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Cities I Miss About Spain

Things I Miss About Spain

I’ve been in California for more than one year now. That’s not a long time far from my country, but enough to get to know myself a bit better.

Being away from home is an enriching experience, especially if you want to prove yourself that adjusting to a new place may be easier than you think. Of course, every person is different and what I find to be “easy” may not be that easy for other people. It always depends on the circumstances.

With that being said… What are some of the things I miss about Spain?

The Food

The Food - What I Miss About Spain

Spanish Market (via flic.kr)

The cuisine, the ingredients, the variety and the flavors that I like. Special mention to two kinds of product that, although personally not my favorites, are pretty different here in California: the Spanish churroswhich have little to do with that extremely sugary doughnut that I’ve seen in the US, and the bread (that “European Style” bread sold by some grocery stores like Safeway has little of European… trust me).

The Schedules

There has been a huge controversy about whether work schedules in Spain affect the country’s productivity and bla bla bla…  I don’t want to join the debate. I just say that I like to observe signs of human life after 7 pm… and that doesn’t mean going to party every night. There’s a balance.

Spain Nightlife

Don’t you think? (via flic.kr)

The Seasons

Spring, Summer, Summer, Summer… Oh, Southern California! You drive me crazy sometimes, your never-ending Summer confuses me and makes me miss the Winter. Is it even possible to miss the cold weather? The answer is YES. It’s weird but possible. I though I came from a hot country… until I experienced a Winter in Los Angeles.

 The Culture

I read, listen to music and watch movies in English because I like it. However, when it comes to enjoy some culture in my language (i.e. watching a Spanish movie without having to wait four moths for the DVD or opting for pirating) things get really complicated. Same happens with books: although Californian public libraries have a good variety of Spanish literature, most bookstores offer a very poor selection (a bunch of bestsellers or the four same classic titles for high school students). I suppose this is the way it is… but not being able to find a single bookstore with a worthy selection, makes me feel sad. Maybe I didn’t look around enough.

The Country Itself

Now that I’m visiting so many places in California and other states, I realize there are many cities in Spain that I’ve never been to before. When I go back, I’d like to experience all of my country’s cities. That should be fun and enriching too.

Cities I Miss About Spain

Cudillero, Asturias, Spain (via flic.kr)

There’s a lot of other small details I miss about Spain, but anything really pisses me off. I like California (Northern and Southern), I like the people, and I’m having a great time. Just if California and Spain could be closer to each other… but that, unfortunately,  is impossible.

And you… what are the things you miss about your country while living (or traveling) abroad?

Little Talk in Los Angeles

Arriving in Los Angeles: Story of an Adventure

Arriving in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Downtown (via flic.kr)

Arriving in Los Angeles from a city more than 5 miles away, even in today’s globalized world, may still be an adventure. I came from Europe ready to study and enjoy the stay… and I certainly did it. The proof is that I’m still here, livin’ California.

But… What were some of the (small) things that surprised me at first?These are some of the details I remember of my first days adjusting to my new life:

The Bus Bell Cord

I thought bus bell cords were a thing of the past, a extinct species that only our parents’ generation could have sometime used to request stop… but it turns out that they are still around. Many buses in Los Angeles (not to mention San Francisco) are still equipped with this “ultra-modern” technology.

The Trash Room

“So, the door next to mine is not my neighbor?” No, it wasn’t.  It was the trash room and was there to make my life much more easier. No more crossing the street during the winter wearing a coat to hide my pajamas. Just a few steps and… work done!

The Carpets

I don’t like carpets. In fact, I hate carpets covering the whole floor because I find them ugly and easy to get dirty. I’m sure they have pros and cons, but I just see the cons. I’ve moved a few times since I found my first apartment in L.A, but carpets seem to be a pretty common characteristic in some Californian houses. Why?!?!

Little Talk in Los Angeles

English Conversation (via flic.kr)

Talking to Strangers

Not everyone that approach you in the street for no reason is a crazy person or someone looking for spare change. Some people just like to talk… (seriously) and that may be good to practice a little bit of English.

The Hotels Converted to Apartments

The first time I entered my building I get shocked. The apartments were just normal apartments, but  the lobby looked like an actual hotel reception with those high ceilings, rococo chaises and… a piano! Just in my area there were a few buildings like that: “The Bryson”, “The Wilshire Royal”, “The Talmadge”, “The Gaylord”… and so on. I feel I’m missing some important (and interesting) part of  L.A’s History.

The Skyscrapers

Okay, we have skyscrapers in Europe too, but that doesn’t make the L.A urban landscape less impressive. Every time I visit any American city’s financial district I feel like I was playing again that board game I used to play when I was little: the “Hotel” (or “Hotels” as you may call it), a sort of Monopoly.

The Bus Drivers

Bus drivers deserve their own post. They are not just the employees that drive you to your place, they are the people you say “Thank you!” when you get off of the bus, the ones that scream to people to squeeze a bit more, the ones that announce the next stop with a weary unintelligible voice and the ones that, as if they were in a raffle, pick the megaphone to announce the weather or make a joke when they are in a good mood. I love bus drivers, I’m tired of Madrid automatic recordings.

As you can see, arriving in Los Angeles for the first time may be sort of an adventure where one has to discover the little treasures that the city hides.

What are some of the things that you like/dislike of L.A? I’m sure there are a lot of things that I forgot to mention!

American English LOL

Learning American English The Hard Way

American English Dictionary

Ai lof yu, English (via flic.kr)

American English can be tricky sometimes. When I first came to the US I realized that my English vocabulary was limited and a little out-of-date. I lacked some basic expressions necessary to adapt to the new situation but instead of panic, I learned to relax and keep my ears open to new words.

Although I had previously studied English in high school, I decided to enroll in an ESL institute for some months, at least until being able to feel comfortable with my speaking. After 9 months of  classes, I was somewhat ready to attend University. The important expressions, however, I learned the hard way.

These are some of the American English words that I found extremely useful and surprising:

Shut the f*** up!

It’s true. Bad words are easy to remember and one of the first things people want to learn when studying a foreign language. In this particular case, I didn’t ask for the word, I simply couldn’t avoid to hear it. The situation was kind of funny, though: I was in silence at home while some homeless guy was yelling in the street. Just then, one of my neighbors put his head out of the window to pronounce the magic words: “Hey! Shut THE F*** up!” That was pretty rude… but it made me laugh anyway.

Jewelry (The American English Version)

This wasn’t a new word to me. My high school English teacher taught me a lot of vocabulary like this… except that she did it differently. I knew the British version J-E-W-E-L-L-E-R-Y, so when I first saw a jewelry sign in L.A, I was terrified of how people could misspell their actual business name. Then, after noticing that there were hundreds of ‘jewelries’ like that, I looked at the dictionary to learn that…well, this was the American way.

Chickenpox

“What is that chicken thing?” That’s what I though when I first read my friend’s email saying that he wouldn’t be able to work for some weeks because his niece had “the chickenpox” and he had to look after her. I had never before wondered what was the English word for varicela  (that’s how we call it in Spanish), so I had a hard time to figure out what a chicken and a little girl could possibly have in common. Now I know it.

FYI, DIY, YOLO, ASAP, MIA, LMAO, AKA, AFAIK…

OMG! Do you have abbreviations for everything? LOL.

American English LOL

Yeah, I really LOLed (via flic.kr)

Go-Getter

Not sure if this is daily American English, but I learned the word on TV when a guy defined himself as a “go-getter”. I found it pretty arrogant but people started to clap at him, so I guess this is something positive even when you proudly apply it to yourself.

There are dozens of different American English expressions that I’ve been accumulating since I came to California, and I assure you this won’t be the only post talking about it. I have much more funny vocabulary to share with you.

What do you think are other common expressions that Americans use (especially Californians)? Leave your comments below!