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, April 21, 2013

Barcelona – The City of Counts

My first trip to Barcelona was a recon mission. I was interested in taking a year to study abroad and like a proper investor, I consider research paramount to decision-making. I had done extensive research on Political Science programs offered in Europe prior to taking one giant leap across the pond and was impressed with the quality of higher learning the Universitat Pompeu Fabra had to offer.

Evening view from Montjuic

Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city, a major player driving the economy and it is a neat cultural hub. It is the beating heart of a completely different nation from the others within the borders of the Kingdom of Spain. Its truly distinct elegance and culture are infectious and you will soon be adopting words like “si us plau”. Mauro, an Argentine friend I made over there, probably said it best: “When you walk around this city it feels like you are travelling through time.”

Plaça Catalunya, a majestic city square wearing fountains and gardens like a royal sovereign, is considered by the locals as the centre of this metropolis. It is the place where old – el barri gòtic – meets new – l’Eixample. The city’s main thoroughfares meet in an organized embrace around this square, leading the Catalan out into the extremities of its jurisdiction whizzing past the many unique architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domenech i Montaner considered World Heritage sites.

The gothic quarter is by far one of the better-preserved historic centres I have visited. It doesn’t require much creative visualization to imagine life in 12th Century, if it weren’t for the stylish Catalan people on the mobile phones and the legions of tourists snapping pictures. You will find the Cathedral of Barcelona continues to be a vibrant religious sanctuary as you make your way through the tight streets like Carrer del Bisbe Irurita.

Carrer del Bisbe Irurita, Gothic Quarter

Barcelona provides variety, so you are guaranteed to find something just for you. For your dining purposes, you can have traditional Spanish meals, world-class cooking or even Macdonald’s  - no Catalan would be caught there unless if it is for an ice cream. On Passeig de Gràcia, there are infinite shopping options that will leave you in tears when you check your bank account balance. Don’t forget to visit Camp Nou to take a tour of the Barça museum or if you are lucky, catch a clásico against Real Madrid.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Malaga – A Needle in a Haystack

Everyone has their own way of describing their friends and proceed to using labels, such as “best” to truly define and differentiate each specific relationship. When it comes to friends, I don’t often consider the time we have been friends. Easy for me to say as I have a long history of moving. Friends are those who stick around, regardless of distance and circumstances, which is where Alejandro fits in.

On that same trip to España, Alejandro and I travelled together from Seville to Malaga, one of Spain’s many coastal cities receiving hordes of tourists in search for a beach. That time of the season generally sees many British, German and other Northern Europeans looking to escape from the cold grip of Old Man Winter. In Canada, we tend to call those people Snow Birds, but let’s call these, Tundra Vikings.

Again, Malaga was not a city I was incredibly familiar with. Alejandro on the other hand, visited frequently as he had cousins and uncles living in the city. Another of his uncles, this time on his mother’s side, left us with his apartment for our long weekend, which was ideal to cover as much as we could of the city on foot. This is the best way to really take in most European cities, as their radius is much smaller than those in North America due to the demand of family homes in the suburbs.

Malaga in March (sounds like a Hemingway novel) is a relatively quiet place. Alejandro and I walked the waterfront, looking for his favourite restaurant: El Palo. We literally walked all the way across town to the end of the beach, probably a good 10 kilometers, which under the hot sun (28 degrees or so) felt more like 900 clicks. Most of the culinary treasures are seafood, and most of it is deep fried, but still fantastic.

Malaga is known for some Picasso Museums, it is bull-fighting central and while we visited, they had Spain’s cinematic awards. Malaga has earned a special place in Spain’s modern culture, evolved into a key tourist destination on the Costa del Sol and is a small Mecca for high tech. All of the history from the Roman and Carthaginian Empires with a blend of Moor makes it a true gem on the Mediterranean.