Thursday, March 27, 2014

How Italians see Spaniards

Hello everyone, today we're going to talk about sterotypes, in this case, how Italians(or people in general) see Spaniard according to the most famous cliches.

When someone thinks about Spain and Spanish people maybe first thing that will come to his mind would be bulls and the so called "Spanish-style bullfighting"(Corrida in Spain), This practice where there's a "torero" fighting with a bull into an arena, with the final purpose of kill it with a sword.

A torero and a bull in the arena during a corrda
Actually this practice is decreasing of popularity, and in the only region of Spain I've been so far, Catalunya, the Corrida has been banned, so for example, you won't see any Spanish-style bullfighting in Barcelona. Generally in Northern Spain it is not so popular as it is in the Southern part of the country, so for these reasons I wouldn't recognize the entire country with this practice.

Maybe the second thing you would think about Spain is "Flamenco" a form of Spanish folk music and dance, made with those beautiful dresses, and in your mind you could think Spanish girl go around wearing it, but well, you will get disappointed because I've seen no one using it so far!

A flamenco dancer performing

Again, this is a pretty common stereotype about Spain, but this dance is mainly practiced in Southern Spain, in the autonomous community of Andalusia.

Other cliches about Spain are about food: paella and sangria, Who doesn't know about them?! :D

Actually this time I have to agree with the cliche, because these two things are really common, and if I can say, so damn good!!!

The last one I'm going to talk about is a funny one, and it's just about the language. Italian and Spanish are pretty similar languages, but there's something Italians notice about a Spaniard speaking, the use of the letter "S" a the end of the words. That's why Italians try to make fun of the Spanish speaker impressing their language putting a "S" a the end of each Italian word, in fact, Italians usually say: "How hard could be to speak Spanish, you just have to put an "S" at the end of the words!"

So for example the sentence: "Hi, how are you?" that in Italian is translated as: "Ciao, come stai?", in the Italian-Spanish impressed style would be: "Ciaos, comes stais?", and that sounds pretty ridiculous since in the "real" Spanish language it's like: "Hola, ¿cómo estás?"

Well, these are the most common steretypes that came to my mind, as a said, most of the cliches are based on true facts or traditions, but you can't judge an entire country and all the people, just basing on those. If you really have the chance to visit another country, probably you would realize that you were wrong thinking those things, and you will enjoy the discovery of a new culture!

Tell us if you know other stereotypes, or if you have some story about them, Byee :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Family welcome!

Hello everyone!

Today we're going to talk about family welcome, specifically, when you introduce your girlfriend/boyfriend to your family for the first time.

We're gonna focus on the differences between Italy and Spain about it, even though there are differences within each country as well.

Let's start with Italy, actually what I'm about to say is more common in Southern Italy since there people are more “warm-hearted”. This is a common stereotype but I can say it is true most of the time.

So, let's say you're Italian and you want your family to meet your new girlfriend, you say your mother to prepare something for lunch, but you know she is going to cook the entire world just to impress your partner (Italians! :D). When you finally show up with her at home, greetings will start normally, but your mother... she's going to get closer to your girlfriend and scream out something like: <<Welcome honey! This is your home now, my daughter!>> , I know, so awkward! I even know some mother said : <<Ohh, this one is really pretty! Not like the other ones you introduced us!>> even more embarassing! :D.
So the day is going to pass by and your girlfriend has to go through an interrogation, every kind of questions will be asked, from: <<What do you do for a living?>> to: <<How many children do you want to have with my son? And what will their names be?>> . Yes, at the first meeting! XD

Now, the day has gone, and your girlfriend passed the test, but the difficult part has yet to come, the second meeting! You remember the mother said: <<This is your home now!>>, well, she wasn't joking, cause from the second meeting she's going to see your girlfriend like this:

Yes, she will have to do all the housework: cooking, cleaning and so on. This is not, as you may think, because the mother is lazy, too busy or just evil, but is another test! Yes, she has to examine if your girlfriend is going to be a good wife for you!

But hey, if she passes all the tests, she will be really part of the family and they will going to treat her just as their own daughter.

Again, this is a pretty common stereotype for families from southern Italy, anyway, it is not always like that, and you could find families from northern Italy that do the same!

Now let's talk about Spain, first of all we have to say that it is not so different from Italian tradition, the main difference is that maybe in Spain they are just a little bit more reserved at first, but they will be as friendly as Italian families after they get to know you.

Of course you're going to recieve the same kind of interrogation as your girlfriend got, but just normal questions, like: <<Do you have a job?>> or <<How's your family?>>, so nothing embarrassing, just not try to answer something like, <<I don't wanna work>> and <<Mind your own business!>>, that would be rude and awkward and you won't see your girlfriend ever again! XD

Anyway, the funniest things i can remember about my first meeting with my girlfriend's parents are two. The face of my girlfriend while her mother was showing me photos of her as a little baby, dressed as a princess, taking a bath and stuff like that ( so cute! :D ), but I could see a mix of feelings on her face, from awkwardness to anger, all at the same time! It was so funny! The other funny thing is that I didn't know I was going to feel something too, FEAR!.

While I was watching all those old photos, her father approaches to me holding one of them, saying: <<Look at this picture, this is me when I was young, look what I used to do, I'm still pretty good at it!!!>>. I was expecting something like him swimming, or playing football, but it wasn't the case, it was a photo of him, in the army, holding a rifle!!!

I didn't know what to say in that moment, I got stuck, then I thought: "Ok, boss, i got the message!" and kept acting as it was all cool! Now when I think about it I laugh with my girlfriend, but I really had moments of fear back then!

Well this is more or less all we had to say, tell us if you had some similar experiences about it, misunderstanding or funny stuff! Byeee :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Let's learn a language!!!

Today we're going to talk about learning a new language, sure many of you want to learn a new one and maybe you want to do it on your own, but how?

Hello World! in several languages
I think that there are two ways: a longer one that I used for English and a second one, shorter, that helped me with Spanish.

With the first method you could start searching online some website specialized in teaching languages, there are planty of them on the internet, you will learn grammar, expressions and common words, so when you will have a solid base (depending on how much you practiced), you can start reading news online in that foreign language, with your good friend Google Translate helping you with that.

I link this handful extension for Google Chrome, called Google Dictionary, you can configure it with your own language and when you're reading a text you can just double click on a word to get its translation.
There's a similar version for Firefox, i haven't tried it out, but it should work as expected.

Now that you've studied grammar and expanded your dictionary it's time to develop your listening and speaking skills, how? Well, in my opinion, the best way is to watch videos in the foreign language. First of all you should start with YouTube, sure you're gonna find videos in a language about something you like, that's the key, when you start, try to watch something you're interested in. I like tech stuff and videogames, so at the beginning i started watching videoreviews about phones and videogameplay (so nerd i know! XD), but the fact is that if you listen to something you're familiar with, the comprehension will be surely better.

When you feel ready, you can start watching something harder, like tv-shows or tv-series. I do it all the time, and this really helps a lot. Obviously, you will need subtitles, I suggest at first, in your own language and when you will be more prepared, in the language you're studying. After a while you will realize that you're understanding has improved and you're dictionary enlarged. Furthermore, your speaking skills will be improved as well, even without practice, because listening a lot will help you knowing the right pronunciation of words.

As i said, this way is pretty long, but i think it's the best one if you want to properly learn a new language.
Now let's talk about the second way, i said it's shorter, but how it works? Simple, find a foreign friend!

Exactly, if you find a foreign friend, probably online, you have a great chance to learn a language without studying too much. This was my case about Spanish, it all started when I  was looking for a way to practice my English, so i found a website called "Interpals", it allows you to contact people from all over the world who wants to learn languages as well, so you could find a person who speaks the language you wanna learn and at the same time is trying to learn yours!

I found a Spanish friend there, i was not expecting to learn it, but well after emailing a while we started to skype as well, and phone each oher. I had absolutely no base in Spanish, but in a couple of months I could properly have a speech with a Spaniard without too many problems. Of course Italian and Spanish are pretty similar and this helped a lot, but I'm sure that if you find a good friend and you're really inquisitive( you have to be willing and very curious), in no time at all you will find yourself speaking a new language!

The key is to remember the translated sentences and the meaning in your native language. Actually is a method, in which you don't have to study grammar, the way you learn is by "copying" the others, and eventually you will be able to make diferent sentences, and what's better is that your friend will be there to correct you! :)

Then again, if you want a better base, after you feel pretty comfortable with this new language, try to follow the first method's steps, you will find them easier and then you will have a total "language background" and you will be ready!!!

That's all for now, tell me if you had an experience like this and if you know a better method to learn a language. Byee!!! :)

Friday, March 07, 2014

Let's go to school!!! - In Spain!

As announced, now we're going to talk about the Spanish education. It is divided in three levels, from lower one to the upper one.
The levels are:

  1. "Primaria": 6 to  11 y.o--> general subjects (General culture, Maths, languages...);
  2. "Secundaria" (ESO): 11 to 15/16 y.o--> General subjects (Better explained);
  3. "Bachillerato": 16 to 18y.o Specific subjects --> Final exam --> University
The first two are pretty basic, so we explain the third one, the most important, "El Bachillerato".
You can choose different kinds of bachillerato according to your goal, there are scientific one, humanistic this depends on the degree that you want to do later in the University. But anyway the qualification you get at the end of the course, doesn't allow you to actually be specialized in "something", this means that you won't have a specific career with that bachillerato(you have to go to college to get that), hence if you want to have a profession (and you don't want to go to college) then you have to do a professional training course called "ciclo formativo" or "formación profesional" (FP), the FP allows you to get a specific certificate once you finish it. There are many kinds of FP, there is one for each field, like healthy sciences: dietist, nursing assistant, dental hygienist or technicals ones like electrician, chemestry, business, marketing and so on.
The good thing about FP is that you also start working (making an internship) so you also learn the professional part, not just reading books in school =)

Which one would you pick??

Let me know in the comments below if you found this information useful and if you liked this post =)


Let's go to school!!! - In Italy!

In this post we're going to talk about Italian education, better said, what kind of schools and for how many years Italian students have to study.

Logo of the Italian Ministry of Education
In Italy, compulsory education starts at 6 years old with the "Scuola elementare" or "Scuola primaria"(Primary school), this school lasts five years, hence you will end it at 11 years old.
After that, from 11 to 14 (3 years) you have to attend the "Scuola media" or "Scuola secondaria di primo grado" (lower secondary school).
In these first years you're going to study the general subjects: Italian grammar, Italian literature, Maths, Science, History, Geography, Informatics, Art, Music, Foreign language[English(mandatory), French(optional), Spanish(optional)], Physical Education and Catholic religion(optional).
Once you have completed the lower school, you have to pass a final exam, and if you do, you can start the "Scuola superiore" or "Scuola secondaria di secondo grado" (High school), this one goes from 14 to 19 (if you don't fail any year!), it lasts 5 years.
There are several kinds of high school, it depends on what you're interested in, for example i did the school about Economics and Information technology; but there are schools about Chemistry, Electrician, Mechanic, Optician, pretty much every kind of job you could get in the future; each one of these schools should prepare you for the job you want to do.
In High school the first two years are general, it means you will study just general subjects, like in lower school, but deeply explained, plus some introduction to the subjects you will study later, in fact, from the third year on, you will start studying spcific subjects according to the school you've chosen.
For example, if you chose Economics, you will start studying more in detail subjects like Business economics, Political science, Commercial law and so on.
At the end of the five years there's a final exam("Esame di maturità"), where you will be tested about all you've been studying for those years. If you pass it, you get a score like 90/100 (90 out of 100) and the "Diploma di maturità" which is a certificate that states which career you're specialized in.
So after 13 years of compulsory school (so damn long!), you're ready to go to the "Università" (College), of course just if you feel like studying some other years! which I did, but finally I'm free! :)

Long story short, Italian education is structured as follow:
  1. Scuola elementare: 6 to 10-11 --> General subjects
  2. Scuola media: 11 to 13-14 --> General subjects
  3. Scuola superiore: 14 to 18-19 --> Specific subjects --> Final exam --> Diploma
In the next post we're going go talk about Spanish education, stay tuned! :)

Tell me if you want to know something more about school, university or if you want to add something interesting. Byee :)