Tag Archive: expat

The Enchanting University Tunas

  One of my favorite grad student memories is of the first time I ever heard the university tuna. It was a magical and wonderful moment that I shall never forget. (Spoiler alert—this is not about chicken of the sea!) A group of us was sitting at an outdoor café in El Barrio Húmedo of …

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Carnaval, carnaval te quiero

Everyone has heard of Carnaval in Brazil, and Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but did you know that this same holiday celebration is a HUGE deal in Spain too? I didn’t and I have to say it’s like nothing I’d ever seen before! It’s like Halloween on steroids with parades that rival Macy’s famous one—IN …

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Caramelos de San Blas

All over the northern hemisphere, February is a cold and dark month. Spring seems forever away, and the light and gaiety of the holiday season is far behind. It’s not surprising that it’s a month when colds run rampant, and old remedies for the common sore throat once again assert themselves. When I lived in …

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Happy New Year!

¡Feliz Año! ¿Que tal las uvas? This is an expression that will be said thousands of times today in Spain. “Happy (New) Year! How were the grapes?” No, it’s not that everyone owns vineyards, and grapes are not code for anything else—they really do mean, “How were your grapes?” To understand the question, allow me to …

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Villancicos: Spanish Christmas Carols

(Several quick notes before you begin reading this blog post: unless you are from Spain and already know what I’m talking about, this post is best read with access to the internet—and perhaps headphones—so you can listen to the songs as I discuss them. Also, for most of them, you might want to minimize the …

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Christmas in Spain: Belenes

  Everything about being in Spain was so new and different for me, that it’s no wonder that Christmas was too. I grew up with Santa, Christmas trees and stockings hanging over the fireplace, and naively thought these were universal. Not so. Santa only recently got exported to Spain and is still not very popular. …

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Thanksgiving

My first Thanksgiving in Spain was marked indelibly with the feeling that something was “wrong” as I went about my day; it felt like there was a hole there. Sure, the weather was cold and it may have even snowed. I spent the day with friends who were becoming as close as family. Turkeys are …

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That awkward moment when you don’t know what it is, but you eat it anyway: pulpo

Being the only foreigner in a small city, and a student, had its advantages. I was especially lucky that all of the women who lived in my dorm saw it as their imperative to “educate me” in the ways of Spain. Thus, when we weren’t touring the country-side, my dorm-mates often took me out on …

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Cuenca, anyone?

Lest you get the idea that I ONLY like northern Spain, (perhaps from reading my post about the Las Médulas) today’s story is about another neat little place, southeast of Madrid, called Cuenca. It’s an amazing city whose early inhabitants, desperate for flat land, decided to build these huge stone buildings right smack on the …

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Hunting for Setas

Ever held back, afraid, and later realized that your fears were misplaced and you missed out on an interesting experience? Living in Spain, especially that first year, was a series of adventures, most of which I enjoyed thoroughly. But this particular outing happened very early in my stay, and I had not yet learned to …

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