Traveling the world, learning languages, and immersing myself in new cultures.

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All my travels, encounters with language and culture, and of course, learning the language.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

11 Todavía Aun Más Still Even Yet More Fun Things This American Has Learned About The Spanish Language

I know. I'm shocked too, that I could even possibly think of anymore things to add to the list of fun things I've learned about the Spanish language/culture. But, lo and behold, here's another list! Catch up with the others and then enjoy this one!

Part one - New to Spanish
Part two - Getting the hang of it
Part three - Hitting my stride
Part four - Finding myself in native territory
Part five - Feel like a native for two minutes before reality hits
Part six - Realizing that I'm nowhere near native
Part seven - A bit of hope for my mastery of the language

Thursday, November 23, 2017

11 Surprising Things One Learns While Living in Alaska

If you read my last article, 10 Things I Bet You Didn't Know About Alaska, and you're not from Alaska, you were probably amazed and bewildered by my observations. If you weren't then read the article again and then be amazed and bewildered (at least fake it!). 

The locals offered some amazing feedback on that article, which I really appreciated, and inspired me to share more about what this non-local is experiencing in Alaska.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

San Diego, California, USA: It Never Rains in Southern California

My mom is going to San Diego for a work conference and initially my dad was going to join her but now he has to work. I guess I'll be a good son and go enjoy southern California on his behalf. The sacrifices I make for my family!
Things are about to get more Funner!
Things are about to get more Funner!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Más Cosas Que Puedo Hacer En Español

Click to read English
I'm certain that all of you remember my last entry about "Things that I can do in Spanish". Despite not actually being in Spain right now, I keep improving in the langeage. I read a lot and listen to auidobokks, I watch mvoies and practice writing in Spanish. All of this helps, I think, and so I am going to share some more "Things that I can do in Spanish".

Argue with my girlfriend

Like any relationship, there are good times and... not so good times. And my girlfriend is Spanish and when we argue, I have an opportunity to quickly react in Spanish without thinking. I can speak from a position of emotion and (try) to explain my point of view and how I feel. Also, I have to listen and understand her feelings and her point of view, and her reactions to my arguments. Of course, she wins the arguments, but at least I was able to defend my position. You have to look for silver linings!

Speak with Mexicans

It's already difficult to speak English in England even though I'm American, but to speak Spanish in Mexico gave me quite a challenge. I did it successfully (tooting my own horn here) and not only could I speak with them, I learned their slang and used it in their "markets" and had a "great" time. "No lie"! I am the "best". Haha

Write and perform a song

No explanation needed, just listen to the song!


Estoy segurísimo que todos de vosotros recordáis mi ultima entrada sobre las cosas que puedo hacer en español. A pesar de no estar en España por el momento, sigo mejorando en el idioma. Leo mucho y escucho audiolibros, veo películas y escribo en español. Todo esto ayuda, creo, entonces voy a compartir más cosas que puedo hacer en Español.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

10 Things I Bet You Didn't Know About Alaska

10 Things This American
Notices About Alaska

Did you know these? Leave a comment below!

So everyone knows Alaska is the largest state in the US and that it's the 49th state to join, but after living here for just over a month, I've learned some interesting things I would have never guessed about this state. Limiting this list solely to my personal observations, I still came up with 10 enlightening tidbits. How many of the following did you already know?

Monday, October 9, 2017

A Weekend Getaway to Fairbanks, Alaska

From Anchorage to Fairbanks

Drive up to Fairbanks to see Alaska's 3rd largest city, and with hopes of seeing the Northern Lights (aurora borealis).
On the open road to Fairbanks, Alaska
On the open road to Fairbanks, Alaska

Thursday, September 28, 2017

This American's Guide to Pamplona

The Guiri's Guide to Pamplona

After living almost three years in Pamplona, I am unequivocally and indisputably qualified to give advice about what to do and how to live in the city. I received a certificate from the ayuntamiento and everything! Read on and soon you'll be as qualified as me to speak on everything Pamplonés. You could also just go to the tourist office.
Encierro statue
The encierro statue on Carlos III
The Guiri's Survival Guide to Pamplona
History The Basics Nightlife Food
Tourism Green Space Leisure Basque Influence
Shopping Famous People Events Random Tips

Friday, September 22, 2017

This American's Survival Guide to Spain

Thinking back on my experiences in Spain, I realize that others could learn from my victories and mishaps. But, instead of telling them what they should do, I will simply describe my experiences and what I learned from them, kind of like a story.

So, I present the totally awesome (and totally non-exhaustive) survival guide for guiris in Spain. Most of these should be applicable anywhere in Spain, but just know that the majority of my experiences come from living in Pamplona, Navarra.

Three things that determined my experience

  1. Input - researching activities, having friends that recommend things, and then actually doing stuff.

  2. Perspective, not circumstances - how I viewed the experiences. What could I learn from the negative experiences that would make future experiences better?

  3. Habits - finding a routine is very helpful for adaptation and adjustment in a new situation. But, I didn't let habits keep me from stepping outside of my comfort zone to experience new things.

Friday, September 15, 2017

5 Times When Knowing French Made This American Mess Up In Spanish

I can say that knowing French before learning Spanish definitely made learning Spanish much easier than had I not learned French. The grammar, latin rooted words, reflexive verbs, and sentence structures are similar in the two languages. However, they are not the same language and there have been a few times when relying on French to try to speak Spanish did not end up how I hoped.

Check out my article on French vs. Spanish!
photo credit


Friday, September 8, 2017

10 More Differences This American Notices between Europe and the USA

Last time I traveled to the US from Europe, I saw some differences and I thought I thought of all of them. Well, I'm back in the US and I've found some more differences! Again, I am doing the unspeakable by lumping all the countries in Europe together, haha.

How are the US and Europe different?

1. In the US, prepaid cell phone plans are robbery. The cheapest I've found is about $30 for unlimited calling/texting and 1GB of data. In Spain, I paid 7€ ($8.50) for 50 minutes (never used any), 200 texts (again, unused) and 1GB of data. In Belgium, I paid 12€ ($14.50) for unlimited calling/texting and 2GB of data.

2. In the US, it is legal to pass on the right side in a car. In Europe, this is unthinkable and dangerous. 

3. Europe has limited options on custom license plates, usually limited to subtle designs. In the US, you can customize the words, add pictures, among other options.

4. When new tech is released, the US gets it right away and  it's cheaper - tvs, phones, drones, headphones. Currently, the Galaxy Note 8 costs $929 (779€) and in Europe it's $1204 (1009€). The iPhone 7 took almost a month after the US had it in stores, to arrive to Europe stores. The Galaxy Note 5 was never for sale in Europe.

5. Customer service in a department store in the US, 15 different people will offer to help. In Europe, you have to set off an alarm to get someone to look in your direction. 

6. In the US, it is very easy to buy over-the-counter medication, and in large doses, that normally you have to have a prescription for in Europe. 

7. The US has free bathrooms in most stores. Europe is a mixed bag, but many times, you incur a ridiculous expense.

8. After living in Europe and documenting a year of wine in Spain, I have a new appreciation - and expectations - for wine. In the US, a glass of wine is super expensive, and the American wines are not that good to be paying a premium.

These are more specific to my personal behavior

9. When I see something - a statue, monument, landmark - in the US with European heritage, especially a country I've been to, I get so excited. In Europe, when I see something with an American name, there's no feelings. 

10. Piggybacking on the last one, when I see something - a statue, monument, landmark - I take photos and do handstands in them. When traveling in the US, even if it's something new, I'm a lot slower to pull the trigger on a handstand and a photo. 

 Skopje, Macedonia
Skopje, Macedonia
Bonus. WiFi is readily accessible almost everywhere in the US - restaurants, parks, businesses, etc. In Europe, there is often WiFi, but you have to track someone down and get a password, if they even know it and are willing to exercise #5 above.

What do you think?

Do you agree or disagree with my list? More to add? Dispute? Have you noticed these differences? Check out the first article in this series here!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Mexico: How Little I Knew About My Next Door Neighbor

Traveling with Ainhoa to her old stomping grounds of Guadalajara and then to travel through Guanajuato, León, and Puebla, before hanging out a few days in Mexico City.
Ainhoa and Tim pose with Mexican flag
Viva Mexico!

Interesting observations about Mexico

  • Mexicans are humble, honest, and generally friendly. 
  • Mexicans put chili on everything. No, seriously, everything.
  • Many things named after Miguel Hidalgo (Mexican revolutionary).
  •  Public bathrooms cost between 3-10 pesos, including some stores.
  • At the toilets, they give you a certain amount of toilet paper, or there is one roll outside of the toilet, and you take some in with you.
  • Mexicans speak in the simple past, like the Asturianos
  • "Alto" instead of stop signs. (Morocco is the only other country I've ever seen it say anything other than "stop").
  • Mexicans drive very aggressively. 
  • 'E' for estacionamiento instead of 'P' for parking, unlike rest of world.
  • Mexican street sellers are loud, but not aggressive (read: bothersome) like in some other countries.
  • Despite the intense heat, people have on long sleeves and even jackets, in the middle of the day. 
  • The women wear a lot of makeup.
  • Mexicans aren't fat but also no one is skinny. 
  • Volkswagen beetle may be the official car of Mexico.
  • Mexicans don't throw toilet paper in the toilet, but in a trash can. 
  • Mexico is more similar to US when it comes to smoking - they do it way less than in Europe.
  • In Europe you see people with fútbol shirts (i.e. Barça, Man U, Bayern), but in Mexico you see American cities and (all) sports teams.
  • I learned many new words, and new definitions for words I already knew.
  • The fruit here is so good: bananas, papaya, guava, dragon fruit, mango, zarzamora (blackberry).


Friday, August 18, 2017

This American's Spanish Experiences as Told by Infographics

Infographics are awesome. They give you info... graphically. You get a lot of information, quickly, and in an interactive way. Click on an interesting picture and you are taken to a webpage or video that gives you more info. Compare differences and similarities between things, but in a fun layout.

I have done five different infographics that give my readers (that's you!) beautifully designed pictures describing my experiences in Spain. Qué aproveche!

Everyone loves food!

TMax Upside Down - Handstands & Travel Fitness

Basketballin', but not in Spain

Questions and Speaking Spanish

Teaching in Spain vs Au pairing in Spain

Which is your favorite infographic? Leave a comment below!


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Stuff My Roommate Says (Think You'll Understand All of Them?)

Many of us have people in our lives that are... well, you know, "uniquely entertaining". It could be that buddy who has absolutely no filter and just says whatever they are thinking, despite the repercussions. Or, maybe it's the drama queen/king who can make a bad day at work seem like nuclear war. I know a few of these people, but none of them deserves their own TV show more than my roommate, Roberto. 
New Year's in Pamplona, Spain
New Year's in Pamplona, Spain

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Southern Spain Road Trip 2017: Skipping San Fermin for Summer in the South

A Hot Car Ride to Madrid

Load the car with camping gear and head south into the blistering heat. The plan is to pueblear down to Granada, next to Almería, and then up the coast to Alicante. I want to visit Murcia, which will be the 16th comunidad that I've visited, of the 17 in Spain (the Canary Islands is the only one I haven't been to). Ainhoa will do all the driving because I'm not good with a stick-shift (aka, useless). 
Over 2,000km in 7 days
Over 2,000km in 7 days
Head out the afternoon before the first day of San Fermin. It's a hot car ride at 36°. We somehow miss the highway and take the longest route ever. Arrive in Madrid and stay with Ainhoa's aunt and uncle, Pili and Ricardo, who are gracious hosts and feed us and provide wonderful company. They recommend we do in Úbeda and Baeza on our way to Granada, so we add them to our list.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

How Having A Car Makes Life Easier... Sort Of

It's funny that I've had this draft since the middle of 2015, yet now it seems like I need to change the title, hence the "...sort of". Let me start at the beginning. Having a car is awesome. It is very useful for traveling long distances with friends (Pamplona, LisbonCádiz, León, Les Cases, and Galicia road trips), it is useful lugging heavy exercise equipment to and from workouts, and it's just convenient for going to the movies or anywhere late at night when the buses have stopped running.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Barcelona, Spain: More Coca, Si Us Plau

Ainhoa and I are heading to Barcelona to hang out with her sister, Irantzu, and some other friends we have there. It is also during the fiesta of San Juan (or Sant Joan), so let's see how the Catalans celebrate compared to the Navarrans.
At the national museum of art, looking out on the city
At the national museum of art, looking out on the city (on day 2)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Puebleando the Pyrenees: Spain and France

A summary (then you can skip to the photos)

The viejo monasterio de San Juan de la Peña
The viejo monasterio de San Juan de la Peña
(sounds better than the old monastery of Saint John of the big rock)
Ainhoa's parents have loaned us their van and we put a makeshift bed in the back and plan to camp each night on our trip as we tour around the Pyrenees mountains. We plan to circle around the mountain range into France, and then cross through it on our way back into Spain.

Monday, June 5, 2017

¿Sabes qué me saca de mis casillas? pt.6

Pues no voy a quejarme más de la burocracia y estupideces municipales porque es demasiado fácil y común encontrar lo malo en la cosas gubernamentales. Hoy, voy a quejarme de las cosas un poco más personales aunque imagino que son también universales.


Friday, May 19, 2017

The Best and Worst of Pamplona

So, I've been living in Pamplona for two and half years, and I can now say I understand what makes the city so great... and not so great. I have chosen to omit things that can be found anywhere in Spain, like bureaucracy and sense of time. Here is my list of the top and bottom, the coolest and lamest, the best and worst of Pamplona.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

6 Things This American Has Learned From Traveling

We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.

Reflecting back on my last few years of travel around Europe, and I've realized that I learned quite a few things that, otherwise, I would not have learned. These aren't enlightened discoveries, but simple things that I think have made me a better person.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Puebleando to Andorra

A Day in Huesca

Head out in the morning toward Huesca. Stop for almuerzo along the Gállego River, watching kayakers and rafters go down the river. Go up to Los Mallos de Riglos and see rock climbers, donkeys, vultures, and eagles. Have a pincho while watching the birds and rock climbers. Talk to some rock climbers about the climb and descent. 


Thursday, January 26, 2017

14 Más Still Even Yet More Fun Things This American Has Learned About The Spanish Language

Oh, how long has it been since I've written about the Spanish language! I have been working on some videos lately, like the one below, which is partly why I haven't written. But mostly, I've just been lazy. I mean, I did do one, two, three, four, fiveseveneight parts already! Ok, ok. There is still so much more language, nuances, and crazy logic to uncover! So, let's see what else I'm learning about Cervantes' language.


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