Posted in Anecdote, Colloquial, Couch Talks, Daily Life, Foreign cultures, Lifestyle, Spain, Tales of My Adventures, Visiting Spain

Spring and Window Shopping in Spain: Malls and Fashion trends

Hola Cttbies!

¿Qué tal? (How are you?)

It’s spring! (At long last). The weather is great here (an average of 20°C). The spring breeze is so sweet here, and the birds chirp so beautifully during the day!

On the other hand, it’s also good if you’d like to have a quiet trip, because there is less touristic affluence and hassle. I must say, the best months to visit Spain are March to early June, or September to mid November.  In summer it’s too hot, especially in August the temperature goes up to 40°C , and there blows a hot wind from the desert that is completely unbearable; in December to January it’s too cold and windy, not the best time either. All year long, it’s like the god of fire and the god of ice fight all year long in Zaragoza.

Busking at Paseo IIndependencia, one of the main streets in Zaragoza’s town center.

From 24°C to 11°C on the same day,  Spring is the time of what I call “quitaipón de ropa” (remove and wear clothes). Temperatures in my town are very unstable, with very high differences in intervals. at one moments you’re sweating buckets and at another, you’re freezing. The wind here (the infamous “Cierzo”) is mortal so you can catch a cold if you let your guard off.  It’s advised to take a light coat with you even if you don’t end up wearing it. Yesterday on my way home, I couldn’t walk properly because the Cierzo kept pushing me from behind. That’s how strong it is!

When the weather gets warm like this, I feel like I’m reviving after a long slumber. I’m in a good mood nowadays, and so are many others, seeing how the streets are busy with plenty of people. The covid 19 incidences have lowered so the authorities lessened the restrictions.

What a better way to celebrate than to go to window shopping or visit a mall?

I am mostly working from home nowadays, so every chance to go out is fine. I met up with a friend and we paid a visit to Puerto Venecia, the most beautiful shopping center in Zaragoza. Built in 2012, it caught the hearts of thousands of buyers and even caused the death of one of its predecessors, Plaza Imperial Mall, which was deserted. Puerto Venecia is bigger, more beautiful, closer in distance and even has a pond with Koi fishes. Sorry, you can’t beat that. The other malls luckily survived because they’re close to the town center and, very importantly, because one can’t go to the same mall all the time. We humans need variety…

This time, I only went window shopping because the economy is kind of low (Ahem). My heart was breaking as I saw all those beautiful things from afar… But still, I had a lot of fun. Actually, I’ve never laughed so much at clothes in my life. The fashion here is a bit peculiar, usually a lot of colours with a touch of eccentricity. Trend wise here, youth clothing is gradually turning Kpop-inspired or anime-inspired. It seems kanjis and dragons are in season. and nowadays, teens here are into colourful bob cuts or “anime skirts” (my bad, I don’t know the exact name).

In the perpetual quest for creativity, some brands went a bit overboard this year. I took some pictures of the clothing I found the most bizarre… Ahem… striking (pictures below). After a long, harsh year, maybe they’re trying to lift our mood… I’ll just take it that way. I just hope they’re confortable to wear…

Is it Spring where you live as well? How is it in your country?

Warm regards, and wishing you a wonderful week!

Posted in Daily Life, Foreign cultures, Identity and Culture, Lifestyle, Spain, Tales of My Adventures, Trips

Spanish ravishing strolls: discovering the city of Zaragoza

Hola CTTBies!

I hope we are all doing well, and that we’re all safe!

In today’s post I will be sharing more about an important aspect of Spanish social life: the art of taking strolls. I’m also taking you on a visual tour of Zaragoza, the town were I live!

In a previous post, I mentioned that Spaniards spend a lot of time in social interactions, and therefore, it’s very common to come across “improvised hangouts”. It does not necessarily refer to parties or meetings over meals. Spaniards also spend a lot of time outside their flats, walking, chatting or just having fresh air. Their cities are designed for that purpose. For example, in my town Zaragoza, there are a lot of public spaces of various sizes: parks, squares, green spaces or playgrounds between buildings. There are always public benches on every street. You can see families with kids, lovey-dovey couples, young people chatting with their friends, eating snacks or listening to music, or old people getting fresh air. It was really funny for me to that even the University’s park is visited for the same purposes and even to walk their dogs. 

They also go for “tapeo” which is going from bar to bar eating “tapas” (snacks or hors d’œuvre) and having a drink.

On weekends, after church, I like walking home. I sometimes take a detour to enjoy the view. There are days when my  friends tag along. We walk, enjoy the view, sit or squat somewhere for a while, there continue wherever our feet lead us too. If we’re hungry, we go to any supermarket nearby and grab some snacks to keep us company. My town is small and very safe, so we stay out until our legs give out (before Covid-19 started, sometimes till 1 or 2 am ).

There’s always something new to discover, or things that capture our attention… We have a local saying here: “Zaragoza te enamora” (Zaragoza makes you fall in love). Indeed, I have been here for years, but it is constantly fascinating.

After the Filomena snowstorm left us covered in white, San Valero’s strong wind gushes nearly blew us away, and now… Valentine came with love in its wings. The weather is pretty more merciful these days. We’re transitioning to spring so the average max. temperature is 14°C.

As it’s getting warmer and warmer, talking strolls around the city becomes even more agreeable. It is pure goodness to see the trees bloom and to feel the sweet rays of the sun slowly warming up… I love Spanish Spring very much, I feel like I‘m reviving after the harsh winter.

I know it’s still far, but as the tropical bird that I am, I can’t wait for summer to come.

Warm regards,

Nuna Blomevi.

“Expo” Zone

Valdesparterra” and “Arcosur” residential areas

I recorded traces of the Filomena snowstorm on my Youtube channel
Posted in Colloquial, Fiesta, Foreign cultures, Spain, Tales of My Adventures

Spanish Holidays: Celebrating San Valero

Hola CTTBies!

This weekend we celebrated Saint Valerius Day -Valero in Spanish- the patron of Zaragoza. More festivities! Long Live Spain! Hurray! Feliz día de San Valero, rosconero y ventolero ! (I’m flexing my linguistic skills). I said in my previous article that this post would be quirk… I’ll skip the conventional way of describing commemorations and just write it my own way (already grinning out of excitement). There I go!

Background story: Spain is an exclusively Catholic nation (official stats say 90% of the population, but truth is, many don’t really believe or they hardly go to church. Anyway… I’m just saying). The country is divided into different regions called “autonomous communities”. They are all independent, it kind of works like the federal states in the US. Each of them is also divided in provinces. So, I live in the autonomous community of Aragon, in the province of Zaragoza. Each province has a patron, which is a saint that is dedicated to them. So, Zaragoza’s patron is Valero, who was a bishop some centuries ago.

San Valero (picture retrieved from the Internet)

Personally, I have observed that religious events here don’t exactly hold a pious connotation among the population, especially the younger generations. They’re more perceived as an occasion to eat and be merry (99% party, 1% devotion). I was shocked that the biggest outdoor concerts are held at the city’s main square, right in front of the town’s biggest cathedral…

Why it is celebrated: Now, this funny. There are holidays where even the natives don’t know what the occasion is about. The feeling is just like: “Fiesta! Another day off! We get to stay home or hang out, hurray!”. As I mentioned in one of my previous articles, here every good excuse is an approved reason to relax and lounge around. As a foreigner, I have fully adapted to the local habits… 

So, I’ve been here for years, but I still don’t know why we celebrate San Valero. The only half-convincing answer I got was: “Oh, it’s because he’s our patron”. So I was like “yeah, what the heck did he do for that to happen, I mean, any great accomplishment?” I didn’t get any satisfying reply so I requested help from the greatest assistant of all times: the Internet. Thus; according to Wikipedia, he was a bishop, he got exiled, then he died somewhere else, then he got canonized (a.k.a, consecrated by the Church as a saint).

Long story short: I still didn’t get what he accomplished to receive that title… 

Plot twist: After an eternity of research, I finally got more info on one of our local malls’ website , Gran Casa. In summary, I discovered that it was because he was a martyr who got persecuted for his faith under the roman emperor Diocletian.

Fun Fact: the natives came up with this comic motto for him: “San Valero, rosconero y ventolero!”. It means, on his day he brings a strong wind and also a lot of “roscon” (a typical dessert). It’s true somehow; apart from the dessert specially sold in pastry shops for the occasion, yesterday was very windy!  By the way, Aragon is a mountainous region which is infamous for a strong and sudden wind gust called “Cierzo”. It blows unbelievably fast, all year long. A local joke says that in Zaragoza  it’s no use to do your hair nicely and it’s dangerous to wear a skirt.

I have personally experienced the cranky mood of this ill-tempered wind. I was walking on the street one day; the Cierzo was blowing so strong that I couldn’t move forward because it kept pushing me in the opposite direction. 

Special food: Spaniards make a special pastry or dessert for almost every holiday. Most of the time, it’s a “roscon”, a sort of big donut-looking bread filled with whipped cream and topped up with candied fruits. They made it for Reyes Magos (6th Jan.), for San Valero (29th Jan.), they’ll make some for Santa Agueda (5th Feb.) and then for Cincomarzada (5th March. It’s the same cake but they change the shape: the first two are donut-like, the third is shaped like a breast and the last one as a 5 (for now I’ll skip the story behind each of them).

(picture retrieved from the Internet)

How we spend the holidays:

For main holidays, concerts, parades or other cultural events are organized. If it’s a religious occasion, a huge procession is organized. For San Valero, they bake a huuuge, endless roscon and place it at Plaza del Pilar, Zaragoza’s main Square.

(picture retrieved from the Internet)

On apersonal level, Spaniards are highly social individuals. They usually gather among relatives for family lunches or meet up with friends. Thanks to their awesome culture, I have become an expert at improvised get-togethers. It’s easy: get some snacks, some drinks, a TV and call as many people as you can. Everyone brings something and we all share. The key to success: be in good company with fun people. (Important detail: here, it’s good manners to bring something with you to give to your host when you get invited somewhere! It can be food or drinks, or a dessert).

Not in the mood for socializing? No problem. My personal recipe: Stay home, eat your favourite food, binge-watch TV and sleep as much as you want. Repeat.

Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the holiday was pretty lowkey, but I was able to meet up with a friend. We wanted to go to the mall but got there too late so it was closed. We rather went for a stroll by the Ebro River (pictures below). The view was absolutely amazing and the weather so agreeable (aprox. 19°). We also enjoyed an small outdoor gallery designed by local artists to retrace the history of comics in Spain .

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this article.

Stay safe, and see you in my next post!

Nuna Blomevi.

Posted in Anecdot, Couch Talks, Daily Life, Deep Thoughts, Foreign cultures, Life Moments, Lifestyle, Story time, Tales of My Adventures, Trips, Work/Studies

The Joys and Pains of a Foreigner

Have you ever gotten frustrated by an obstacle which seemed small at first, but you can’t figure how to go about it?

That is exactly how I feel right now.

When one is a foreigner living abroad, it appears that the immigration service finds every excuse to not let us thrive and advance professionally. It’s so annoying… 

Background story: As many of you know, I am a foreign student schooling in Spain. Up till now, I didn’t have any necessity to find a job (financially speaking).  But as I’m growing older, I want to acquire some professional experience and, why not, make some extra bucks.

Look. I am fluent in 3 foreign languages. Also, my CV is overloaded with qualifications, trainings and extracurricular certifications… I have the required skills wanted for the jobs in my field and I’ve received offers from institutions who really wanted to work with me. But… 

My only hindrance is a freaking piece of paper: let’s call it the “Immigration’s green light”, a.k.a a work permit. The funny thing is, to get the work permit from them, I need a contract from a company. And to get the contract from a company, I need a work permit. In summary: They’re freaking toying with us, right?

There are small part-time jobs like tutoring or cleaning, etc which don’t need papers, but they don’t pay enough to make a decent living. So, except you’re from the European Union, the rest of us have to go through “the Overseas Aliens’ Transit Regulation”. (Excuse my language, I probably lost it out of annoyance, haha). Based on the absence of that sheet of paper, (even as a highly educated noncitizen) you are either forced to leave, or to stay in the country and not amount to much, or to sweat it (and buckets) before you can become anything substantial.

Because of that “system”, today was another failed interview for me. You know, that feeling when you’re in love with someone but the family is against you… Something like that. Worst thing, I woke up with a back pain today so I’ve been walking half-bent like a crab. Great… Awesome day…(sarcasm). I’ve chosen the title “Joys and Pains of a foreigner” because I didn’t want to scare you guys… And also because I decided to take all this positively.

By the way, when I’m feeling nostalgic or downcast, I like to play on Youtube some old songs from my childhood, or my favourite K-drama OSTs. Skillet also does the deal… When I got back home after the interview, I felt so deflated. I listened to “Saint Seya’s” opening theme and “Cat’s Eyes”, “Jayce et les Conquérants de la Lumière”, “Nicky Larson”, “Ken le Survivant”, “Sankukai”, amongst others (links below). Not only the lyrics are so corny, but the melody and the bad visual quality make me laugh so hard. And the reactions in the comment section are hilarious… Especially, the video for “Sankukai” is an antic…

Those songs from old mangas are full of warm memories. They remind me of when I was carefree and living comfortably in my family nest. Now I’m an adult living alone abroad and paying bills… Hehe (sarcastic laughter).

Anyway. My New Year resolution was to not be pessimistic. Where there is a will, there is a way. I must keep fighting for my future and to accomplish my goals. May God help us all.

Any expat friend here who can relate? You can comment below, I’d be more than glad to hear from you! 

Aside from that; maybe you’re reading this and you’re going through another type of difficulty. I’d like to share these encouraging words with you too. Whatever it is, let’s not give up! Let’s keep it up, let’s keep trying! We will knock until we get the right doors to open. Just like the lyrics say in “Jayce et les Conquérants de la Lumière”, “Si tu ne perds pas la foi, tu trouveras la voie.” (If you do not lose faith, you will find the way).

By the away, tomorrow in Zaragoza we celebrate San Valero, the holiday that I previously mentioned in the post on my New Year’s wishes. I’m thinking about writing a short article about it (with my personal quirk touch, without fault). Stay tuned!

Warms regards,

Nuna Blomevi.

Posted in Anecdot, Colloquial, Couch Talks, Daily Life, Fiesta, Foreign cultures, Life Moments, Lifestyle, Photos, Tales of My Adventures, Trips, Vlog, YouTube Channel

Spanish Wishes for the New Year

Finally!

The end-of- year celebrations are over. I get to have my first real day off since the holidays started. As an expat living alone abroad, I originally planned to spend the festivities by myself, but I got so many invitations that I went here and there, celebrating from house to house. Instead of spanning as “The Grinch” or “Home Alone”, my holiday season became “All I want for Christmas is you”. I tell you, it’s important to extend one’s social circle.

Until yesterday, I socialized, laughed my lungs out, slept, tv-binged and food-binged. (Now I am praying for discipline to go on an “effective” diet). I am not a difficult individual to satisfy. Including clothes and expensive perfumes (hehe), I find joy in these little pleasures in life. And personally, after going through certain bitter experiences, I have learnt to laugh and enjoy good moments while I can. 

In Spain, Christmas is not over until the 6th of January. From Nochebuena (24th Dec.), Navidad (25th Dec.), Nochevieja (31stDec.), Año Nuevo (1st Jan.), to Reyes Magos (6th Jan.)…  Spaniards commemorate “Los Reyes Magos”, the visit of the Three Wise Men to Jesus. Here, it’s also the day children receive their gifts. (Yesterday, I was at a get-together with some friends and we exchanged presents. I received a new bag, yay!).

Every excuse is a good reason to celebrate in this country. I heard that 29th January is also a holiday, “San Valero”. It even falls on Friday, bless God. Then we have 5th March, Easter, 1st May and many more all year long…. What a nice country to live in! They are the best at balancing work and rest. I’ve lost track of what we celebrate and why, I’m just happy to stay home or hang out. By the way, I  share videos about life in Spain on my Youtube channel. Please pay a visit, like and subscribe. Gracias! (I also created a special page on this website where I publish pictures of all the countries I’ve visited. (Click here to view Travel Gallery).

Oops… My bad. I got excited and forgot the main reason for this post…

Happy New Year, dear CTTBies! Health, Success, Happiness, Peace, etc. Amen, amen…

Ok, I will skip the usual protocol wishes, I’m sure you’ve already heard them a lot . Pardon my crudeness, you know I’m brutally honest and pessim… uh, uh, realistic. 

2021… We’re not sure what you will bring, but we are ready to take you on (since we’re already exist in this harsh world, we don’t have a choice but to keep going anyway, hehe). We are strong, we will bend but not break. There will be annoying days, but there will also be bright days. You might pick on us, but we won’t mind you. We will go through it and carry on with our lives. We will be firm until our very last breath, as we see you and other years pass by. That’s life. And we are humans, the strongest, ever-adapting creatures on planet earth. We always find a way out of the maze once we set our minds to it. And as long as there is food, housing and our loved ones with us, we can bear through anything. (My personal form of self-encouragment).

New year, bring it on! Maybe I should take that out, let’s not challenge the Universe.

On behalf of Corner and I; we want to thank every one of you who take their time to visit our blog and read our posts. We also want to express our gratitude to all of our followers. Thank you for accompanying us on this journey! We are grateful for your time, attention and affection. Thank you!

Happy New Year! Feliz Año Nuevo! 

 Besos,

Nuna and Corner Blomevi. 

Posted in Foreign cultures, Identity and Culture, Lifestyle

The story behind my webseries: “Three Expats and a Winter”

Hi CTTBies!

Three Expats and a Winter” is the first webseries I posted on CTTB. At the beginning, I wanted to talk about some cultural issues that I observed or faced as I travel around the world. Since all those experiences were too numerous to discuss one by one, I decided to turn it into a story.

The episodes of “Three Expats and a Winter” are published in a webnovel format, just like for my diary “A Writer Behind the Scenes“.

The purpose was to raise awareness about some sensitive topics such as cultural discrimination. For that reason I chose to create neutral characters to portray the story. Johnny, Malaika and Martins may be fictional, but the situations they encounter tell about the challenges that many expats face in real life. I got the idea as I started a promotional project called “Imagine Africa” to show the continent in a new, positive light, and not as a miserable, pitiful place struck by poverty, war, hunger and a cursed destination to a be avoided as the foreign media tend to display it. While I lived abroad, I realized that Africa has so many beautiful aspects (for example, its delicious food, its weather, the warmth and hospitality of people, the social culture centered on solidarity etc). I wasn’t quite content with how the foreign media seemed to always focus on the negative parts. That tendency has generated stigmatizing effects that greatly penalize Africans on the international scene. The good side is, things are changing for the better and many nationals from this beautiful continent have taken up on themselves to correct that label and foster change in people’s minds. I’ve decided to also join that great initiative, and I hope that my series will have a positive impact.

Until we meet again in my next post, take care! 😉

Nuna Blomevi

Posted in Anecdote, Colloquial, Food, Foreign cultures, Identity and Culture, Kdrama, Memes

If Korean dramas were African Dramas (I): How to invite your crush to your house

After watching so many series and getting addicted, every hardcore fan becomes familiar with some typical scenes that make Korean dramas so peculiar compared to other shows, and so enjoyable as well: the funny drunken scenes, the piggyback ride, the kiss that takes 16 episodes to happen and… the unforgettable “ramyun” invitation. What would the equivalent be in dramas from other countries?

Today, let’s convert a typical K-drama scene and imagine what would happen in an A-drama.

*How to invite a guy to your house:

In Korea: “Oppa, do you want to come over for some Ramyun?”

In Ghana: “Honey, do you want to come over for some Banku?”

In Togo: “Tonton, ava dou Akoumé zozo déah?”

***

He accepts her invitation and drives her to her residence after work. The weather is hot in the tropical country and the meal is also steamy, so he partly unbuttons his shirt. She discreetly looks over her shoulder to take a glance at the nicely shaped muscles hiding under in his corporate suit. She then quickly turns her head, not knowing he had already caught her peeking. “Your eyes might fall off, darling”, he thinks, trying very hard to hide his smile.

I should add some extra red oil in the soup”, she ponders, her cheeks lifted up by the agreable sight.

She directs him to his seat and sets the table. He takes off his jacket, leans back comfortably and inhales the spicy smell of the hot soup. He takes a little bite, savors the taste, sits up and eats more rapidly.

“Hmm, this is delicious!”, he comments. Delighted, she replies: “Yes, we are all good cooks in our family. You could eat like this every day if you want…” she subtly answers.

He smiles but he can’t reply because the food tastes too good and he is focused on eating.

She goes to the kitchen to bring him some water but accidentally trips on her way. Startled, his hand twitches, and the red oil splashes on his spotless, blindingly white and impeccable shirt.

“Goodness! We have to wash it fast, if not the stain won’t go! Let me give you something to change into…”

(The episode then concludes on a typical cliffhanger, and the ending song starts playing in the background.)

Posted in Anecdote, Colloquial, Daily Life, Foreign cultures, Identity and Culture, Story time, Tales of My Adventures

In what language do you think?

Google Translate

This is a frequent question that we polyglots hear often. Some even go further in asking “In what language do you dream?”. Even if they learn many languages, people usually think in the one they use the most. However, after a certain time of being in contact with different languages at the same time, it’s no more as simple as that.

Out of many, here are some anecdotal examples in my daily life as translator and world citizen:

  • I was watching a video in French. What the original title was:  “21 recettes rapides”.  How my brain read it: “Twenty-one recettes rapides”.
  • On a wall, I saw a Bible verse in English (Joshua 24). My brain: “Joshua vingt-quatre
  • After becoming a hardcore K-drama fan, some little words have become inprinted in my mind. Whenever I hear something surprising, I exclaim “Daebak”. When I am heavily dragging my body to stand up, I sigh “Aigoo”. When I don’t understand someone: “Mwolago”. When I’m watching something and it gets too corny, I cringe “Hajimaaa… Geumanhae…” When I see a bug daring to fly in after I leave my window open “Michyeosso?!”. When I’m extremely pissed: “Aishhhhhh” (elongated or repeated depending on how annoyed I am). “어” (eo… = uh) and “왜” (wae? = why) garnish my colloquial conversations. The only interjection that is clashing in my mind is “야!” (ya! = hey), because in Spanish it means “already”, so my cognitive juices have a hard time processing both.

This has become a part of me, and I don’t really mind even if when the person in front of me has no clue what I’m babbling about (they sometimes have to remind me that not everyone understands my random expressions). I even saved some of my contact names transcribed in Hangul. The truth is, I can read a little Korean, but my level is 10%. I am mostly motivated by my love for my favorite actors and favorite Korean food – kimchi, jjajamyeon and ramyun.Chunseong!

Actually, I used to be more fond of Japanese (which I also enjoy learning when I have some free time – and remember to do so). But it’s harder for me to access Japanese content so the Hallyu wave has taken over. Apart from “Oyasumi”, the only filler word that has survived is “Moshi Moshi” when I pick up calls from my family. Sadly, it is also close to extinction. Sumimasen. Yeoboseyo is gaining territory rather. The heart of man is unpredictable, and love has changed sides…

Let’s continue.

  • When I’m speaking French: I start to gesticulate a lot and become extra conscious of my tongue twisting in my mouth.
  • When  I speak English: I mostly feel relaxed because over the years, the filler “you know” has somehow been stuck in my head and has a certain calming effect I cannot explain. Since I listen to various sources, my accent is neither British, nor American, nor Ghanaian, or anything registered. My English is mine. Still, I express myself fluently, as you can see in my post (boasting).
  • When I’m speaking Spanish: I feel carefree and lively, and end up raising my tone without knowing. Caliente.#Mediterranean effect.
  • When I’m speaking German: I become too conscious of the fact that it’s the language I am less proficient in and it makes me speak with a low, shy voice, almost whispering.
  • When I’m speaking Mina, I don’t have a problem. I don’t think too much and I’m comfy.
  • How I write my shopping list:
Jus de fruit
Carotte râpée
Tuna
Espinaca
Carne
Yaourt
Chicken
Water
Cortauñas
  • My dilemma as a writer

“Oh my, I’m having an idea about a story. But in what language should I write? English, French or Spanish, Spanish, French or English?”. I end up choosing depending on my mood. I don’t care much though; afterwards, I’ll end up translating it anyway.

Depending on who I’m talking to – whether we are close or not, I speak “Franglish“, “Spafrench“, “Spamina” and add some random words in Korean or Japanese (it’s my way of practicing them since I have no other means). I also speak in the correct standard language of course, if it’s for professional reasons.

And you, in what language do you think?

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