Un vino tinto o una grande cerveza por favor

One of the first phrases we learn as migrating English swallows to settle in the Ebrolands healthy micro-climates. After that we gather a few collective phrases together that follow on with small “bar stool” chat and then stop. Why?

So it was with interest to open my “Inbox” and read a very thought provoking article this morning by Mark Stucklin, “Brits fail the integration test” http://www.spanishpropertyinsight.com/buff/?p=40

I started this blog sometime ago and then left it for other priorities. Though my Spanish has progressed somewhat further, I too am guilty of no longer self-motivating to stretch my Spanish to higher levels.

It is a common joke amongst Catalans that the Northern Europeans think these are the most needed “survival terms” to learn. Nothing else matters! Why don´t we learn how to ask for meat or fish?

We have left behind us a country that is fast developing a drink culture with some ugly side affects of under age drinking. In Catalonia they always like a glass of wine with their dinner or cava on fiesta days. In all the four years I have lived in southern Catalonia I have never seen a local drunk. I may have followed a “weaving car” down a country road after “they” have enjoyed a family weekend meal at a finca. But never seen someone falling out of a bar (pub) – not in these country parts of medieval towns and friendly villages.

But why don´t we integrate more? We live amongst a vibrant multi-cultural community and friendship and hospitality should know no language barriers. Afterall, a smile and a hug does not need a translator!

I asked a friend of mine, Valerie Collins, to contribute towards  increasing my article up to 501 on “Things they told us before coming to Spain or Catalonia”  http://www.brighterspain.com/101things.html

 “103.That Catalans tend not to invite you into their homes. You can be very good
friends with someone and only ever meet them in bars and restaurants.”

But that doesn´t stop you from inviting them into your home for a meal, a coffee -to join into a family barbecue with family from overseas. Come on meet them half-way and you will soon integrate. I have found my Spanish neighbours are shy, polite and “fear” to intrude but friendly and helpful at a drop of hat, if you ask them -quite reserved people really, but warm hearted and love to exchange their home-grown produce with you.

We are guilty of hiding behind our arrogance of “Being British is best. Let them learn our language!”

 Pardon me, whose country are we living in? This part of the woods Catalan is widely spoken , but they all speak Spanish and will switch languages for us Expats. So that is no excuse. They say knowledge is power, but mastering another language is a creating a life-long friend. 

But there are aids out there to help us conquer our fear of language learning and “In The Garlic” by Valerie Collins and Theresa O’Shea. (www.inthegarlic.com.) willgo a long way to help us to integrate with humour and information.

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