My name is Maggie, and I’m from Wisconsin. Now, a part of me will always be from Andalucía as well. I decided to teach English in Spain after graduating from university at St. Norbert College with an Education Degree, a desire to speak Spanish and learn more about Spanish culture, and a need for adventure. So, I applied to Meddeas and I fortunately became a Meddeas Language Assistant.
From the very beginning of my time here, I wanted to capture as much of the “authentic Spanish culture and life” as I could. That meant everything from a flamenco competition, to dancing through the streets of my pueblo, slicing ham right off the leg, to having popcorn and a soda at the movies with some Spanish amigos; or watching a fútbol match and playing volleyball with my students.
Hence, my video project: a compilation of some of my favorite sights and sounds of the culture of Spain, along with unique Spanish phrases I’ve learned along the way.
Sentence 1: “Observar el mar”
Previously living in landlocked Wisconsin meant that I had only seen the ocean a handful of times before I came to Spain. Thankfully, my immense fear of the ocean has decreased, and my appreciation of it has definitely increased. While I still prefer only going so deep that I can still touch the ocean floor, it’s a little less dangerous and a lot more fun than I had thought.
Sentence 2: “Aprender en la pescadería”
Living by the ocean meant that there was a LOT more seafood around me, and boy was it fresh! Sometimes, when the wind was just right, you could smell a nearby fish market. Our class even took an excursion (field trip) to learn about typical foods of Huelva. We stopped by many different areas, but I think the girls most enjoyed learning about lobsters, crabs, octopi, and fish from the friendly clerk at the fish market.
Sentence 3: “Hacer una fiesta”
When in Spain, you do as the Spaniards do… and in that case, when Spanish people have a party, you are always invited to join in. From birthday parties to first communions, they celebrate anything and everything, and have plenty of food (and dancing) to supplement the festivities.
Sentence 4: “Comer jamón”
At parties, or even just in the family kitchen, you will almost always see a nice leg of ham out on display. This is one of the most fascinating Spanish food traditions I’ve seen. I’ve learned the science of selecting the best leg of ham, and the art of cutting a nice piece straight off the leg… but that’s top secret information, so I can’t tell!
Sentence 5: “Echar una siesta”
Adjusting to the rhythm of Spanish life was a challenge for me at first. Meal times, bed time, and school hours are later, which was something to get used to. However, I have to admit that, on several weekend occasions, I took advantage of the afternoon nap time. And while the stereotype that we all take siestas every day isn’t true, it is a welcome way for many to rest and relax on the weekend.
Sentence 6: “Explorar la naturaleza”
Huelva, the province where I lived, was pretty unique in that it had both access to the ocean (with beautiful beaches) as well as a mountain range in the north. This meant we had a few exciting hikes out in the wilderness and lots of walks on the beach.
Sentence 7: “Tomar el sol”
Not only did Huelva have an incredible landscape, the climate was wonderful as well. There’s ALWAYS sun. Though it does get pretty hot in the summer, many people escape to the nearby coast, and in the winter, there is enough sun that it’s still pretty comfortable. Snow is something only seen on vacation to the mountains, and there certainly isn’t a need for a hat, scarf, and mittens.
Sentence 8: “Maravillarse con las vistas”
I had the most incredible friends: locals who accepted me as a part of their group, and showed me many parts of Spain I would have missed if I were “just a tourist.” There were many amazing sights to see, and they knew the ins and outs of the area, and now, I do too.
When I decided to apply, I also wanted to get more experience teaching bilingual students. I was paired with a wonderful host family and a great school and soon realized that I would be learning just as much (if not more) than I was teaching. My video touches on the multitude of lessons I’ve learned about Spanish Culture and Traditions while living here, or as much as three minutes of video can include. And although there’s much more I could have written, here’s a bit of background for each point.
The experiences featured and the Spanish traditions, as well as so many more will surely stay with me for years to come. I couldn’t be more grateful for everything it has given me, and all the opportunities I had to give to others.