ESPAÑA: Myth vs. Reality

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After a few weeks embracing the Erasmus life, it’s time to tackle five stereotypes of the Spanish culture in search of the quintessential Hispanic lifestyle…

  1. The siesta = REALITY

Before moving to Salamanca, I was under the impression that the siesta was a thing of the past, or at least reserved for lazy summer days. Within moments of my arrival, I realised I would drastically have to adjust my body clock to fit in with the Spaniards. Not only do the vast majority of shops (and all university offices- helpful!) close between 2pm and 5pm but the academic timetable also revolves around the siesta. This means I have scarcely any classes in the afternoon. What’s the catch? Lectures starting at 7pm three times a week… The fact that nights out here start at 11pm at the VERY earliest and can end at 7.30am also makes the need for siestas a lot more understandable. Continue reading

A Rain-Softened Brit: Coping With The Cold In Calgary

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My friends and family back home just love asking me what the temperature is.  It’s pretty much always the first thing we talk about when I appear on Skype. The English have a fascination with the weather which is certainly not just a false stereotype. That’s why Calgary is so enthralling for us Brits. Its unpredictability and pretty unforgiving winter weather makes England’s look vanilla in comparison.  The phrase ‘it’s a bit nippy out’ doesn’t quite cut it when you sometimes have to walk to class in painful wind chills of around -20°C. It feels like a slap to the face. I think the coldest temperature I’ve experienced so far, was around -40°C. I think I hibernated that weekend. And the first time I saw millions of tiny ice particles glistening in the air, one bright and frosty morning, I thought I was dreaming.

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The topic ‘stereotypes’ is a difficult one to deal with – not only in a personal sense but also when living in another country, and when teaching in the classroom. On the training weekend for my placement in my German school we took part in a mock lesson about whether stereotypes are good. Difficult topic – everyone automatically said no, stereotypes are bad and false and we were advised to avoid them.

Yet according to my German flatmates, I embody all things stereotypically British.

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My Frenchitisation

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  • Step One

My sensitisation to all things French actually began this summer when I spent a month living with my good friend Lorène. I was meant to be learning about Indian culture and life, but she probably educated me a lot more. She was constantly direct – no need to worry about crossed wires – and also stylish. This sums up most french people very accurately. Especially in Paris! everyone in Paris is good-looking or, at the very least, they know how to dress. At least I knew what was in store from an early stage. 

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