easily implciate I DON'T LIKE YOU AND DON'T REALLY WANT TO TALK TO YOU, YOU ARE NOT MY FRIEND
Which just shows how well we've been taught in school.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Obviously there are aspects of a culture that are merely trends, not absolute truths, and always have their exceptions. But one trend that I've noticed is slightly more inequality between the sexes.

It's nothing extreme. However, in Spain, compared to the States, it's more common for a women to not have a job, to be the caretaker of the house, and for the man to not know how (or simply not want to) clean and cook. Sort of like the 50's. (or the South)

As a male minor, I honestly don't have to lift a finger. My only job is to keep my clothes off the floor. Mamí makes my bed, washes my clothes, has lunch and dinner ready for me when I get home, etc. And little things, like bringing me a blanket if I look cold, making me a bocadillo if I look hungry, clearing my plate after I finish eating, closing the door for me when I leave the house, etc. All things I'm perfectly capable of doing myself. My mother raised me to be more independent, something I plan to teach to my own children, so to have someone do everything humanly possible for me, well, actually irritates me at times.

When I vistited Madrid the other week, the friend I was staying with insisted on making my breakfast, and indirectly dressed me by nagging me to death (but with good intentions, of course) She and her mother did little things like this. The father on the other hand, was also being waited on.

The men do far less in the household. Granted, my first hostfather was 'the chef' of the house. But even still, half of my meals were made by my hostmother. Which means that if a man does his share of the work, he's exceeding expectations.
Sweet. (for me)

If you look at South America in countries that had been conquered by Spain, the culture is much like what Spain used to be; even more machista.

But perhaps the story in Spain is in part due to Franco. Under his rule, a man could kill his wife, and a boyfriend his girlfriend, if infidelity was even suspected.
Franco, for you silly Americans that don't know your history, was a dictator in Spain. And yes, that law existed, up until Franco's death in 1974. That's not even 40 years...
The scary thing is that he's really popular with some of the people here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


So one awesome thing about Spain is that Christmas break is a lot longer. It starts on the 23rd, and ends on the 1oth. That's over two weeks. SUCK IT.

Anyways, Christmas is a lot different here. Instead of all the fun and partying happening in a relatively short time, it's all spanned out.

Christmas dinner is eaten on Christmas Eve, with lots of seafood and lots of ham.
SOOO ham is bassically to Spainards what the cow is to Hindus (other than the fact that they eat their coveted furry God...sort of like Catholics. Mmm, the flesh of Christ...) because it's like the biggest treat. Every household, and I mean every househole, has ham during Christmas time on this wooden block thingy where one cuts the ham. It lasts for over a week, not in the fridge, but on the kitchen counter, with the only visible attempt to protect it from bacteria is a feebly strewn across hand towel. And it's not cooked. It's litterally a leg of a pig that has been chopped off, dipped in salt, cured, and then served. There's still the hoof and little hairs and everything. I get so sad just looking at it. Fortunately tears are a great sauce with ham. Mmm, Spanish Jesus.
Then all the leftovers are eaten during Christmas day. Everyone goes out to clubs and bars pretty much everyday until work or school starts again.

On new Years Eve, everyone wears a pair or red underwear that was recently given by a friend or lover. Trust me on this: Red underwear while drunk = closest sensation to being Superman that exists. (At least that's what the people who drink tell me. I'm a good little Intrax Superstar)

Instead of watching the ball drop in Times Square, people watch the clock in Puerta del Sol in Madrid. On the last twelve seconds, twelve giant chimes ring, and everyone pops a grape into his mouth with each ring. Grapes here have seeds in them (I don't know if my mom buys some seedless brand or American grapes just don't have seeds) and I made the mistake of not taking them out. Three minutes of grape juice, and crunching seeds is so not grapealicious. Oh, and instead of saying Happy New Year, everyone kisses eachother. And yes, the grapes are still their mouths whilst they do this.

On the 6th of January, Los Reyes Magos come (the magical wizard kings...aka, the Three Wise Men. The Bible is a LOT different in Spanish, apparently...) and they give gifts to all the good little boys and girls. Aka, Santa Claus, except one is black, one is Asian, and none of them are at risk of diabetes. (Spain, being a mostly Catholic nation, follows the advent calender more closely than America, thus, gifts are exchanged later)
My friend's little sister, the age of nine, still believes in Los Reyes Magos. The whole family prepares the house, hiding gifts, and buying extra ones for her that claim to be from Los Reyes Magos, so as not to tarnish her innocent and fragile childhood. At least, that's what the family thought until they figured out that she always knew they weren't real and kept quiet so she could get more gifts. Smart kid.

And that's about the Spanish Christmas season.

On the 3rd of January to the 10th I was in Madrid, stayed in a friend's house and visited everyone. It snowed, ALMOST NOTHING, but it snowed, and to see those beautiful white flakes of angel dandruff made me so happy that I insisted on wearing shorts. Oh, and someone stole my wallet. SO NOT COOL, SPAIN. That's the last time I put valuables in the back pocket of loose jeans in a crowded Metro.