The story of how I quit my job and went to play in Madrid

Archive for the tag “Spanish”

Our Friend Julieta

Earlier this month, we went to see one of my favorite artists, who holds a special little place in my Spanish-learning heart. Julieta Venegas surprised us with tickets to her concert! Ok, we bought the tickets, but details aren’t so important.

The show was at a famous little theater-turned-disco, Joy Esclava. We arrived early, grabbed an insanely priced beer and scoped a perfect spot.  We negotiated ourselves onto an elevated step that gave us a view of the whole stage, even without me having to hoist Margaux over the crowd to catch a glimpse.

The concert blew us away. Our girl, Juli, was rocking her iconic accordion and playing some of her fabulous new songs. Of course, when she busted out her classics, the crowd went nuts. Margaux proudly sang all the words to “Me Voy;” she’d been practicing for weeks. All of the new songs are soon to be classics.

After the show, I convinced Margaux to stick around for an hour or so to see if we could say hi to our buddy. There were only three or four other loyal fans who waited with us, everyone else bounced to go find some more modestly priced drinks, I imagine. Finally, our girl came out and we got all nervous and nerdy. Lucky for us, Julieta is gracious and lovely. We asked to take a photo, and she chatted with us for a few minutes about our city, San Diego, and learning Spanish. Margaux is convinced that now her Spanish will be improved because, “Julieta said I can do it!”

Our hearts were racing! It’s so exciting to meet someone you admire so much. Thanks Julieta, for being a cool famous person. ImageImageImageImageImage


Language Learning

frustration cartoon

Why do I feel this way sometimes?

Margaux here, and I thought I would give you a little update about my experience of learning Spanish so far.  Although my experience of learning a language has been positive and uplifting, I’m finding studying extremely hard. There are a thousand ways to practice a new language, but I’m not very good about self-discipline, and studying has never been my strong point. I do know however, that once I can put what I’ve learned into practice, its amazing! It’s what keeps me motivated.

I’ve never truly realized (until I put myself in the same situation) just how difficult it is to be an immigrant; not knowing the language, not really understanding the culture, and just trying to fit in has been a challenge. I mean, the language barrier alone could make anyone give up. I now have a new found respect for anyone immigrating to a new country.

Learning a language has been a very interesting challenge for me because I love to talk a lot and I can’t exactly do that yet. I am wicked ‘out of my comfort zone’, I have never felt so insecure before. It’s quite strange actually, but I’m realizing as I observe, listen and watch everyday that this experience is changing me. It’s changing the way I think and I think I like it. The biggest challenge is fitting Spanish into my daily routine. It’s more tricky than you might think. I work all day with my coworkers who are wonderful and speak English in order to get business done, then come home and speak English with Jean, and on the weekends, spend time with our new friends from all over England, Ireland, and the US. I know that it will take more time and effort to practice my Spanish, but it’s frustrating to not be at the level I want yet.

I’ve signed up for a second round of language classes, and am determined to keep at it until I can get by on my own. Meeting new friends at language school and practicing in class is my favorite part. Soon, I will be able to have real conversations!  In another week or so, I will be at pre-intermediate level, A2, which I am really proud of! I am just starting to learn how to speak in the past tense!

The positive side of my learning Spanish is however, that I fortunately have the best wife in the world. Although, she can’t teach me Spanish very well, she has been proactively immersing herself here.  She’s been wonderful with our landlord Miguel and amazingly great with all the bureaucratic issues we’ve had to deal with here. I’m so incredibly grateful my wife speaks Spanish and definitely could not be here without her. Thanks again Jean!

madrid living

Today marks our one year anniversary of moving to Madrid. I can’t believe how fast the time has gone by, and I am eager for the next year to be filled with Spanish success!

My 28th Year

As promised, here’s my personal goals for the upcoming year, my 28th.  In no particular order, these are the top 20 things I want to accomplish in the next 365ish days.  All of these things are possible! I’ve accumulated tons of bookmarks and resources to make it happen. Check out the links for more info about where I got all these crazy ideas from.

  1. Travel to at least 8 different countries, wear my adventure hat.  My man, Rick Steves, will show us the way.
  2. Budget our money to make room for travel and put $xxx/month into our savings account ($x/year).  It’s been done.
  3. Spend money on experiences more than things.
  4. Become completely debt-free, and live debt-free with the exception of my student loan by March 2013. Dave Ramsey knows how.
  5. Get on the show House Hunters International when we move to a different apartment in the spring. My mom would FLIP.
  6. Exercise regularly toward a goal weight of xxx. (Yeah right, like I’m going to tell you here.)
  7. Eat well. Appreciate good food.
  8. Enjoy time with friends and family. Use skype and gchat to stay in touch with those far away.
  9. Make 4 new real friends in Madrid. Join Meetup groups.
  10. Write in my journal weekly. Finish reading Writing Away for inspiration and guidance.
  11. Begin learning German using Rosetta Stone and local language classes at the library.
  12. Practice Spanish with Margaux every day.
  13. Read 4 adult novels in Spanish.
  14. Start an online business to generate extra income.
  15. Stay in touch with contacts by sending 3 emails a week to people I haven’t heard from in a while.
  16. Identify and get involved with a job, volunteer position or activity that is meaningful to me and build a professional network of people in Madrid.
  17. Maintain EsCrazy and get at least one article published on Bootsnall, Matador Network or as a guest post on another blog.
  18. Complete NaNoWriMo 2012.
  19. Get to know the city of Madrid. Learn about Spanish art, history, literature, culture and food.
  20. Drink wine sometimes, laugh a lot, take pictures.

Adventure awaits!

I am so excited to get going on these! Let the adventures begin!

Language School!

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10 students in my class

9 teachers completing their masters degrees in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language

8 languages spoken among my classmates (Mandarin, Thai, German, Armenian, Korean, French, Russian, English)

7 classes I missed for laziness, missed bus, or appointments with the electrician

6 week intensive Advanced Spanish Class at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid

5 days per week

4 hours per day

3 bus transfers to get there

2 field trips (Prado Museum, 15 de Mayo Celebration)

1 level away from C2 proficiency!

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