The Day of Love and Friendship

It has been said that “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” We see what others have on Facebook and we long for the same things. As we get caught up in thinking about what we don’t have, we never stop to think that maybe someone might be looking at our life that way. Have you ever thought that you could have something that everyone else wants? Instead of looking at other people’s lawns, we should work on watering our grass, taking care of what we have. Do you have a close relationship with your sibling? A grandparent? A parent? A pet? Do you have a group of friends that are there to support you, or even a best friend that you know you can trust with everything? Some people don’t have any of that. However, if there is one thing I know, there is always something to be thankful for, no matter how small.

Many people have strong feelings about today. It can be seen in the many ways that people refer to it: Singles Awareness Day, Valentine’s Day, GALentine’s Day, etc. Recently, I was trying to put together a lesson plan that included Valentine’s Day vocabulary in Spanish. When I was researching about the holiday, one interesting phrase that I kept seeing pop up was “El día del amor y la amistad” (Day of Love and Friendship). It made me really think. You can have a significant other and still not do anything for Valentine’s Day. You can be single and still celebrate the day.

When I was younger, my parents would take our family out to a restaurant every year. We celebrated a day of love, but a different kind of love. As I got older, I started celebrating the day with my friends. Currently I am in a relationship, but I have yet to spend the day with my significant other. Two years ago, we weren’t able to celebrate together, so my friends and I put together a delicious potluck dinner in our apartment at school, celebrating a day of friendship. Last year, I was abroad in France while my boyfriend remained in the United States. I couldn’t be with him, and we still talked on Skype, but I went to the movies with two of my good girl friends and then we went out to a restaurant. Both of those days were special days, even if they were not spent in the way that the holiday gets commercialized.

Your special someone does not have to be your significant other. You do not have to have romantic feelings for someone to make today special. If you have a significant other, then great! Celebrate the day with that person and remember to love them every day. If you don’t have a significant other, then spend the day with whoever your special someone is. Celebrate the other kinds of love that exist, and remember to love that person every day as well. Valentine’s Day is a lot like Thanksgiving. We tend to get caught up in life and forget to be thankful and love others daily. Don’t limit love to one day.

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Formality in Spain vs France

Growing up, the biggest and only problem I had in communicating with people is that I was shy. When it came to talking to people, I would simply address adults as Mr., Mrs., or Ms. and anyone who was a teenager or younger was addressed by their first name or nickname. Now that I am considered an adult, life has gotten to be more complicated. There is some confusion as to how to address others. Do I address other adults my age as Mr. or Mrs. or do I just say their name? Usually a tap on the shoulder or addressing the person by looking at them when speaking to them works. This is where I view other languages as more logical than English. In languages like Korean, Japanese, Spanish, and French, there are different levels of formality. However, those levels of formality do not always transfer culturally.

In class in the United States, I always referred to my language teachers formally, using the “usted” form in Spanish and the “vous” form in French. I view my professors or teachers are people who are older and wiser; people that I respect. Therefore, I used a higher form when speaking to them. My classmates, on the other hand, frequently used the informal way of speaking to someone to talk to my professors. Surprisingly, the professor would not correct them. It could be because we are studying a new language and they are more focused on if we get the grammar right. On the flip side, I have also had professors that have asked me to address them by their first name.

My experience abroad has been different, at least in the French classroom. I have seen the formal way, or “vous” always used between teachers and students even though the students may be way younger than the teacher. It surprised me that a teacher would refer to one student directly in a formal manner.

Although Spanish is a romance language like French, I was surprised to see that Spain did things quite differently from France. One cultural aspect that I had a hard time getting used to during my time in Madrid was addressing those above me informally. My host mother, who was in her 70s, asked me to address her like a friend. The staff at the agency and my professors all asked me to address them informally when speaking to them. Being raised in a culture where I had to be formal to everyone who was older than myself or in an authoritative position, I found it hard to address anyone as something other than formal.

My observations are solely based on my experiences when I went abroad. I hear that in Latin America, the situation is different from that of Spain. Has anyone else ever had this experience? If you have experienced anything similar to what I did, or even very different, please leave a comment below! I would love to hear about your experiences!

Going to the Movies in Nantes

In the past two to three weeks, I have gone to the movies four times.  I never go that often back home.  I never went when I was in Spain.  However, it was something I wanted to experience while being abroad.  There are a decent amount of American movies in foreign theaters as opposed to foreign films in American theaters.  Every movie I have seen in Nantes, as well as the one time I went while I was in Marseille, was an American movie.  All of them but one were dubbed in French. The most recent movie I saw, Divergente 3: au-delà du mur also as known as Allegiant in the U.S., was shown in English with French subtitles.  I knew that some theaters abroad provided showings in English with subtitles of movies.  To be honest, I don’t really know how that works, if there is some kind of schedule that tells you what kind of showing they will have.

Is going to the movies in Nantes cheaper than in the United States?

No, not necessarily.  Student discounts are very useful.  If you are going to the Gaumont theater in Nantes and you are a student, bring your card with you.  The staff will check it as you are purchasing your ticket.  If you do not have the card then they most likely will not give you the discount.  Tickets are normally 11€ but with your student ID you will only have to pay 7,50€.  When I was in Spain, I had heard that there was a certain day of the week where movie tickets were cheaper for the whole day. I don’t know if this is true in Nantes.  I haven’t heard anything.

Just like in the U.S., the theater will try to take your money by way of selling food.  They do offer tiny pints of ice cream, salted popcorn, M&Ms and other candies, and popcorn sucré which probably means kettle corn.  I have brought super cookies from La Mie Câline into the theater and have eaten them during the movie.  If you have a bag, it will get checked before you go over to the area with all the theaters, but I have never been given a hard time for having a super cookie in my purse.  I don’t make it obvious that I have one, but I am pretty sure they see it when they check my bag.

One thing that I find different from the United States is that previews seem to drag on. Like I said, I do not really go to the movies back home, but previews don’t seem long compared to what I have sat threw here.  When I saw Allegiant, the movie was supposed to start at 1:45 but that was when the previews started.  The movie itself started at 2:06.  Previews in the U.S. are long but I don’t know if they are that long.

I cannot believe it is already halfway through March!  More than half of my semester is over and I know the rest of it will go by even quicker.  Stay tuned for more posts about my experiences abroad and travel advice!