Showing posts from August, 2012

A Word about the Six Flags of Texas

In the description in this blog’s header, it says, “This twentysomething Texan goes to the land of the first flag that flew over his state.” Now, for those unfamiliar with all things Texas, the last phrase in the description alludes to the six flags of Texas, a brief outline of Texas history in which we list off the six nations that have governed the land occupied by the State of Texas from the time of Columbus onward. It’s a familiar trope in Texas but not well known outside. Therefore, let me explain.

The first flag that flew over Texas was the flag of Spain. (Hence, the clever description linking myself, a Texan, and my place of residence for the next year.) For three centuries, the Kingdom of Spain counted Texas as part of its empire, but lost it in 1821 when Mexico gained its independence.

The second flag belongs to the Kingdom of France. Although it lasted five short years (1685-1690), the failed French attempt to establish a colony along the coast inspired Spain to begin coloni…

Bought the Transatlantic Plane Tickets

Since my visa came in the mail a few days ago, I bought my airplane tickets to Spain yesterday. I was originally planning to take advantage of Iberia’s Special Student Offer (which also applies to language assistants), but as I was about to pay for my tickets, I realized they didn’t accept my credit card company—which means a loss of cash back rewards. So, I hopped over to US Airways’ website (where they do accept my credit card) and found a ticket that was $85 cheaper: $1,000, all fees and taxes included.

I’ll leave the US in late September with a short layover in Philadelphia (gotta love US Airways hubs!) before the long overnighter to Madrid. If I have any luck at all, I might get a few hours of sleep.

Let the packing begin!

My Spanish Visa Arrived—It’s Officially Official Now!

I opened up the mailbox this afternoon and was initially surprised to see a letter-sized USPS Priority Mail cardboard envelope inside; I couldn’t remember ordering anything that shape recently. But when I saw the address in my handwriting on the front, I realized that the Consulate of Spain in Houston had approved my application for a student visa and had sent it back glued in my passport! Hooray!

The days of waiting on Spain to get their act together are now over. (I’m gonna eat those words pretty soon here, though, I’m sure…) From finally getting off the waitlist in early July, to getting my school placement in late July, to applying for my visa in early August and receiving it now, in late August, I can now officially officially say I am going to Spain. What a relief!
I had applied in person at the consular office in Houston on August 2 and the visa says my application was approved on August 13. Ten days after that, it showed up at home.
Next step: buying plane tickets.

17 English Names for Spanish Places

People often have their own, peculiar names for foreign cities and countries that don’t speak the same language that they do; for example, what we call Germany, the Germans call Deutschland; London is known to the French as Londres; and in Mandarin Chinese, the U.S. sounds like the word for “beautiful country.” Spanish place-names in the English language are no different, although the ones that have been changed were usually historically significant.

Here are 17 of the most common Spanish places that have different names in English. (Just so you know, on this blog, I’m going to use the Spanish names (the ones on the left) instead of the English ones, except for the Balearic and Canary Islands.)

Andalucía >> Andalusia
This autonomous community is found in the south of the country. “Andalusia” comes from the Arabic al-ʼAndalus. (Compare French, Andalousie, German, Andalusien, and Italian, Andalusìa.)

Aragón >> Aragon
This autonomous community is found in the north central part…

How to Apply for a Student Visa for Spain at the Houston Consulate


For Spain’s North American Language and Culture Assistant program, you work 12 hours a week as a teacher’s assistant in English-speaking classrooms. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in doing, check out my post on how to apply for the program. However, once you’re accepted, you’ll have to apply for a student visa, rather than a work visa, in order to work in Spain as a language assistant. The government technically classifies the program as “continuing education” and you officially receive a “grant” each month…whatever. At least the visa process is simpler!

In this post I’ll explain how to apply for a student visa through the Consulate of Spain in Houston. This information applies only to those served by the Spanish consulate in Houston; i.e., residents of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and, of course, Texas.

The Houston consulate’s website offers how-to-apply PDFs for the generic student visa as wel…

Villanueva del Arzobispo Is Theatrical, Evidently

A week ago I was browsing YouTube in hopes of finding an amateur, iPhone-recorded video of the Spanish town of Villanueva del Arzobispo, the place I’m going to be a language assistant in next school year. I was floored when I came across this video with professional, aerial cinematography and a Gustav Holst soundtrack:


Here’s what the narrator is saying in Spanish…
     Villanueva del Arzobispo.
     Una de las llaves de la comarca de Las Villas.
     Un bello escenario entre las cuencas altas de los ríos Guadalquivir y Guadalimar.
     Cerca ya de las estribaciones de la Sierra de las Villas, y de Cazorla, Villanueva del Arzobispo fue fundada por Don Pedro Tenorio, Arzobispo de Toledo.
     Su primitivo casco urbano, al que parecen llegar los vecinos aires Manchegos, aparece dominado por la Iglesia de San Andrés, edificada sobre una antigua fortaleza.
     Villanueva del Arzobispo, una histórica encrucijada entre las tierras altas de Jaén y los campos de la Mancha. …and in Engli…