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Showing posts from November, 2012

10 Tips on How to Stay Warm in Your Apartment in Andalucía in the Winter

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We’re already almost finished with November, which means winter is here to stay in Andalucía, the region in the far south of Spain. You’d think its latitude would protect it from the bite of cold but, nevertheless, it does get cold here; I’ve heard many language assistant bloggers mention that the “coldest winter of my life” was experienced right here. Now, I think much of that is simply exaggeration (just compare Andalucía’s monthly temperature and precipitation averages with those of, say, Chicago or Fargo, N.D.) but a lot of it has to do with facing the weather head-on. In the U.S., many of us are blessed to have central heating in our homes and cars to drive anywhere we need, so we’re fairly insulated (pun intended) from the worst of the winter.

Here in Spain, however, most apartments or homes don’t have heating (calefacción), and people use their feet instead of their wheels to pick up the milk, meet up with friends, and go to work. Naturally, winter feels much more bitter than i…

Thanksgiving 2012, Expat Edition

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This year I celebrated my first Thanksgiving away from home, but more importantly, away from Mom’s cooking. However, I did not have a complete breakdown and resort to binge eating of Spanish tortilla, jamón serrano, and cold gazpacho soup for supper. Instead, two American girls, a girl from England, and I—all fellow language assistants in Spain—got together Thursday afternoon and prepared something close enough to a traditional American Thanksgiving feast.


What was on the menu? If you’re not hungry yet, you will be after reading this list: roast whole chicken with onions, herbs, and olive oil…homemade gravy made from chicken drippings…buttery mashed potatoes…green beans cooked with bacon…pumpkin (butternut squash) pie made completely from scratch…sweet potato casserole with brown sugar & pecan topping…cranberry sauce (substitute) made from pomegranate seeds.

How did we do it? With an oven, stovetop, and a few pots, pans, and dishes, you, too, can enjoy an expat Thanksgiving next …

5 Things to Be Thankful for When Living Abroad in Spain

We language assistants here in Spain can be a whiny bunch. From worrying about not getting paid on the first day of the month (despite being warned that our first paycheck would be delayed by a month or so), to being bored in a small town, we tend to voice any and all concerns in the program’s forum and its numerous Facebook groups.

But even though we do have a few legitimate reasons to complain (not getting paid is perhaps the most likely candidate), we language assistants still have a handful of things to be thankful for during our time in Spain. In light of our recently-celebrated American holiday of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d list five things I’m most grateful for while living abroad.


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I can't believe myself. Pumpkin pie made totally from scratch while overseas. SUCCESS! A post shared by Trevor Huxham (@trevorhuxham) on Nov 19, 2012 at 12:02pm PST 1) We get to live in Europe I know that living abroad either during or after college has been a longtim…

What the Catalan Language is NOT

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Sometimes when I hear people talking about the beautiful language that they speak in three regions of Spain—Cataluña, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands—they often describe it in a way that, to me, is like nails on a chalkboard. Let me explain:

Catalan isn’t Spanish.

It isn’t French.

It isn’t a fusion/mixture/combination of French and Spanish.

It isn’t a dialect of Spanish.

It does look a lot like French, and Spanish, too; but it’s neither one of them.

It’s Catalan.

The Catalan language arose from the Latin spoken by the common people in the northeast corner of the Iberian peninsula, centuries after the Roman Empire had dissolved into the Mediterranean Sea, in just the same way as French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese similarly developed. Although, like all Romance languages, it’s related to French and Spanish, it’s nevertheless individual and unique.

For example, here’s the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as spoken in Catalan:
Tots els éssers humans neixen lliures i iguals en …

How to Dress Like a Spanish Grandpa

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Here in Úbeda where I live, the ratio of older to younger people is pretty lopsided in favor of the former, so I get many chances each day to observe retired Spaniard fashion. So today, I want to give you some pointers on how to dress like a Spanish grandpa.

By “grandpa” I mean simply the older generation of men that, for lack of a better distinction, came of age well before the end of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in 1975.

Whenever you see them walking around town (something I admire very much about the elderly here—even the slow, hunched-over, cane-using man will have his daily walk despite his age!), they will invariably be dressed in a simple, stylish, and classy manner.

While there are always exceptions depending on the person, the weather, etc., five elements define a Spanish grandpa’s uniform:

1) Flat cap or newsboy hat
Even the simple wearing of hats hearkens back to the times when most men wore hats whenever they went outside—as they once did in America, too. Of course, whi…

October Monthly Update: Getting Settled Edition

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So, I’ve decided to change up the format for my “update” posts from publishing them once every week to once per month for two reasons: First, there just isn’t enough material to justify a post every week only about my life; now that I have a routine it’s mainly working…cooking…reading…speaking Spanish…writing…sleeping. And when there is some variety—like traveling—I’ll be writing a separate post for a city trip. Second, publishing a weekly post every week for my entire stay in Spain would result in about 39 posts, which is simply too much. Therefore, I’m going to be publishing a monthly update either on the last day of the month or a few days later.


Getting settled I arrived in Spain on September 24th and spent the next two weeks settling in to the country. Some big things that I did to prepare for the next nine months abroad were: I got a pay-as-you-go cellphone, was approved for residency—my NIE (foreigner’s identification number)—opened a bank account, received my health insurance …