Wednesday, September 12, 2012

¿Vale? Vale.

We’re settling into our routine now.  Daytime feels like daytime, and I get hungry at roughly the appropriate hours.  It took a while to get used to the late lunches and dinners, but they feel pretty normal now.
Anyway, today I thought I’d write about some of the small but interesting differences we’ve noticed, and about a couple of the Spanish words we’re learning.  So here are a few observations…

-It seems as if everyone owns a dog.  The narrow streets, the parks, and even the mall are full of dogs on leashes.  We’ve seen all shapes and sizes, but smaller ones are more numerous.

-Smoking is far more common here than in the United States.

-Drivers respect crosswalks.  If you’re standing at the edge of the street at a crosswalk, cars will brake hard to stop for you, even if they could easily drive past before you reach their lane.

-Serving sizes of beverages and desserts are much smaller than in the U.S, but serving sizes of food are much larger.

Vocabulary time!  The most commonly used new word we’ve heard is “vale.”  Pronounced with that Spanish sound that lies somewhere between “v” and “b,” this word means roughly the equivalent of “okay” in English.  Like “okay,” it’s a versatile word.  It can be a question, as in “meet me here at 7, vale?” and it can also be an affirmative answer to such a question: “Vale, see you then.”  Some people say it a few times in a row.  When we were watching a soccer game at the park, we repeatedly heard players say, “Vale, vale, vale, bien.”  Where ever we go, vale seems to be the word we hear the most.

My other new favorite word is “prórroga.”  It refers to the extra time that takes place in a soccer match if, at the end of regular time, the game is tied.  I like this word so much because it is the quintessential r-rolling word.  These Madrileños here sure can roll their r’s, and when the professor of my futbol class said the word “prórroga” a few times, I was so distracted by how awesome it sounded that I almost missed the definition.  Luckily for me, he repeated it a couple more times.  I love the sound of Spanish.
Vale, that’s all for now.  ¿Vale?


  1. Tell us about the current styles of Spanish youth--clothing, music, hair/makeup, sports, etc.

    One phrase that stood out was "professor of my futbol class." By what title do the PE coaches go by in Spain?

    Have you tried a Spanish red wine? Vale?

  2. I'll leave a fashion discussion for another post, but I thought I'd just clarify that "my futbol class" is a class about the social, cultural, and especially the economic impact of the game of soccer on Europe. It's super fun and interesting, but it's definitely taught by a professor... I don't think a PE coach would assign us research papers and presentations! :D