Just three weeks into my semester abroad, I had to go to the hospital after suffering from sharp pain in my chest region. I called my doctor in Switzerland and he recommended I should go to the hospital emergency. There, I didn’t have to wait long and was able to do all the necessary examinations: An X-ray of my upper body, a blood test and an ECG. Shortly after that, I received some medication and was no longer in pain. Thinking I would be able to go home soon, I was waiting for the final results of the examinations. When the doctor entered with the results I could see on his face that I would not be able to go home soon.Continue reading “Spanish Health System Adventures”
The Fallas is a Valencian spring celebration held every year (if possible) in March. Coming to Valencia, I had of course already heard about the celebration and was hoping it would take place, as it had been cancelled the two years before due to the pandemic.
I first received some first-hand information about the Fallas (or Falles in Valencian) from a local during an organized tour around the city centre from my Spanish school: Apparently the tradition started in the Middle Ages, with carpenters burning their spare wood in spring.Continue reading “Fireworks and Lights – and more Fireworks: Fallas in Valencia”
Ancha de Capuchinos, the street right next to my apartment in Granada, is a street where you can find basically everything you need. Apart from the big supermarket Mercadona, cafés, bars and a hairdresser, you can also find several little specialized shops: a ferretería (iron hardware store), several fruterías (fruit shops), a carnicería (meat shop), a papeteria (stationary shop). Continue reading “Shopping in Ancha de Capuchinos, Granada”
Spanish speakers from the area of Granada and its surroundings have an amazingly interesting accent but one that is also really hard to understand. In my class about Miguel de Cervantes, the exact same feeling that I felt in my first Spanish literature lecture in Bern overcame me: I was completely baffled with the content of the class because I had only understood fraction of what was discussed. Continue reading “El español granaíno”
It was on my very first day I arrived in Granada that I encountered this topic. I’d heard so much about it back in Switzerland and didn’t really give it more thought when I read the words: “Por un feminismo de clase” (For a feminism of social classes) on the wall of the Facultad de Filosfía y Letras which is where I was going to be studying for the next four months. Feminism. Despite being a woman myself I hadn’t considered myself a feminist and honestly, I hadn’t ever really got involved in it. However, I had started to get used to and appreciate the way in which gender equality is handled in the German language, especially at my university. Language is such an essential part of people’s culture that it is a good starting point for gender equalization. In my linguistic classes we even spent quite some time discussing how to correctly use language in a non-discriminatory manner. To break it down in a few words: Always use gender neutral forms to address people and if not possible, always mention both genders. If you follow these steps it is a sure way that women don’t feel left out. Continue reading ““Estimados estudiantes” – Gender and equality in the Spanish language”
Moving to a different city means looking for a flat with new people to share one’s life with. It is usually a long procedure full of stress and ongoing analysis of possible variants regarding location, interior and fellow inhabitants of a flat. From my point of view it is also very important to have friendly and easygoing colleagues at home, as we are going to spend every day under the same roof. I believe that people living together need to share values and beliefs as well as interests to be able to get along well with one another in the long run. Toward the end of my stay abroad I can reflect on my flatmates who became familiar to me in a quite unexpectedly long process during the last few months.
When I arrived in Valencia, my level of Spanish was low. I had to organize myself by speaking English or by using the few words of Spanish I knew. The missing vocabulary proved difficult in the beginning. I used the few words I knew and also some English and nonverbal communication to express my concerns. After a week, I knew quite well how to use the present tense, so I began to speak a little more but I still had to prepare the sentences in my mind before I said something when I didn’t want to stop in the middle and think again. But I wasn’t too shy to speak and sometimes used words I formed with my knowledge of French, for example. In this way, people could more or less understand me. A few times I had to look up a word in the dictionary or I tried to describe it with other words. But actually, I didn’t use a lot of nonverbal communication, excepting maybe the facial expressions that helped me to make myself understood.
I have always wanted to learn Spanish as my third foreign language. It seemed to be quite easy and its sound is so tuneful that it made me get in a good mood every time I heard someone speaking it. That’s why for several years already I have been trying to begin learning Spanish by doing language exchanges with Spanish native speakers, reading websites for Spanish learners and the like. I once started with Spanish on Duolingo – an app for smartphones with interactive lessons designed for dozens of languages. Although I liked it very much and felt like I was making progress with the language, I was not that conscientious about it and didn’t continue because of lack of time.
During the past month of my stay in Spain I was able to observe many new things that I hadn’t thought about before. There are several interesting particularities about everyday Spanish life that are completely new to me. If I had to focus on the most striking one then it would be surely be on their lifestyle. They have extremely different times for their daily activities, at least compared to other cultures that I know.
I first learnt about this when I read some book guides, before coming to Valencia.