English Breakfast. Beans. No time, but no rush. Don't stop if you feel the beat, the feeling of being a Londoner. You should walk, no questions. Walk to the next station: Korean food, The Guardian, Indians, Pakis, SouthAfricans, whatever more,... And all they shout: learn English, kiddo!
Primrose Hill Park. All London at your feet. Just they playing with the ball, like children... like one of us. And we look at them, and talk about sex. BBQ in the garden of the pub: just 5 pounds for a beef burger. Mireia is wondering: why do those fuck**g Britons need to get drunk to fuck? 'Brazilians do it better', just my answer to that. She agreed. And I felt the real London in my veins. Or maybe two paints of ale. And I ran to that feeling, as if my body was producing dopamine on its own. It's happiness, dude, don't worry, you're one of us now. Join the party. And the music never stopped, six hours, more and more. Passions and wake-ups. New people, new faces, and maybe a new city to add to my soul.
Drive boy dog boy dirty numb angel boy
In the doorway boy she was a lipstick boy
She was a beautiful boy and tears boy
And all in your innerspace boy you had
Hands girl boy and steel boy you had
Chemicals boy Ive grown so close to you
Boy and you just groan boy she said
Comeover comeover she smiled at you boy. (tatataaa...)
Yesterday I spent most of the time at the Soho. It's quite similar to the Fuencarral area in Madrid, but the social fauna is light years more diverse. People stand out the bars drinking, or lay at the ground in the Soho square... everything very appropiate for the season. Today I'll be a bit more cultural (want to visit the Imperial War Museum and going back to the British), and this evening Mireia, Jonathan and me will be drinking and doing crazy things at the Soho pride (don't ask me what's that exactly...).
Ken, we love you.
These days are really nice here. A perfect climate, just some degrees over the average, and blue skies over Britain. People is warm and polite, really nice, but maybe somewhat distant. Anyway, Alvaro is here, and the Spanish people wandering in the campus is also very talkative.
Internally, I feel best prepared for the big jump: I feel confident speaking in English, and I have forgot these anxieties previous to the trip. As I never spent one sole week in an English-speaking country (because it was really expensive for us), the experience sums the surprise of seeing myself talking in a progressing but fluent English, and the simplicity of the language for the daily tasks. I think things will become easier in a couple of weeks.
I miss many things from Spain: my friends, the physical contact with others, the sense of humor, the lack of formalities in many environments, the food... Yeah, my stomach is deviating all the English food to the junk mail folder, and I think I will explode in a handful days. Hehehe...
In the photo, Chin after eating some of the delicious Chinese varieties from the supermarket (from 0,30 to 0,60pounds a meal).
This is my four night here in the English countryside. I landed this saturday and Alvaro quickly integrated me in his daylife here. I'm here for taking a summer course on something really boring about statistical methodologies, but very useful for my future research.
The fact is that I have meet a lot of new people here, very quickly, and my integration inside the English-speaking world is surprisingly easy. This makes me feel confident for my years in the US.
Chin also is very happy. Essex is an university with around 8,000 students, and 1,000 of them are from China. Not from Chinese origin, but directly from China. They are the bigger non-British community here, followed by Greeks and Italians. And Chin has made a lot of new friends. The whawhawha rumor of Chinese talking in their language makes me feel sleepy, but anyways, they and the African or Indian subdits give a lot of color to this Campus.
Essex University is one hour to the north of London. 25 pounds far, actually. Here there are forests, lakes and grass surrounding all the ugly campus, a monster made by a psychotic architect. But well, this is really a change from my usual life: a change of just 2 weeks, luckily.
This weekend I'll be moving to my London...
I arrived to Girona yesterday, in a relaxed trip of hour and half from Barcelona. It’s pretty like the jump from New Haven to Manhattan, but crossing the green core of Catalonia’s forests. Lluis and Vanesa were welcoming and generous, and took me to a walk throught the old town, the Jewish district (the Call Jueu), the beautiful Cathedral and the many bridges that hold the old city to the new parts, in the other side of the river. All this was pleasant and fun, and we ate some local pizzas and crepes in the fashionable Bistrôt, the most decent, but inexpensive, restaurant of the Call Jueu.
We had a lot of luck these days. Two or three times, the waivers failed to make us to pay the right bill, so we paid less in many places. Catalan spirit was imposed, hehehe.
Today, they took me to the airport, after a nice breakfast of local fuet. The airport of Girona is one of the less busy and most beautiful platforms of Europe, with extremely beautiful sightseeing of the (now green) Pyrenees from their windows. They are impressive mountains, closing your view, but making you to feel covered by their gigantic height. Stanstedt and Alvaro are waiting for me…
Just a week connected to the Constitution State, and I have added a long list of buddies. Some of them offered to wait for me at the airport for moving all my stuff to my new home. Others, just friendship for hanging out. Many will be excellent guides to the city, other parts of the state, and obviously, Gotham. I have become a popular guy there! Hehehe....
One week ago, I imagined myself alone in the dark, raining or snowing out, feeling a lot of nostalgia... no way! this is gonna be funnier than i could imagine!
"This is something Madrid will always lack", Luis told me after diving five meters around me. It was 08:00 of Sunday morning. The water was hot, extremely well, and the sun was rising at that very moment. I was wondering if there really are marvelous moments in life, but this one went directly to that folder. Together with friends, these unique moments in which you enjoy life give sense to all our stories.
I feel prepared for the big step. I feel I was said goodbye (in a real, non-formal sense) to all the people I care for. I'ld like to start walking right now. Less than four weeks for the American adventure, I have to go first to UK for some those courses, and came back to Spain to say the last goodbye to my family. They have become a very important piece of my life, but I have learnt that I'm not done for living with them: five years out made me a zealous person about my autonomy and daily organization, and little receptive to criticism about the way I do things. Hope this don't ruin future relationships! :-)
Photo: Luis walking to the shore. We took a refreshing dip while the sun was rising, here at Barcelona. We meet at 2 13 Bar, at the Raval, around 02:00am. Jeff had good relationship with the owner, so we 'close the bar' in the petit chill-out after 04:00am. Then we move with Abraham, a waiter from the local, to La Paloma, jumping throught the line and entering for free (by the face!) in this temple of BCN's electronica. Final beers at CCCB's square and a nice walking to the beach. This city can offer more than I did expect!
I'm a friendly guy studying a Ph.D. in Social Sciences. I'm from Barcelona but I live in Madrid since 2001 -and I will be moving to Yale, USA, this summer 2006 for two years-. I love distant travels, specially to Latin America -I'm looking for an excuse and sail to Brazil. My Ph.D. is about tax strategies that gov's pursue in order to avoid the control of taxpayers/voters. I like history, videogames, strategic games, commercial and alternative cinema, any kind of music, sea sports, sculpture, wine regional varieties, politics, sci-fi, ...
This was written four months ago or so at Orkut. In all this time I have been exploring how Americans interconnect in the Net. Surprisingly, they do in a extremely different way to us: Messenger is not (by far) the most common way of messaging, but AOL; and Skype is not so popular than in Europe. Gmail is a marginal mail service, but contrarily they do a more extensive and intensive use of the net for everything: from trade (e-commerce) to get dates or to establish professional networks or fan communities. They seem to ask to internet things that we usually consider strange, like helping in daily duties or making friends. Things are beginning to change here in Spain a bit, but many people would consider those usages as characteristics of freak or asocial persons.
Why those differences? One structural explanation, like this of Alesina et alt at NewYorker, would say that the strenght of unions in Europe made politicians in Europe to response differently to their American counterparts facing the 1970s oil crises and rampant inflation. While in America the oil crises was fought with more work hours per week, same wage, in Europe unions made corporations to raise wages to compensate for inflation or, alternatively, to concede a lot more of holidays to their workers. In France during the 1980s, rulers passed many laws expanding the number of mandatory holidays for the work force, thus expanding the time in the café, the museum or the rave party in Ibiza of many Europeans.
This should also be reflected in the usage of internet, and the way Americans face the net differently to Europeans. Think on that: if you don't have enough time after your workday, you will demand express and substitutive services (delivery or take-away food, house-cleaning services, gifts delivered online, online bank services, 24h malls, etc). All this can be found in the American Net. But much more: if you don't have time to socialize with your neighbours or your friends, you should find ways of selling/buying/bartering things you need or don't need without the use of casual social networks: so the birth of the Craiglist anything market, Friendster, Orkut,...
I'm just wondering how they get dates, how they use to buy food stuff, if there are networks of books interchange, favors, etc.
I have been saying goodbye for two months -and many people is asking me to leave Spain for the last goddamn (fuc**ng) time-, but I am what I am (like 50Cent) and I love this kind of events: Being the main character (hehehe).
But there is something that worries me: how to keep in touch with all this good people here. MSN? Skype? Email? By phone? The fact is that many people will fit well in any of the stuff going via internet, but what about that people that you use to meet to take cañas a casual evening, and you know nothing more data than his/her phone? (I'm afraid of having losses in my list of good friends for this). La distancia es el olvido...
Yesterday, me and 350 kg of boxes and luggage traveled througout 625km until the hottest coasts of Catalonia. Ironically, yesterday was the hottest day of the summer, termometers reaching more than 40º (Celsius) in the country. I think I lost 3-4 pounds in the exercise of moving everything from my old good flat in Chueca to my room in my parents' house. I'm a real exhausted guy! All the exercise I have forgot to do along the year, despite the expensive adquisition of the gym's card, I have done in just 48hours! Someone should seize that World Cup to Cannavaro because I deserve it ten thousand times more than him and his perfect teeth (Grrr!!).
In any case, after hours and hours of unpacking all this stuff, and putting my friends in an outstanding position, you'ld say that I did a good job. Now, I find my old room a good place to stay again. I'm like "at home". At least, for the next month! :)
I am not travelling alone. As famous as he is, Hamtaro (right in the photo) is gonna be again in this adventure. Born in Vietnam, he has become an essential partner in any of my trips around the world (Err... yes, I forgot him when I went to Peru, but it was a Culkin-like error. I swear!).
Tweaky (down), came from Chile but born in China, is the loyal puppet of the Chinese Chin (middle), a far parent of the Changolin family. He is the new adquisition to this selected group, and the boxes are almost plenty and closed for the trip. I'm thinking in the possibility of bringing Juan with us, but it should be discussed in pétite comitee. Hamtaro doesn't agree completely (due to his jealous nature), but I'm sure I will be able to handle with this situation. Four is better than three... especially for matters of love & sex. ;)
This August the 13th I'll be moving from my beloved, sunny Spain, to a place where the weather is not the big point, but where I expect to find big changes in a different life.
Everything started the last year, when I suddenly decided to apply for a scholarship from La Caixa Foundation. I hit the chance, and two months later they give me the big surprise: I'll be admitted. The tortuous road to Yale was starting.
Tons of bureaucracy and applications later, I'm at the beginning of this summer 2006, closing boxes in my old flat in central Madrid, thinking in the beaches of Barcelona (and in some courses of statistics in the much ugly Essex). But the expectations about my new life in New Haven, CT, are growing each day.
New Haven is a small city (123.000 hab.), hour and half from NYC, that houses the University of Yale, where my bones are going to lay for a couple of years. The idea initially made me to tremble, because I was leaving a city that I loved (Madrid), a group of friends and a street life that made me to feel that, at least, I catched up the "equilibrium". I have all I need from this life, and I was going to jump onto the unknown, onto an adventure that can have a happy end... or anything less compelling.
But I think it will be for good.