Expat Coffee Talk – these are the days of our L.I.V.E.S.

Expat Coffee Talk – these are the days of our L.I.V.E.S.

This post has been brought to you by the Chronicles of LIVES – Living in Very Entertaining Situations.

I’m a Canadian who lives in Spain. Forget about the “Canadian” part for a moment. I’m an expat who has chosen to live in a land far, far away that isn’t my home country. Are you American, Australian or from another part of the world and have always wondered why people like me leave their country of origin to go live somewhere else?

Maybe you’re that person that only travels to other countries to spend time on the beaches, a.k.a. all inclusive resorts. If you are then perhaps you’ve asked your expat friends when they’re planning on returning to their country of origin, because surely, they don’t plan on being away from “home” forever….right? “What about being close to your family?” “Raising your kids?” No? Ok, ok, well, I hope I’m wrong. One thing is someone growing up with the same friends all their life, getting married in the same town, having kids in the same town, and having the same job in the same town, but another thing is being presumptuous and expecting everyone else to do all that. There are friends who grow up in the same city and travel to places like Punta Cana and Riviera Maya, and believe that they’ve seen the country, or *cough* *cough* the world.

I digress.

It could be that our expat friends who live away from their country of their upbringing call their new residence “home”. Thank goodness for the existence of diversity of thoughts because I’m an expat and do not call my country of residence “home”. I’m fortunate to be able to call both Canada AND Spain my home. What, you think that just because I’ve left my native land I don’t think of it as “home” anymore? Or just because I’m a foreigner in Spain means that I can’t call it “home”? I actually feel comfortable calling two completely different countries “home” because I’ve been lead to feel that way. Plus, it’s a complicated way of life and I like it 🙂

Maybe you have expat friends who believe that there are no such thing as borders along countries, that if they feel like living elsewhere then they will go do it.

I always wondered how expats do it. Do they just wake up one day and say that they feel like picking up their stuff and moving to a foreign country? What if they don’t even speak the language? What then?

Do expats move to be adventurous? Or because they are adventurous? If by adventurous they mean that they’ve been treated differently because they’re not from that country, or misunderstood because it’s not their native language, then I’ve been there! Like I said, my way of living is complicated but I always feel like it was worth the move.

So, what’s it like living in Spain? I’ll have to leave that topic for another time now, so feel free to stay tuned.

Signing off,

Shamim Sobhani

 

Photo courtesy of Utomo Hendra Saputra

 

Chronicles of L.I.V.E.S. – Another day in the life of an expat in Spain

Chronicles of L.I.V.E.S. – Another day in the life of an expat in Spain

This post has been brought to you by the Chronicles of LIVES: Living in Very Entertaining Situations, while living abroad.

I get off the bus at the same stop as I have been the last 5 years, every Monday to Friday. As I enter a green, quaint, residential area, I see parents and children walk in the same direction, some wave at me, others smile and say hello or “Buenos dias”. My face lights up as I see all these people, children and adults alike. “What am I, a Canadian expat, doing in Madrid?” I still ask myself from time to time.

As I walk through the door, I sign my name on the sign in sheet, and make my way to my still-empty classroom. I hang up my coat and paraphernalia, wash my hands (because after taking the subway and the bus, I’ve been in contact secondhand with hundreds of people), touch up with some hand creme, take a gulp of water for a hydration boost, and I enthusiastically go back to the front entrance and start greeting students and parents walking into the school. I say “Hi” and “Hello”, and whatever else that I come up with impulsively. A kid clasps onto my hand and I guide her into her classroom. I go back to the lobby and walk another 2 year old and 3 year old, and more, to their classroom. Every time I leave them with their teacher the other toddlers try to throw themselves at me from excitement of seeing me (and me them). I instantly feel grateful for having this job.

Can you guess what I do?

No, I don’t just greet children and their parents and take the children to their classrooms (although it’s so fun doing it). That’s part of my job. I’m a language teacher for babies, toddlers and children who are short a few months of losing their first tooth. It’s an adventure every day and there’s never a dull moment.

I can’t imagine doing anything else in my life at the moment because I love what I do so much. Sure, I had other plans and ideas of what I’d imagine myself working as when I was in university, but reality doesn’t always reflect our plans. I don’t regret any of the decisions I made leading up to this day, and every day I’ve lived in Spain so far. Am I lucky? Do I deserve it? Is it fate? All I know is that I waking up looking forward to my day and going to work has had a lot to do with it. That and working really hard. But because I’m happy with my job, it makes working hard feel faint.

Sometimes what we plan doesn’t exactly pan out the way we expect, but life isn’t about planning…

…it’s about living.

Signing off –

Shamim Sobhani

Photo credit: Luca Upper @lucistan

Chronicles of L.I.V.E.S-Living In Very Entertaining Situations

Chronicles of L.I.V.E.S-Living In Very Entertaining Situations

I walk into a bank and request to open an account. I understand half of what the teller’s saying, partly because of the thick Spanish accent along with the lisp and the vocabulary words which are different than from what I’m used to.

I never thought in a million years that Spain Spanish could sound so different than the rest of the Spanish speaking world. My bad. My ignorance. I should have moved to Spain more prepared.

Speaking Spanish as a foreign language, as a second language all day long is a challenge in itself, but I’m also expected to change my accent and use of words to match and accommodate to those of the natives of this land because I happened to learn Spanish in Latin America. It’s not that I think Latin American Spanish is better than Spain Spanish, but after learning a whole new language from scratch over 15 years ago, it doesn’t seem too much to ask to cut me some slack, so please, consider my situation before asking me and the like to re-learn the language when all you have to do is make in a tiny bit of effort on your end.

Back to the bank teller. If I can’t understand her, it makes sense to say that she can´t understand me either. Me, throwing in foreign words into the conversation, coupled with my foreign/Latin American accent, does’t make this employee a happy camper!

If attempting to talk with a bank teller, face to face, is a challenge, then imagine me calling the bank up on the telephone. It’s like speaking to a robot. Hello, Wall-E.

These are the days of my L.I.V.E.S – Living In Very Entertaining Situations.

Featured image photo by nxphotography.uk.

Signing off –

Shamim Sobhani

How I found a job in Spain in 5 steps

How I found a job in Spain in 5 steps

As an expat, I´ve been asked how I managed to find a permanent job as a teacher in Madrid. It´s tough landing a job if you´re not from any of the countries that belong to the European Union.

Many people come over from North America through an exchange program. Here´s how I did it:

  1. I wanted to move to Spain to receive more education, so I applied to a Master´s program at a University in Spain.
  2. After I was accepted I applied for a student visa (this was mandatory).
  3. I realized I didn´t want to move out of Spain after I would finish my Master´s, so halfway through the program I applied to an exchange program to teach English at a private bilingual school. As I already possessed a student visa, I didn´t need to return to Canada and apply again.
  4. My exchange program was a maximum commitment of two years. Halfway through the year, the school I worked at expressed interest and asked me to work for the them full-time after my two years would be concluded.
  5. My residency status changed from ¨student¨ to ¨married to a Spaniard¨ because I got married at this point, so I was granted a residency permit. If I had not gotten married my school would have sponsored me to get a work visa.

A timeline of the steps goes like this:

Master´s program was 1 year long.

Teaching exchange program was 2 years long.

I was hired by the same school right after that. I´ve been teaching there for a total of 5 years so far.

While it´s usually not difficult to get accepted into an exchange program to teach, you should like teaching or have the desire to teach, otherwise, you´ll be doing something you don´t like doing.

Signing off –

Shamim Sobhani

Photo courtesy of photo-nic.co.uk nic

Green Peas and Potato Curry.

Green Peas and Potato Curry.

Are you in the mood for traditional style Indian curry? Our friend Abha has got it made for us!
Signing off –
Shamim Sobhani

Abha's Recipes

Hello friends, welcome again to Abha’s Kitchen. Winter is around the corner and has already peeped in. In this season we can find lots of fresh snow peas which can be combined with any vegetable to add that extra taste and freshness to our regular food items.Today we will make a curry of grated green peas with potato which will really get you interested. So, let’s start—

Ingredients:-

  1. Green Peas – 300 gms.
  2. Potato(big) – 1.
  3. Onion – 1.
  4. Asafoetida or Hing – A pinch.
  5. Cumin(whole) – 1/2 tsp.
  6. Bay Leaf – 1.
  7. Tomato Puree – 2 tbsp.
  8. Cumin Powder -1 tsp.
  9. Grated Coconut – 2 tsp.
  10. Red Chilly Powder – 1/2 tsp.
  11. Salt – According to taste.
  12. Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp.
  13. Garam Masala(home made) -1 tsp.
  14. Vegetable Oil – 2 tbsp.
  15. Fresh Chopped Coriander – A handful.

STEPS.

Step 1 – Wash and cut potato in cubes…

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Mee Hoon Goreng/Rice Vermicelli Stir Fry ( Indo-Chinese Style)

Mee Hoon Goreng/Rice Vermicelli Stir Fry ( Indo-Chinese Style)

Here we go again, showing off beautiful, mouthwatering dishes as millions around the world set off with the Bahai Fast today, March 1st.

Tingle-UR-Tastebuds

My blog has no recipes related to Malaysia. Yeah been living in Malaysia for almost 9 years I do make recipes that has its roots from there. I make them on a weekly basis. Yet not even one has gotten its way in the blog. Those are Maggi Mee Goreng, Nasi Lemak, Nasi Goreng, Nasi Minyak,  ……. the list goes on. “Mee” in Malay Language is “Noodles” and “Mee Hoon” is nothing but “Rice Vermicelli”. I learnt to cook this in Malaysia. There is also a type of fresh noodles which is sold in the markets and shops that is yellow and thicker in size, it is fresh and soft unlike the dried noodles. Another one is a fresh rice noodles called Kway Teow, it is more flatter and broader than the dried rice noodles. But it is very soft when cooked.

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Many might be thinking what am I talking about here, it all sounds new to many am…

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