Wednesday, July 9, 2014

America Again Part 2: Lincoln's Revenge

Being a Global Citizen means to me that you are able to relate to a greater group of people. I think that someone who is able to call themselves a Global Citizen should be able to understand the train of thought that someone who comes from a different country and nation might have when travelling to the US or vice versa. I wouldn't call myself a "Global Citizen" though because while I might have spent a month in Spain, I don't think even that is enough time for me to put myself into the same thought space that a local would be. It also hinders that process being that we were there as an American class which spent most of their time together. We essentially made a small American community between us which just happened to be living in Spain. This fact however did not interfere with any lessons or epiphanies which might have been had while living their though.

I noticed that the native do live much more frugally and take much more joy in smaller things, at least what us as Americans would consider small. I think this is something that Americans should try and learn from; taking joy from smaller things. We are so used to just having things the way we like it that it has become the norm and we don't know any other way of living. That goes double for today's youth. We have the ability to set our houses, even individual rooms to the exact temperature within the degree, the ability to freely watch anything whether it be on the internet or television, as if we were just plucking it out of the sky, huge living spaces to the point that we need to find luxury items to fill extra rooms with, and enough water and power to the point where we don't have to be frugal with our resource expenditure. Americans have what is thought to be an unlimited amount of food, cooking enough to feed double the amount of family members and then throwing out the rest when it goes bad. Of course, this is not everyone but some people do fit this description and I think it would be good to recognize that not everybody has the luxury to live like that and should be happy that there have to ability to live that type of lifestyle.

I don't feel like I have any reverse culture shock. The time difference actually helped me out too because I have been falling asleep at 9:00 or 10:00 and waking up at 5:30 which is perfect for my profession. If anything this is reverse culture assistance.

Week 4 (Tim Howard v. Iker Casillas)

The US will always be on top because 'merica. But Spain does have some things going for it which I wish was more prominent in the land of freedom and peanut butter. For one, I enjoy that most people choose to travel by bike. Although this kind of emphasis could be found in a lot of major traffic cities such as New York, it is not something that is prominent everywhere. The way Spain and especially Granada is set up kind of accommodates this form of travel much better because everything is so close while America has things a little more spread out. I also liked the amount of pride that Spain takes in their soccer teams. (I'm back in the US... It's soccer now) When we arrived in Toledo and the school of children booed Rob's choice of team jersey. That is something that would never happen in the US. As we were walking, people were generally perturbed, staring and grimacing. People have alliances with certain sports teams in the US but it was nothing like it is across the pond. The things that I missed while I was in Spain? I can't honestly think of anything that I missed for sure because everything that I did here in America I was largely able to do in Spain unless I forgot to bring it with me and was to cheap to buy it over there. Spain had ice cream, I brought my laptop so I was able to divert my attention with streaming movies, watching youtube and playing video games. I even coded the odd program here and there. There was a gym that I was able to go to, the restaurants were all good and the plazas were all beautiful. The only thing that saddened me was the fact that peanut butter does not exist over there and most people don't even know what it tastes like. Nutella on the other hand is largely popular there which partly makes up for that though.

The element from Spain that I would like to most bring back with me though is the gratuitous amount of plazas scattered throughout the city. You can't go a couple of blocks without walking through one and it is such a cool place to go and see. Kind of like a watering hole where people like to gather. I think it would be cool if the US embraced that a little more. I think it might encourage more people to spend more time outside if more places like that existed here.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Week 3 at Nerja (Zero Schei├čerei Given)

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. A free blog entry where I can write whatever I want to. I think I'm going to write a thought journal about my experience so far. I love Spain, but I hate the class. The class is extremely stressful because of all of the homework that is assigned but none of it is collected so I guess I shouldn't worry too much about that. All that matters to me is getting an A in this class because if I get anything less, I will not be able to receive my ROTC scholarship and I may or may not be able to attend Loyola any longer. I am currently in Nerja for the second time but while the sun and water are extremely nice, just like the last time, I am to preoccupied stuck in my head thinking about the final exam and how important it is for my grade. I left to go back to the hotel in order to study an hour about pronouns.

The excursions are extremely fun and I enjoy going on them but between my want to explore the city, the homework and the excursion itself, I am so extremely pressed for time. I take solace in my photography though, I like to capture the moments I have seen and experienced in different and creative ways. After that, I find it fun to edit and finalize the photos, eventually posting them online for people to see. Photography has been without a doubt, the most fun and enjoyable thing I have done here in Spain... Aside from the bars.

The students in the class are, for the most part, annoying to no end while class is in session. I have my group of friends which are much more dedicated in my opinion. My own merry band of misfits. The others will not attempt to speak Spanish in class, they will throw paper at each other during the class and overall, not take the class as a whole seriously. They will complain about going on excursions as if they thought they signed up for a vacation that served their 104 credit. I'm not going to lie, but this is a near vacation, but I believe it should be seen more as a cultural experience and chance to make new strong friendships. AMERICA

Week 3 at Nerja (Values)

The values here, like the education system, are very similar to the values Americans also hold dear. Of course, the differences that exist are more drastic than those found in the education system. Alcohol here is treated very differently compared to the US. Over in the states, alcohol is seen as more of a party drink, used to lower inhibitions and allow for more unruly behavior. In Spain, it is used more as a casual social drink. Here, Spaniards will meet for tapas around 10 and jump from tapas bar to tapas bar. Then, and only then they will go to the clubs; but only if they feel like it. In the US, the only option is to go the club or go to a bar and drink with friends.

Family is also taken very dear here, I know that family is also extremely big in America but it seems that in Spain, the Government actually forces family time into people's schedules with the use of Siestas. This is a time when everything from shops to schools will shut down so that workers and students may travel back home in order to have lunch with their families. Because of this fact, lunch is also the largest meal of the day. America doesn't have this time although the families that care will find time. I think this is the largest difference between the values of Americans and Spaniards.

Punctuality is another noticeable difference I noticed her in Spain. Over in the States, everything is punctual and moving. People in America are all about productivity and moving onto the next event in their life. Whether it be grabbing a cup of McCafe coffee on their way to work through the drive through or receiving the bill five minutes within asking for it. In Spain, the locals like to take their time and are not at all worried about any lateness they might cause because of it. “To go” is a foreign word in coffee shops, the waiters will gladly serve ten customers before tending to the check you ask for twenty minutes ago. Time is not as greatly valued here as it is in America, Spaniards are more than happy to take their time and not be in any rush at all.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Week two in the wonderful land of Spaniards and Futbol (Stereotypes)

When I came to Espana I don't think I really had any big glaring stereotypes against anything. It's safe to say that I could be one of the most ignorant people on this trip because I didn't really look up anything beforehand. This probably caused me to have some stereotypes against Spain that were far from correct. One example of this was I expected to not walk a block without seeing a couple of kids playing with a soccer ball. Another example was that I thought the streets would for the most part be extremely dirty and everything would seem kind of third worldy. 

That last misconception I had about Spain might have been due to a video game I played a while back... which took place in Mexico. It's pretty obvious that my knowledge of Spain was pretty close to nill and none. It is safe to say that most of these stereotypes I had were wrong for the most part. I even sort of like the way the people live here. They don't have the best resources and luxuries but they are happy with what they have and they take so much happiness in the little things; especially futbol. 

As far as stereotypes about America, all of the ones I have heard have come from bar speak. The things I have heard is that Americans are loud... That one is true. Americans are mostly fat, are all rich or well above their means, and are uncultured or violent. It is funny to see some of the peoples reactions to when they see that we don't fit their expectations, at least not to the full extent. They are also somewhat surprised to hear us speak Spanish to them which is always what gets me because it makes me feel like I am doing something right.

Week two in the wonderful land of Spaniards and Futbol (Academics) w/ Link

    The academics here in Spain are both startlingly different and alarmingly similar. I think that the biggest difference that exists lies in how students are expected to select a major. Espana has their students take an aptitude test and based on that score, they are able to select from a list of majors they are eligible for. This is different compared to schools in America but similar to the way one enlists in the armed forces. The test for that is named the ASVAB. As for the standard workload, the professor will assign a large amount of homework and have them due all at separate times throughout the semester or all due at the end of the course. This of course differs from American schools where the teacher/professor will assign a homework assignment and expect it the next class period. 

On average for Spain, it takes four to five years to graduate just like American school systems. Also similar to America on some cases, the student will only take classes directly correlated to their major. This can be compared to trade schools and some colleges. Students also like to participate in sports in their downtime, also very similar to the US but in this case, the popular sport is futbol while the popular sport in America is football. Similar and different. I always thought it was funny that the most popular sports from the two countries share the same phonetic name but are two different sports, neither one inspired by the other. 

The students here also elect to either live at home with their parents while going to school(US Commuter Students) or a group of students will get a house together will performing their studies(US Dormitories). The school schedule is slightly different here though, the classes are just like ours but they have a scheduled mandatory siesta period. This is where the entire school system, along with shops will shut down so that people may have lunch with their families. While this can be achieved in America by scheduling your classes around this time, it is not a standard like it is here in Spain. This is by far my favorite custom here but I don't think I would exchange it for what it's like in America; just because I enjoy being productive during the sunlight and I want my classes to be done as early in the day as possible.  

Friday, June 6, 2014

Week 1 Post

To start off this blog, I'm just going to say to get it out there that Spain is in my current opinion one of the greatest countries I have ever been to. Of course that list is not very long, it easily tops all the other places I have been. Probably because I am actually experiencing the culture and interacting with natives as opposed to being on some sort of resort. It also helps that the natives speak a different language to make the experience more fun in terms of communicating.

I have noticed that just being in country and constantly hearing Spanish has caused my Spanish speaking skills to increase. I have been actively trying to learn the vocab and verb forms that way I can talk with the locals but I feel that just hearing it 24/7 is naturally allowing me to improve. As far as culture shock goes I don't really feel culture shocked by anything anymore. I blame the military but what I did and still do feel is like an alien in the country. The tables have turned where the major language spoken is Spanish and nobody but my friends speak English. I imagine this is more than likely what foreigners to America feel like when English is not their primary language. Main differences I notice in the culture are the sizes of the meals. Breakfast is extremely small, lunch is extremely large and dinner is also akin to a small snack. Siestas are also a thing in Spain, everything closes down for lunch and then they take a nap to wake up and continue their day. These are the two main differences I see in their culture compared to ours but for the most part, we are exceptionally similar so adjusting hasn't been too much of a challenge. I also typically look forward for the next day so if I am put off by anything in particular I am always looking forward and driving on.

Friday, May 30, 2014


30 May 2014

So today is the day that I set off for Spain. Excited? Yes, maybe a little. Nervous? Yeah, probably a lot. I put this off until the day I was departing because I don't really feel to much or strongly about stuff like this until a few hours until it is supposed to occur. The same thing when I was leaving for Basic Training although truth be told I was a little more nervous about that.

As for my expectations during the trip, I expect I'm going to be extremely confused for the first week or two, then after that period I will probably settle in just in time to leave and go back home. I expect that I am going to have a lot of fun and snap some great pictures. I am a huge fan of photography and do it as a hobby so that is what I am most excited about. I also look forward to the tapas. The handbook sent out talked about that and it really intrigued me. I have been away for the most part working at my unit so this will be like a nice vacation away from the blue collar work. It is a double edged sword however because I absolutely need to receive an A or an -A. The opportunity to get a scholarship from ROTC lies on this class because I am currently sitting on a 2.46 GPA and an A in the summer will boost my cumulative up to a 2.5 which is what I need in order to be eligible to receive it. And I really don't want to take second session summer courses. I don't have the money. This means I'm going to have to buckle down and study study study. I'm sure being immersed along with the help from the professors will allow me to accomplish this task.

Aside from academics I look forward to meeting and giving my host family my gift. I went to Ocean City a week before today and came back with some salt water taffy and a good amount of sunburn. I feel that the salt water taffy would be a good gift because it is a very cultural part of Maryland and I thought it would be cool to share as a thank you for housing us and sharing their culture.