I’ve had a lot of misunderstandings relating to language since coming to Spain, mostly relating to the fact that my Spanish is a very rough work in progress. But sometimes my friends and acquaintances just say funny things.
“Tinto is my Spanish friend.”
Our program organized an “intercambio” party for us to mingle with a bunch of Spanish university students. One of my goals while in Spain is to make Spanish friends, so I was really excited for the night. However, my wallet had been stolen the afternoon before the party, so by the time I made it to the bar, I was not in the mood to mingle with strangers and make small talk (especially in Spanish). So my friend Karlee (who was kind enough to mope with me) and I stocked up on free drink tickets from our program director’s husband, who was giving them out by the handful. Although we didn’t make any real Spanish friends, we became the best of friends with tinto de verano (wine mixed with fanta—it’s amazing!) over the course of the night. Not that it did much to make me forget my troubles, since I looked at the bottle of premade tinto the bartender poured into my glass, and discovered it only contained 4% alcohol. So I drank away my troubles with glorified juice.
“It’s expensive because the boobs are heavy.”
My friends’ and my favorite place in Barcelona became the closed market on Las Ramblas, specifically the chocolate stand. One day we decided to buy picnic food at the market, and spent close to half an hour looking at the assorted truffles and liquor filled chocolates—trying not to stuff it all in our bags and therefore break our frugality pack. We picked out three chocolates each, and that was that, until I saw giant boob-shaped chocolate. My friends occasionally refer to me as “sex girl” (because I’m in SHAPE—Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators—so I can any questions relating to sex or sexual health, not for anything naughtier!). So, Barcelona boob chocolate seemed an appropriate purchase. However, when the sales lady told me the total price for my chocolate, it was 4 euros more expensive than my friends! She apologetically told me it was because my boobs were really heavy. The 4 euros were totally worth it, as the chocolate was delicious, and we got a lot of quality laughs making jokes about my expensive boobs.
“Hold on a second while I throw away our lettuce.”
I adore my host mom. But her salads occasionally leave something to be desired. At lunch and dinner, my roommate Christine and I usually receive a plate with wilted romaine or iceberg lettuce, occasionally with a few slices of raw onion, or if we’re really lucky, with a piece of tomato. While this isn’t my ideal salad (I’m a big fan of the ones that defeat the purpose of salads being healthy, like Caesar or southwest chicken bacon ranch), I’ll oblige eating it with olive oil or pepper, although I usually decline the vinegar. However, maybe just by accident, my host mom refilled the olive oil jar with vinegar last week, making my dressing options plain vinegar or ¾ vinegar, ¼ olive oil. When my host mom eats with us, I manage to choke down a bite or two, but at dinner, she works and can’t eat with Christine and me, so we’ve developed a new system.
I’ve gotten in the habit of saving my plastic shopping bags, so we scoop most of our lettuce into a bag to take it to the outdoor trashcan. We leave enough to throw into the house trash so that our host mom knows we aren’t huge salad fans, but we don’t want to offend her by throwing it all away. When we go out for the night, we bring our bag of lettuce with us and try to remember to throw it in the dumpster so we don’t arrive at a club and throw romaine on the dance floor.
“These boots are not made for walking.”
Living in Spain requires a lot of walking. You may think that it’s a long walk from The Keg to Bobb, but that’s nothing compared to living in an apartment 40 minutes away from the University of Sevilla and having two or three 3-4 hour breaks between classes that often require going home.
But simply walking to and from class in Sevilla is nothing compared to the miles I log in my boots on trips. I love walking, especially since Spain is absolutely beautiful, but as Karlee said in Barcelona, “these boots are not made for walking.” I don’t mind standing out as American with my fashion, since it’s nearly impossible to emulate Spanish trends 100%, but I draw the line of dressing like an American at tennis shoes. I know it would be better for my feet, but my map and incessant picture-taking make me feel enough like a tourist, thank you very much. So I wear boots every day, which I feel is an acceptable compromise between flats with no support whatsoever and tennis shoes.
My mom and I often share boots, and I usually compromise and let us buy boots in her size (one bigger than mine) since it’s not “us” buying them, it’s just her. But I stole one of “our” pairs of boots to take to Spain, and wear them practically every day. However, on trips, my feet start to feel the minimal arch support and cushion as I wander around museums and old monuments all day. We often have to take a few coffee breaks a day to give our feet a break. As a result of my trip to Barcelona, I now have an appointment with a doctor to see if my foot has a stress fracture or if I just strained it. (My boyfriend thinks I have Metatarsalgia, which I think sounds like a STI, so at least it would be amusing to see people’s reactions to that ailment.) I guess I’ll suck it up and wear running shoes from now on.