Being American Abroad

"We're in Portugal," I said. "We can't get burgers." That didn't stop me from staring lustfully at the burger stand in the Lisbon food court. From twenty feet away, I could still smell all the salt, grease, and diabetes. I looked over at Bethany and Amanda, who wouldn't look at me because they were hypnotized by … Continue reading Being American Abroad

When to Play the “Foreigner Card”

Foreigners in Salamanca are called guiris. I don't know if guiris give off a particular smell, but everyone seems to know that we're not Spanish. My host mother once described my complexion by holding up a porcelain plate, and combined with my Asian-ish eyes, I'm not surprised that people don't mistake me for a local. But … Continue reading When to Play the “Foreigner Card”

No Pasa Nada

"No pasa nada." I hear this a lot in Spain. Translated in the most literal, anal-retentive way, it means "Nothing doesn't happen." But because Spanish is a wonderful language where double-negatives frolic freely without canceling each other out, a better translation would be "Nothing happens." But just as "What's up?" does not actually mean "What … Continue reading No Pasa Nada

A Spanish Breakfast

Victoria, my Spanish host mother, pushed a stool up to the kitchen counter for me. She’d laid out a box of what looked like Spanish-knockoff chocolate Rice Krispies, rectangular semi-sweet biscuits with “TOSTADOS” printed on the front, a bag of pre-toasted mini slices of bread, raspberry jam, a box of orange juice, a plastic-wrapped pair … Continue reading A Spanish Breakfast