Thanksgiving in Spain: Nov. 21- Nov.27

7 Dec

In case you were concerned that my European life is too glamorous, I wanted to let you know that I got stuck in an automatic door on Monday. Yes, it is possible to do that. The entrance to the university has two sets of doors that slide open. As I was walking up, I noticed that the doors were both open, so I just strolled through like an normal pedestrian might. I saw that the second door was closing, but I continued walking as the doors always open back up, right? No. Apparently they don’t. The door shut with me in the middle. I had to thrust forward and wiggle myself out, all while the security guards are staring. It was just another hilarious moment in the life of Rebecca Jaeger. I could not even look them in the eye as I walked past and swiped into the building. And, let me tell you, it was very stressful walking through the doors on Wednesday, for I was very afraid that it would happen again. Luckily, I’ve been fine ever since.

Ignacio and I had the pleasure of spending time again this week. This week’s adventure consisted of coffee at the Palace Hotel (one of the fanciest hotels in the city). The best thing that he told me this week was that whenever we are together and see people that he knows, he has to clarify who I am (his English teacher) so that they don’t get the wrong idea about us. That comment really made me laugh. These experiences you just can’t make up.

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Inside of the Palace Hotel

My classes went well this week. More discussions about popular culture and differences between life in the United States and Spain. I learned that there is no vaccination debate here in Spain, like there is in the United States. My favorite moment from class this week came from my Segovia group. As I was getting up to change the slide on the Powerpoint, a student told me that he had a question. So, I sat back down, very curious as to what he was about to ask me. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “What do you think of the American dream?” Definitely unexpected. But, if there is something I am becoming prepared for in Spain, it is to expect the unexpected.

I don’t think anyone has every asked me to define what I consider to be the American Dream. It is moments like this where one truly has to think about aspects of their country and how to explain it to outsiders. His question prompted a very interesting discussion about the American Dream vs. the Spanish Dream (which they don’t consider to exist). I felt very proud to be able to explain my thoughts on a small piece of the United States to them. And, in case you were wondering, I do believe that the American Dream still exists.

And yes, Thursday was Thanksgiving. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: being in another country on Thanksgiving is really strange. It was just another Thursday where I got up, went to school, and worked, all while the family back home is hanging out and thinking about all of the calories they are going to consume. I’m lucky that my Mom makes all of the same food for Christmas, so I don’t have to worry about going for too long without some turkey and stuffing.

I did celebrate Thanksgiving a little bit. First, by volunteering at an event that is held by American Space, which is a program run by the Embassy that offers programming for Spanish people to get to know more about the United States and its culture. So, on the night before Thanksgiving (Thanksgiving Eve, in my humble opinion), they held an event where children could come, listen to volunteers read books about Thanksgiving, and do other fun activities. Now, I’m a good reader, so I decided that this volunteer job would be perfect for me. Well, guess who got assigned instead to face-painting. That’s right, this girl. Yes, the same girl who had to do extra credit in art class in order to get a good grade. While I graciously agreed to the job, I warned the coordinator that I was no Picasso. Let me tell you, this activity was one of the most stressful things I have done since coming to Spain. Little children and their parents staring at me expectantly while I decorate their faces and pray that it will come out okay.

So for most children, I gave them the option of me drawing something that I could handle: a heart, a star, and I even mastered a butterfly. Well, when I offered that to one girl, she looked at me and said, “Dinosaur.” And who am I to crush a little girl’s dream? So I regrettably agreed. And it was a disaster. It ended up being a big green blob with a long tail. It was terrible. I was laughing out of utter shame. Thank goodness her mom played along and told her that it looked great, when it really was an indistinguishable etching. And, the best part was when the coordinator of the program walked in and after asking us how it was going, said that she saw a little girl with something on her face, but she couldn’t identify what it was. And, when she asked the girl, the girl told her it was a dinosaur. I, red-faced and laughing because of the pure ridiculousness of the situation, admitted that the drawing had been mine. So, whenever you are having a bad day, just think of me drawing this utterly terrible dinosaur on this poor girl’s face. I still have nightmares about it.

On the actual day of Thanksgiving, I spent it pretty much alone in Segovia. Good times. There was a lovely Canadian couple who wished me a ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ and it was pretty cute. I did have a turkey sandwich for dinner, so that was my tribute to the great feast that is Turkey Day. I am already anticipating Christmas dinner. Little does Bonnie know, but I’m expecting her to make enough stuffing so that I can eat leftovers for a week.

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Thanksgiving, Spain Edition

I continued my culinary adventures over the weekend when I decided to try ox tail and squid. Something about being in another country makes me want to try some of the more exotic things on the menu. I also get great satisfaction about reporting the new foods that I tried to the crew back home.

The final event of Thanksgiving weekend was going to church on Sunday. I know, what a crazy life I lead. It was the first Sunday of Advent and I also needed more pictures of this edition of the blog, so I figured this was my chance. I made a good decision because it turns out that the Bishop of Madrid (I think) was the priest giving Mass. And, they clearly pulled out all of the stops for him. Usually I find masses in Spain to be less thrilling than ones in the US. From what I have observed, they have less music, less opportunities to participate, and are quicker. I just thought that this was Spanish tradition. However, the mass with the Bishop was much more reminiscent of masses in the United States. Hmmm. Now I’m starting to think that it’s not tradition that is different, but perhaps the Spanish prefer a nice, quick mass when the Bishop isn’t there. Very interesting.

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The Cathedral’s Advent wreath

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Madrid’s Cathedral

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That’s all from this side of the Atlantic! Happy Thanksgiving to all and to all a good holiday season!

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