Perched on one of the many mountains and hills surrounding Barcelona, stands as a testament to the beauty that can be found when you mix nature and creative brilliance, specifically that of Antoni Gaudí. There are interesting shapes and curves at every corner and mosaic sculptures that make up seating. Parque Güell is a work of art to walk through and experience. As I peered out to a nearly perfect view of Spain’s second largest city last weekend, I realized I had come to Barcelona with an image tainted by stories of tourists and foreigners on spring break. In fact, I loved the Gaudi architecture, expansive museums, and the sunny beaches. And it was in the library in the Fundació Joan Miró, where I remembered learning about Miró in high school and found myself making connections between my class and the work of the artists of Cataluña.
...continue reading "Madrid: From the Inside and Out"
Latin America is like the United States in that the variety of Castellano (Spanish) in terms of the slang and pronunciation changes by geography, even within Argentina. Argentina is known for speaking a Spanish like no other Spanish-speaking country.
Rio Platanese is the variety of Spanish heard in Buenos Aires and other big cities along the mouth of the River Plate, such as Montevideo, Uruguay. One of the most noticeable differences in this dialect is the use of the pronoun “vos”, which is unique to this area. “Vos” basically means “you” and has its own form of conjugation, replacing the “tu” and “usted” from other Spanish dialects. For example, whereas in Colombia or Mexico you would say “¿De donde eres?” when asking where someone is from, in the River Plate region you would say “¿De donde sos?” Argentine Spanish is very informal, especially in comparison to Colombian way of speaking. Another notable difference is the pronunciation of double l’s and y’s as “sha”. In almost all other Spanish speaking countries you would pronounce the word for street, “calle” as ca-yay. In Buenos Aires the say “ca-shay”. The word “vaya” (go) would be pronounced “vai-ya” in Mexico and “va-sha” in here in Buenos Aires. Other parts of the country, like the north for example don’t use this pronunciation. ...continue reading "¡Cuchame chabón! (Slang in Buenos Aires)"
Hey all! So my blog post is going to be a bit shorter this week because I'm actually in the middle of packing for Oktoberfest! Obviously I am very excited for this, but it means that I leave Prague at 7 tomorrow morning and won't be back until late Sunday night (and I know I'll want to sleep when I get back) so I'm writing this post at about 11 PM Thursday night). Anyway, this week's topic is... restaurants.
You can learn a lot about a local culture by visiting restaurants. Obviously, cuisine is a very large part of culture, but it can also be an educational experience in other ways. Dining in restaurants in Prague has also taught me about local etiquette, money and prices, and even a bit about the Czech outlook on life.
...continue reading "Prague’s Restaurant Scene"
In Valparaiso, a city comprised of homes built on the hills surrounding an industrial port, there is a disconnect between its youthful inhabitants and the ocean. The Valpo Surf Project (VSP) was in part inspired by that disconnect and the need to repair it. VSP explains it’s founding as thus, “Although most see the ocean everyday of their lives, many of the city’s youth have never had the opportunity to experience the Pacific Ocean and Chile’s beaches. We wanted to create a way that Valparaiso’s disconnected youth could learn to engage with and protect the local marine environment. The resulting idea evolved into the Valpo Surf Project, a community organization that engages its young participants with the surrounding marine environment through weekly surf outings and focus on fostering three distinct components: personal character development, environmental consciousness, and English language education.” The program works with children ages 7-16 from various organizations within Valparaiso, including the neighborhood organization of Cerro Mariposa and SENAME.
...continue reading "Surfing and Stewardship of the Environment with The Valpo Surf Project"
Buenos Aires is a HUGE city. The population of the metro area brinks on 13,000,000 people, most of whom will happily tell you some of the things they love about their city, the dulce de leche, the café culture, the European architecture, the tango, the colorful barrios, and the constant chaos that strings it all together. I experienced a generous dose of Buenos Aires bedlam as soon as I arrived, smack-dab in the middle of a Subte worker’s strike, the cause of which nobody could really explain (the Subte is the BA equivalent to DC’s Metro). I even heard a local joke about being furious, but not even knowing whom to blame anymore. It had something to do with the city’s government not getting along with the regional government and deciding who would set the wage.
The strike clogged up the streets, making journeys downtown, like one to apply for a student’s visa, a total nightmare. The cross-town trip took an hour and a half of being sardine-d into a bus. The colectivos (busses) and congestion on the road mirrored a similar sidewalk situation during the strike.
...continue reading "Bouncin’ Around Buenos Aires"
Friday was indisputably the best Nepal day so far. We have been warned of "bad Nepal days," when the chaos and clamor and complete otherness of this city will break us down, and we will want nothing more than to find a couch (a considerable task, especially if you expect it to be comfortable) and demand a mocha and faster internet. But after Friday I will take those blows knowing that this semester is more than worth it.
...continue reading "Patan, Kathmandu"
So just imagine I'm having a splendid time trekking through the Tsum mountains (I've now looked them up, they are not gradual or little mountains, gah), pulling leeches off my legs (apparently leech season is almost over, but you especially can't kill them here as they're representations of water spirits from another dimension), and bathing in a stream wearing a petticoat ( I wasn't clear on this either, but apparently not like victorian underwear, but bathing shifts like the Tale of Sir Galahad, unfortunately no one here has heard of them either so some helpful monks tried to assist in my shopping for a "nightie," but I got one eventually).
Hey there! I was pretty sick last weekend, so I didn't write an entry last week. But I'm back now! So while this might be the fourth week of blogs, it's only my third post, but I'm going to call this Week 3 (because the first one was Week 0, remember?). Don't bother looking for Week 2. It doesn't exist.
When I saw the prompts for this week's entry, one jumped out at me immediately. "Tell us how to get around your city! (Describe how to take the bus, ride a bike in the city, etc.)" This is because one of the most wonderful things about Prague is how easy it is to get around! While I love DC, its public transportation, by comparison, is honestly crap. The only American city I've been to with a comparably extensive mass transit system is New York, and if you've ever been there you know that besides its extent the NYC Subway lacks in pretty much everything else... besides character, of course. It has loads of that. But really, if Prague is any indication, Europeans have the public transportation thing WAY better figured-out than us Americans.
...continue reading "Week 3: In Which Jake Espouses The Virtues Of The Systems Of Rapid Transit In The City Of Prague"
Have you ever had your breath-taken away by a spectacular performance? By people doing what they do best for a whole audience to marvel? I had the opportunity to see Carmen, a story told through the lens of flamenco, earlier last week and I fell in love. With fast-paced feet and lean, graceful arms, the dancers of Antonio Gades Company conveyed the anger, sadness, and intimacy of Carmen so well that the audience was left clapping for minutes after the show. An ensemble of singers and guitarists completed the story, singing and playing some of the most beautiful music I have heard in Spain.
...continue reading "Flying to Flamenco…But Not Really"
Alas! I am here in London after boring everyone for three weeks writing about vanities like watching TV on your computer sans pants and panicking about leaving Taco Bell.
Leaving the country for three months didn’t really hit me until my friends started sobbing at Whole Foods. It’s organic! But also humiliating
But I am here and they didn’t remove me from their country (so far) and I finally feel like a real adult person. Getting here was tough, harder than I thought it was because I had what I think was the most talkative airplane seatmate. Was he the air marshal? Probably. Actually…yes. Most definitely.
...continue reading "Jetlag: How To Wake Up In A Room And Have No Idea Where You Are"