Saturday, July 21, 2012

We're maybe a little excited.

A few days ago, I was sitting in the living room when I heard Amanda start yelling from her room.  “SIBLEY SIBLEY SIBLEY, check your email, CHECK YOUR EMAIL!” As she came bursting into the living room, I pulled up my email in order to learn why my normally calm and collected cousin was shouting at me and bouncing off the walls.
This is pretty much what she was doing.

Sure enough, I had an email from the study abroad office.  I opened it and saw that it contained our homestay assignment for this fall.  Amanda and I are going to be roommates! (Again!)  We had requested each other on our housing questionnaires, but that was no guarantee that we would be together, so I was excited and relieved to see that we will officially be living with the same family.

Even better, the email contained a letter from that family.  It was written in Spanish, which, while not unexpected, we still found really exciting.  They are a family of three—a couple and a son several years younger than us.  In the letter, they explained that they are a thirty minute walk or a fifteen minute bus ride from the university, and they are looking forward to helping us have una experiencia inolvidable en Espana, an unforgettable experience in Spain. 

Of course, after reading all of that, I was as excited as Amanda, so we bothered our other roommate and probably the residents of the room below us by dancing around the apartment like crazy people.  Now we’re working on a letter back to our host family, but it’s taking a while to figure out, in Spanish, how to express how much we are looking forward to meeting them and how much we appreciate them opening their home to us.

Summer seems to be flying by.  We leave six weeks from tomorrow!


  1. Spanish Etiquette Tips
    In Spain, when meeting someone, shake hands with everyone. Start with the oldest and don't forget to shake hands with the kids, too! When it comes time to give gifts, don't leave the kids out either. Bring them something from your hometown, like the shirt of a local sports team.
    Spaniards tend to be very patriotic and proud of their heritage, and because of this it's important to learn a bit about Spain's etiquette in order to fit in and respect those around you. Below are some tips to teach you about Spanish etiquette.
    1. Dress Attire
    o DO dress stylishly, but modestly. Dress nicely for casual events as well.
    o DO wear nice accessories.
    o DO wear conservative suits and ties for business events. Avoid loud colors.
    o DON'T wear shorts in public.
    2. Table Manners
    o DO remember that dinner is around 9 PM. Some restaurants won't get hopping until 11!
    o DO rest your wrists at the edge of the table when eating.
    o DON'T eat until the host begins.
    o DON'T eat with your hands. Not even fruit!
    o DO give a toast if you're either the guest of honor or the host. The host gives the first toast and the guest of honor gives a toast later on in the meal.
    o DO put your knife and fork on your plate parallel with the handles facing to the right to show that you are done eating.
    o DO remain seated until the guest of honor gets up.
    3. Tipping
    o DO tip a little bit, but only if you want. Leaving a tip isn't customary in Spain, but sometimes people will leave a small (5%-10%) tip or just a few coins.
    4. Gift giving and Accepting Gifts
    o DO open your gift immediately.
    o DO give a high quality gift, perhaps something name brand, but nothing too extravagant either.
    o DO wrap the gift nicely.
    o DO give gifts such as brandy or whiskey.
    o DON'T give dahlias, chrysanthemums, white lilies, or red roses if you choose to give flowers. Flowers should also be given in odd numbers, except for unlucky thirteen.
    o DO give a gift from your hometown. For children, local college or professional sports team paraphernalia makes a good gift, such as shirts or baseball caps.
    5. Greetings
    o DO shake hands upon meeting someone, including the kids. Start with the oldest people first.
    o DO expect a kiss on each cheek (starting with the left cheek) or a hug from a woman you are familiar with. Expect a pat on the back or a quick hug from a man you are familiar with.
    6. Visitors Etiquette
    o DO bring a gift to the host. Desserts, flowers, or an alcoholic beverage all make a nice gift.
    o DO find out if your hosts have children, and bring a small gift especially for them.
    7. Business Meeting
    o DO be punctual. The Spanish have a very relaxed view of time, but as a foreigner, it's good to be punctual.
    o DO get your business cards printed with the information in Spanish on one side. You should also bring any printed materials translated to Spanish, even though most business people in Spain speak English.
    o DO be patient when it comes to negotiations. Business people in Spain can appear to be a little disorderly, with many people speaking at the same time. Negotiations also might proceed slower than you're used to.
    o DO be aware that dining is important to business relationships in Spain. Your Spanish business associates are likely to join you at your meals.
    o DO remember that many times the first meeting is simply to get to know each other and start the relationship. Business may not occur at all in the initial meeting.
    o DO be prepared to give a gift when a successful business agreement has been reached.
    The etiquette list might seem a little overwhelming, but you'll catch on as you go! Just keep an open mind and be polite throughout your trip. Have a great trip to Spain!

  2. C:\Documents and Settings\lib-staff\Desktop\Zombies and Bacon Manufacturing Memes Wired Design Wired_com.mht

    You ladies need to create a MEME for your trip to SPAIN. See
    article above.

  3. Hi Ladies! I found your blog from Belen, who I found out is about to be your new host mom in Alcala! And I just wanted to say Congratulations!! I lived with Belen, Indy and Moi when I did my semester abroad in the Spring of 2010 and I have to tell you, you girls have the greatest host family in Alcala! They will make your transition to Spanish living so simple and fun! I'd be happy to answer any questions or just talk about the whole experience if you'd like! Either way, you are so right to be this excited, you'll have the time of your lives!! You can find me on fb or shoot me an email, !


  4. Hi! Thanks for commenting and now I'm even more excited about this semester! We leave the day after tomorrow, so we're in the middle of packing. When you went, is there anything you didn't bring but wished you had, or brought but didn't need? Thanks!