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, August 25, 2013

The Art of Bureaucracy

Regardless of where you live on this orb purposefully floating around the endless universe, there is one constant truth: you may not want to do it, you may dream of a better one or you may be struggling to find one. Yes, a job. Love does not pay the bills (sorry Jackie Moon) and España is no different.

When I returned to my country of birth, the Ontario government made me jump through several loops it terms of acquiring a driver’s license (which I understand, since I had never driven before) and public health coverage. Ontario still has primarily a social health system funded by taxpayers. In order for those public doors to “free healthcare” swing open for you, you need to prove something like 6 months residency. Until then, don’t get injured or sick. It’s expensive!

My roommate in Barcelona had advised me that before heading out to look for work and to open a bank account in Barcelona, I would need a NIE (Foreigner Identification Number). This identification number is pretty much necessary to be a regular citizen in Spain. I would need to head out of my home to line-up at 6:00 AM at the entrance of the Extranjería building as they only let people in before noon.

The United Kingdom is probably the master of queuing, but Canada is not far from matching the production of excessive and pointless paperwork. Getting people to line-up is a skill we Canadians have that cannot be matched even by the most populated countries in the globe. From coffee at Tim Horton’s to the Dollar Store, we do it. I was definitely ready to wait although I was not excited to do so.

Surprisingly enough, if you are early enough, the NIE process can take less than a whole day. Get ready to line-up for 2 hours before the office even opens its doors as many people are on the same boat, looking to be able to start making the big bucks. Should you require more on this process, this article may be helpful.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Devil Without A Cause

Barcelona is a vibrant city showcasing really interesting cultural events. The correfocs (literal translation would be “fire-runs”) was without a doubt, one of the coolest events I got to see first hand, just off the Gothic Quarter on via Laietana – also one of my favourite thoroughfares in the downtown core.

If I am not mistaken, this visually striking parade has something to do with the Festival of La Mercè – Our Lady of Mercy, the patron saint of the district of Barcelona. The celebration dates back a good 400 years when Barcelona suffered a plague of locusts. However, I was never too clear as to how the correfocs fit into all of this.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of the correfocs, before I get further sidetracked. These can come in different forms during a fantastic parade. In a nutshell, they are small papier maché floats that look like dragons and devils, dancing around the streets at night as bystanders cheer them on. What’s so cool about that? Well, the floats shoot fire!

Perhaps as many cultural traditions in the Iberian Peninsula, the groups are divided in barrios, each with a float of their own. Those who dance along the procession are generally wearing devil masks, blowing fireballs and putting on a fantastic show. Eventually, they make their way to the ocean at Mare Magnum symbolizing the closure of this grandiose event.

There is apparently an even more colourful expression of this Catalan tradition in a place called L’Arboç. In the evening of the feast day, a replica of Hell (as we imagine it would look like) is reproduced on the town square. A bunch of devils burn and dance for hours, shoot fire-jets and other pyrotechnics. A curious tradition indeed but well worthwhile if you make it down there in September.