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, July 28, 2013

September 11

When this combination of month and numbers pops out, a series of memories, emotions and feelings follow suit. As a North American, I am always reminded of the attacks on the US back in 2001. If we shot back to 1973, this was also the date where the Chilean military ousted Salvador Allende, the democratically elected leader of the country. In Catalonia, this date also carries a bittersweet feeling.

September 11 is the Diada Nacional de Catalunya (National Day of Catalonia) and I was excited to partake in the popular activities. In Canada, our national day is a time for having fun and celebrating all the wonderful things we feel our country stands for. I gather the Americans are much the same. They surely plagiarized our traditions seeing that our national day is on July 1 and theirs on July 4.

For Catalonia, this day commemorates the defeat of the Catalan forces fighting during the War of Spanish Succession. The Catalan troops fought in support of the Habsburg’s claim to the throne and were defeated at the siege of Barcelona by the royal army of the Bourbon king, Philip V. This was the beginning of what nationalists there consider an occupation, a feeling that Franco did little to appease.  

I was explained that during this time, there are communal activities and festivals but these tend to be overshadowed by independentist organizations and their political rallies, protesting the royal yoke. Some adore King Juan Carlos for temporarily silencing Hugo Chavez’s bombasts, but he is not an accepted figurehead in most autonomous regions of an ethnically and culturally diverse kingdom.

You’ll see certainly notice the senyeres dancing proudly in the wind and people gathering around monuments of their fallen leaders Rafael Casanova and General Moragues. Floral offerings of many sorts stand in remembrance of the day several centuries ago. My advice if you wish to stay away from the protests is to visit some of Barcelona’s museums, as most are free to the public on September 11.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Gracia For The Rest Of Us

From the early going, Barcelona was indeed proving to be a charming city. Upon the Iberian giant’s embrace of the Euro, along with many of the EU’s subsidies, the country’s economy kick started like it was 1492 all over again. This so-called progress encouraged many of those from countries colonized by the Spanish crown to move to the Madre Patria, hoping to find a better life than back in the New World.

Plaça Diamant in the borough of Gracia

Gracia, my new neighbourhood, reflected much of this new wave of multiculturalism. Where I had mentally prepared myself to become just another Catalonian, I realized this would be a trying feat. Most residents were young and hip (like myself) and hailed from Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil. In my apartment building, it felt I was living in Little Buenos Aires, which suited me quite well – can anyone say “asado”?

Gracia is a part of town populated by young people (mid twenties to late thirties). Local residents who have lived there for generations clash with the much louder younger generation, with their decibels fueled by Chichi Peralta, Celia Cruz and other of the Latin-American musical geniuses. Others have called an armistice, overwhelmed by the never-ending barrage of music and party, surrendering to the countryside where the local, quieter, Catalan culture still dominates.

A more curious aspect I noticed was the alarming lack of parks. I come from cities where there are generally quite a few greenbelts. In Barcelona, pedestrian enclosures surrounded by bars, local businesses and convenience stores replace what others call nature parks. The few trees standing around the plazas provide some contrast from the concrete and stone surroundings. However, should you really need some nature, Parc Guell, another of Andoni Gaudí’s architectural masterpieces, is also located in the northern part of this barrio.

Andrés Calamaro, a Hispanophile Argentine rocker

Many areas within the metropolitan area of Barcelona are extremely well serviced by public transport routes being subways, cable cars and buses. I always liked to say that I could be anywhere in town in 20 to 30 minutes, something that would be hard to match in busier North America urban centres. Should you be looking for easy access to the city and a younger population where you can settle for a while, consider Gracia.