No matter how many years I spend outside of the U.S., I’m still American through and through – and damn proud of it, especially considering the week my country is currently having. I also jump at any chance I get to be festive, so I’ve made a point to celebrate Fourth of July no matter where I am in the world.
Fourth of July last year in Sydney. Bonus points for converting Australians?
America’s birthday two years ago fell in the middle of my epic five-week trip through the Balkans. Spending the day on the Croatian island of Hvar (more on that when I get to the full trip recap in a future post!), my group of four American expats was determined to honor Independence Day in one way or another.
It’s time for the next installment of my Travel Talk interview series, and today I’m speaking to another English teacher in Spain through the auxiliares de conversación program. Ashley of Cómo perderse en España told me about her experiences in the northern Spanish region of Cantabria, plus her new home of Burgos.
Ashley at the Alcázar of Sevilla
Hi Ashley! What’s your story?
I’m originally from St. John’s in eastern Canada, and I moved to Spain about nine months ago in mid-September to work as an auxiliar de conversación in Castro Urdiales, Cantabria. However, that’s not quite the start of my Spain journey. I’ve been dating a Spaniard, born in Donostia and raised in the province of Burgos, for nearly four years. We’ve spent years going back and forth, living in different countries (U.K., Canada, France and Spain) or doing long-distance, but over the course of time I started to get the feeling that our relationship would lead us to Spain.
One of the best things about cinema is its ability to transport you across place and time. The Spanish Film Festival in Australia a few months ago teleported me to Spain and Colombia, and, lucky me, I have new teleportation plans in place: the Scandinavian Film Festival hits Australia in July.
At the age of two, I was able to explore Scandinavia on a Baltic cruise that took us to Sweden, Denmark, and Finland (as well as the Soviet Union just months before it fell!), but seeing the region again as an adult is something I’m eager to do. I’m even one-eighth Swedish, so perhaps the homeland is calling?
If I were to make a list of countries I’m dying to get back to, Peru would be near the top. The country captivated me when I traveled there in the summer of 2011, but there’s loads I have left to see! Jonathan contributed a guest post a few months back featuring Peru’s famous icons, and he’s back to highlight some of the country’s best travel secrets. How fantastic do these places sound?
When visiting a foreign country, the temptation is always to visit the most famous sites, but Peru has many hidden or less-famous wonders that are often just as outstanding and equally worth visiting. Of course, there are loads of very well-known and famous places to visit in Peru, and these are often on many bucket lists or travel checklists, but it is equally important to travel off the beaten track and try and visit some of the lesser known destinations.
Five minutes in Fiji, and you’ll no doubt have already heard a few mentions of “Fiji time.” As Fiji’s particular brand of island time, this refers to their laid-back, relaxed approach to life. No worries, no pasa nada, hakuna matata. And what better attitude to be surrounded by on a four-day vacation to a tropical island?
How could you possibly be in a rush with these surroundings?
After our days on private Beachcomber Island, we were off to our second accommodation, Funky Fish Beach & Surf Resort on Malolo Island. Our transfer boat was definitely on Fiji time, but this allotted us some extra time to laze on Beachcomber’s incredible beaches and even fit in a round of mini golf. But at last, our chariot awaited, a rustic fishing boat, where we perched atop shipping boxes and zoomed off into the blue.
As a former auxiliar de conversación (English teaching assistant) in Spain, I love reading the blogs of and chatting with current auxiliares. Trevor, who is finishing up teaching in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia and previously taught in Úbeda, Andalucía, blogs at A Texan in Spain, one of the auxiliar blogs I’ve been reading for quite a while. I spoke to him a few months back about his experiences in Spain.
Trevor at Ponte Maceira in Galicia
Hi Trevor! Please introduce yourself!
Hi, Venga, Vale, Vamos readers! My name is Trevor Huxham. I grew up in Dallas, Texas, went to college in southern Arkansas, and have been living in Spain teaching English since September 2012. My first school year I worked in a village in Andalucía and lived in Úbeda, a World Heritage Site for its Renaissance architecture. For the past two years, however, my home has been Santiago de Compostela, where the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage ends in the northwest of the country.
There are few greater feelings for me than finally being proficient enough in a foreign language to be able to understand bits of an eavesdropped conversation or, even better, to carry on a conversation of my own. But if you’ve studied any language, you know that it takes incredible amounts of diligence to get to this level. Being multilingual isn’t easy!
But, as my bilingual students in Spain would attest here, it’s definitely fun.
Immersion is one of the best ways to pick up a foreign language, but taking a language course can be pricey, and jumping on a plane to a foreign country often isn’t feasible. However, there are still plenty of ways to boost your language skills right from home. Here are some of my favorite audiovisual strategies for learning a foreign language.
If there’s one thing I can tell you now that I’ve spent twenty months here in Australia, it’s that this is a country every traveler must experience at least once in their lifetime. Stunning landscapes, friendly locals, and unbelievably good weather make it an ideal vacation destination, except for one thing: Australia has been rated the world’s most expensive country for the past four years. But all is not lost! It is possible to see this costly country inexpensively, I promise! Here are a few tips to save money while traveling Australia.
These views don’t come cheap!