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.

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!

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