Thursday, June 28, 2012

Can I have a Visa Appointment with some Drama on the Side?

Go Butler Bulldogs? 
     On Tuesday, Sibley and I reunited to head to Miami for our visa appointment at the Spanish Consulate. We had planned for Sibley to meet at my house, and just before she left, she called with some news of her own. After asking for another admission letter from Alcala that would include her new passport number, she had only thought to check it for the correct number. However, upon checking her papers she realized that it read, “Sibley Brown, of ">Butler University>, has been accepted in the program.” What?! We didn't really know anything about Butler University, but we were sure of one thing: Sibley doesn't attend school there. Little did we know, that wouldn't be the biggest issue.

     Sibley made it to my house, carrying with her plenty of paperwork proving that she attended UCF, and we went on to Fort Lauderdale and then Miami in the morning. Faced with traffic, we still made it to the Consulate with twenty minutes to spare. I was extremely excited, wanting to take pictures of everything and put it down as a fun and smooth experience. We got to the waiting area, sat down, and waited. The excitement continued to grow, a wide smile never leaving my face. I kept watching the screen, waiting for my number to appear. Finally, I was just one number away.

     Then, like a reaction to a sudden clap of thunder, shock and and fright shuddered through me. I realized with a sickening pit in my stomach that I didn’t have my passport. I knew with absolute certainty that somehow, after my check, double check, and triple check, I had missed one of the most important parts of the whole visa application process. The excitement vanished and was replaced with panic. And just then, my number appeared and it was time to face it. I hurried into the room, fright evident on my face. I quickly explained the situation to the woman at the desk and begged for a solution. She listened, and with the patience of someone who deals with similar problems every day, she told me, “Don’t worry. Don’t worry. It will be okay. You can send it by post. Don’t worry.” I breathed a sigh of relief and she looked over the rest of my documents. These, I knew, should be okay.
     Yet, that was not all. We had thought that by showing that the program provided health insurance, and that we were indeed accepted into the program, that we would have sufficiently proved our coverage. However, we found out that we need something that clearly states our name and the fact that we will be covered. That shouldn’t be very difficult to obtain. We have already emailed Alcalá and asked for the appropriate documents.
     So, in the end, after my meticulous organization, I still managed to forget a huge part of the application. During the preparation process, both Sibley and I have had our fair share of passport, so I think we are due for a break, haha. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Spanish Spanish

This map shows where Spanish is spoken today.  The darker the blue,
 the higher the percentage of Spanish-Speaking population.

The Spanish language is spoken in more than twenty countries across the Americas and the Caribbean in addition to its country of origin, Spain.  As a non-native speaker, it’s easy to assume that the language is pretty much the same everywhere you go.  When you think about it, though, there are significant variations in the way English is spoken just within the United States.  I am originally from Florida, and but my family moved to southwestern Virginia when I was eleven.  The thick Southern accents in my new town were so different that I found a lot of people hard to understand.

As I’ve gotten further along in my Spanish classes, I've learned that of course, Spanish is the same way.  Here in the United States, I’ve been taught Latin American Spanish.  Little emphasis is placed on the vosotros, the informal plural second person—essentially the Spanish equivalent of y’all—because it is not widely used.  At least, not widely used outside of Spain.  In Spain, it is commonplace.  So the vosotros and its corresponding verb forms are fairly unfamiliar to me, and that’s one piece of grammar I’m expecting to struggle with at first.

A Spanish tortilla!
Another way in which the Spanish language is distinct in Spain is called the seseo.  El seseo refers to how in Spain, many syllables that are spelled with s, c, or z are pronounced with what sounds like a soft th, such as in the English word “think.”  To an American, this sounds a bit like speaking with a lisp, but it is simply a part of the accent.  This means that in Spain, my name will probably be pronounced Theebley.

In addition to differences in grammar and pronunciation, vocabulary also varies between Latin America and Spain.  A word can mean two different things in each location. For instance, in Latin America, a tortilla is a flat food made of corn or flour.  In Spain, however, a tortilla is a lot closer to what we Americans would call an omelette, made with eggs and potatoes and cheese.  This Spanish tortilla sounds delicious, and I can’t wait to try it! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

If You Turn on the Radio, Love is 90 Percent of the Music.

     And with the above quote from Enrique Iglesias, I begin an introduction to the wonderful music of Spain. With strong connections to the foundations of classical guitar and flamenco music, Spain holds a rich musical heritage. However, to prepare for our trip abroad I have chosen to focus more on the popular music of the country.
                First, I must begin with Enrique Iglesias. While mostly Miami-based, this gorgeous singer was born in Madrid, Spain as the son of the famous singer Julio Iglesias.  He helped to introduce Spanish music to the United States, performing the first song in Spanish on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.  He has also had success as a songwriter and has had some experience with acting. He appeared alongside Antonio Banderas and Johnny Depp in Once Upon a Time in Mexico and appeared on Two and a Half Men and How I Met Your Mother. Above is the music video for Cuando me Enamoro featuring Juan Luis Guerra.              

      Next, there is a hot new artist in Spain, Pablo Alborán.  He released his first album just over a year ago, and since then has had enormous success in Spain. Today, he has 2 hits on Spain’s Top 20 and was nominated for 3 awards at the 2011 Latin Grammys.  I think he has a very unique and interesting way of singing. Also he is muy, muy guapo! Here, he is singing Perdóname. 
      Finally, I will mention Juan Magán. His sound reminds me of Pitbull, and in many ways I think his contributions add a similar style to the music he creates. He has collaborated with many famous artists such as Selena, Juanes, and Nelly Furtado. With 3 songs in the Spanish Top 20, he is a major pop artist. I first came across his name when he worked with Venezuelan artist Carlos Baute, one of my favorite singers, on the song Amarte Bien.