A third-culture kid (TCK / 3CK) or trans-culture kid is "someone who, as a child, has spent a significant period of time in one or more cultures other than his or her own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture."


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Banking, It’s Not About What You Know

During my first few weeks in Barcelona, I was in a rush to open an account as I was just days away from beginning a teaching job I had lined up before leaving. Walking around the streets of the Catalan financial juggernaut, strangely familiar sights such as BBVA and Santander branches were scattered around town. These spots reminded me of my South American days where both of these banks were top players.

Something everyone should know expecting to conduct private banking in España, banks have awfully inconvenient hours. They shut their doors to the public around noon. In Canada, we used to complain (and still do... it’s our national pastime) that our institutions only operated during office hours, making it challenging to meet with financial advisors or just conducting day-to-day banking. Luckily, we evolved rapidly into direct withdrawals and online banking, which now makes visits almost obsolete.

I started my weekday morning at a Santander on Avinguda Diagonal only to find a long lineup before the doors would open. Aha! Just like back home. I was a seasoned veteran of the queue, seeing that we lineup for everything everywhere in Canada. I was ready for the long haul. Suddenly, a banker wearing a smart suit stopped on his way to the door and saw I was wearing a Barcelona FC soccer shirt dawning Messi’s name and number. He announced with great pride: “No Barça fan has to wait here! Come with me!” As a good Canadian, I felt somewhat embarrassed yet followed as ordered.

He sat me down at his desk, where he began a twenty minute monologue about the proud history of his club, showing me his wristwatch with a lovely Barça crest, his member card (they are the first to get season’s tickets) and discussed how Barcelona FC was a democratic organization as opposed to the fascists from Real Madrid FC. He said the socios (the members) get to elect the board that runs the team. Real Madrid were just a bunch of power-hungry venture capitalists that had no heart or allegiance. His family members were lifelong supporters of the club.

More than a club

The love of football and club really drives many aspects of this city. Businesses and people sing their praises of their lads’ performances. If the team loses a big game, there is a air that resembles a national day of mourning. Fans look out for each other, help each other to cut lines, waive procedures whenever they can and especially, don’t let you miss the big game, which is anytime the Culés take to the battlefield. If you need anything done, wear a Barça jersey!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Oh, For The Love Of Beef!

First and foremost, I would like to wish you all a new year filled with joy, success and many blessings. Since we last left off, we were visiting Barcelona and the many hotspots around town. From the moment I set foot in the heart of Catalunya, I quickly became infatuated with its colourful people, an unbeatable football team (referencing the Culés), the breathtaking architecture and a fabulous culinary diversity.

My old pal Pablo Zabaleta is number 4

Today, we’ll look at cuisine and specifically, a triple threat to my general interests: Argentina, fútbol and cattle. Within my first month across the pond, I had the pleasure of living among some of my favourite people, the Argentines, in the neighbourhood of Gràcia. You will have trouble finding a more passionate, affectionate, polite and melodious-speaking bunch. Many of these South Americans have settled in Barcelona taking roles in gastronomy, finance, high tech, hospitality and sport – let’s not forget to mention, roommates! – escaping the rollercoaster blues of recessions and crises of several sorts.

As an individual originating from a proud beef culture, such as many Canadians and Americans who can’t leave their home without a barbecue (that’s why we have so many barbecue pits in our city parks), you will find that the best meat in La Madre Patria seems to limit itself to pork and chicken. Most beef acquired in the Kingdom of Spain may trigger a depression or serious iron deficiencies as it is tough, tasteless and quite surprising, considering this is the country know for the Corrida de toros (the running of the bulls).
One fine evening, the glorious hand of God (more of a metaphor for Maradona) reached down, nudging my Argentine roommate to propose a fine asado dinner for his bovine-depraved Canuck renter. We wandered strategically a couple of streets west of Carrer Gran de Gràcia, to Carrer Santaló 73. The target of this adventure was Las Cuartetas, a true leader in carnes, wines and deserts from the pristine Pampas. Not only can one have succulent chunks of beef, chorizo and morcilla that melt in your mouth, but the regulars at the time included Lionel Messi, Gabriel Milito and other fine personas of the Albiceleste.

Las Cuartetas Hall of Visitors

After a delicious meal and several Euros properly invested, I made my way out and bumped into Pablo Zabaleta who was enjoying his football with the local outfit RCD Espanyol. Now, I will not say we hit it off and went clubbing, living the vida loca. Come on people, he was on his cellphone! I had the distinct pleasure of interrupting his conversation, shook his hand, gave him the old tap on the shoulder and made my way to further Olé around town. If in Barcelona, make Las Cuartetas a MUST for a fine dinner and a small piece of Buenos Aires querido.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Closing Statement, Counselor?

Twas the last Sunday before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even the turkey in the freezer. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, looking across at an oven that is out of commission. Oh, the problems take concern us in the developed world!

2013 has indeed been a kind year to us Bickfords, giving us many blessings through new friends and reconnecting with old ones. Although the winter weather has returned with a vengeance, 2014 is filled with promises of an even better tomorrow and hopefully some more interesting themes to share with you all.

I last left off telling my tales of my Catalan adventure, I will wish you all a “bon nadal i feliç any nou” to all of you. May 2014 be an opportunity to realize all your dreams!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Art For A Good Cause

This weekend, it’s time for something completely different from my regular blog entries. This may interest those in Ottawa and the surrounding area.

Marie-Madeleine Bickford, my mother has been hard at work these past couple of months preparing artworks which she is donating to a silent auction being held at Saint-Thomas d’Aquin Parrish in Ottawa, Ontario. Many churches from relatively any denomination are seeing their number of parishioners dwindle and funds are becoming more and more scarce. This lovely donation will certainly help in raising much-needed funds and will be a fun event for art lovers.

The bidding for the paintings (oil and watercolours) will be held at 1244 Kilborn Place in Ottawa beginning on the weekend of November 16 to December 7, which will be the final showing. The winning bidders will be able to pick up their new paintings on December 8, after the 11:30 AM mass. The bidding in the silent auction will take place on Saturdays starting at 4:00 PM and Sundays starting at 9:00AM. The works will be displayed at the main entrance of the Church and the day of the auction closing will also have a pastry sale.

Should you be interested in viewing some of her works beforehand, you may see these on her online gallery. Bring a friend!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

3 Must-See Destinations in South America

Here is part 3 of 3 of John Gower's contribution on South American hotspots. This is one my personal favourites. Enjoy the read!

3. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

From its colorful festivals to its melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, Rio de Janeiro is one of the well-known cities in Brazil and a must see for tourists. With the outgoing residents of Rio de Janeiro, every tourist will be able to unwind and have a truly fun time in the city. Along with its people, Rio de Janeiro has countless places to visit. One of the top places to see in Rio de Janeiro is the statue of Cristo Redentor, or Christ the Redeemer, that overlooks the city. To get a better view of the statue, travel by cable car up to Sugarloaf Mountain and view the deep blue ocean water below. Travelers can also find exotic wildlife on the mountain by following trails. Sugarloaf Mountain isn’t the only area in Rio de Janeiro that has wildlife for tourists to see – at Tijuca National Park, known as the largest urban forest in the world, visitors can find a miniature version of the Amazon rainforest here. With the lush greenery and natural inhabitants, the Tijuca National Park is known for its Atlantic Forest, which makes for a fun tour of exotic plants and animals Brazil has to offer.

Not only is Brazil known for its landscapes and monuments, but also for its beaches. In Rio de Janeiro, Copacabana and Ipanema are the most populated beaches in the city. With vendors who bring food, drinks, and even clothing to beach visitors on these beaches, Rio de Janeiro knows how to pamper its beach guests.

Before traveling to South America, consider what environment you want to be in and what you want to explore or learn about. Be sure to plan ahead to ensure you have the best time in South America.

John Gower is a writer for NerdWallet, a site that helps you save money by “doing the homework for you.”