14 jun. 2017

Gay Pride is World Pride in Madrid

Exceptional, phenomenal, glamorous, huge, extraordinary, unique, stimulating – there are many more words that can be used to describe the pride Madrid has in its LGBTIQ population: pride so great it has its own nickname, ¨MADO¨ (Madrid Orgullo).

To have pride in something is to not only respect it, but celebrate it. As much of the world is required to hide their sexual orientation, Madrid will put it out on display in a 10 day festival this summer for World Pride Madrid 2017! Beginning on the 23rd June and continuing on to the 3rd July, this festival will include an opening ceremony, a race, an inauguration, and of course, an enormous parade. The festivities will spread from the Chueca neighborhood (a popular area for Madrid’s gay community) to the main streets of Madrid and it is predicted that over 2 million people will be in attendance! You do not want to miss out on this chance to support diversity in your community—and party a little bit too of course!

Friday June 23rd
Opening Ceremony hosted in the Calderón Theatre.

Sunday June 25th (begins at 10am)
Diversity Race!—This new event will take place in the Plaza de Colon and is meant to emphasize the acceptance and love Madrid holds for their diverse population.

Monday June 26th 
Madrid Summit—a Conference of Human Rights featuring prominent speakers from around the world. Sponsored by the Madrid city council, this three day event (26th- 28th) will be held at the Autonoma University of Madrid and aims to provide a healthy dialogue that explores and contemplates the all areas of society in which a LGBTIQ member experiences differential treatment.
(Monday 8am-7pm) (Tuesday 8am-6:30pm) (Wednesday 8am-7pm)

Wednesday June 28th (noon- 10pm)
Rainbow Night!!—This is an artistic, cultural exposition in WorldPride Park that will host the exhibitions of a variety of LGBTIQ groups and allies. There will be a small market, local foods, a cultural performance and the community exhibition.

Saturday July 1st (6pm- midnight)
World Pride Parade—also known as the ´manifestation,’ this event is guaranteed to be the highlight of the festivities with its colorful collaboration of LGBTIQ pride and Euro Pride groups!
Sunday July 2nd
Closing Ceremony will take place in the Plaza Alcalá.

Euro Fest Incorporation:
This year, World Pride Madrid is so large because it has merged with the Euro Fest to form a full week of festivities. We recommend that you visit the World Pride Madrid 2017 website to discover more details on the event and what you can do to register for events and show your LGBTIQ and European pride! (http://www.worldpridemadrid2017.com)

25 may. 2017

Spanish: Europe's fastest language

If you’re a student of Spanish and you have spent some time in Spain, you won’t be a stranger to the well known fact that Spanish is an extremely fast language and that overwhelming feeling when a Spanish person starts speaking. But just why is Spanish spoken so quickly?

The linguistic answer lies in the fact that Spanish syllables are fairly short. On average, they are formed by 2.1 phonemes, which are the distinct sounds in a language that differentiate one word from another, whereas other European languages are formed by a higher number of phonemes, for example German, 2.8, and English, 2.7. In short, this means that due to the nature of some Spanish sounds (for example the soft ‘d’), Spanish speakers, compared with other European language speakers, pronounce less fractions of a word.

In addition to this, it has been found that the pace of a language also comes down to the number of syllables pronounced per second, where, once again, Spanish speakers take the lead. As Spanish syllables are generally shorter than the average European language, there are more pronounced each second in comparison with other languages throughout the continent, meaning that Spaniards take the top spot when it comes to talking quickly.

So, don’t worry if you feel that you are struggling to understand when you are speaking to a Spanish person – the likelihood is that they’re speaking very quickly! In fact, in Croatian, there is a phrase which translates to ‘it sounds like Spanish’ which is used when someone doesn’t understand anything! Having said that, don’t be afraid to ask a Spanish person to speak a little slower – they’re often more than happy to¬ slow down and will love speaking Spanish with you!

19 may. 2017

The Best Swimming Pools in Madrid!

With summer quickly approaching and temperatures rapidly rising here in Madrid, it’s definitely time to start thinking about where we can soak up the sun and cool off at the same time! Madrid is full of great swimming pools but here we have selected our favourites so you can check them out!

Complutense University of Madrid
Complutense swimming pool
This swimming pool is one of Madrid´s most popular spots for people to hang out in the summer and is located right in the heart one of Madrid´s biggest student areas. Especially popular with students, this swimming pool offers a discount to all students studying at Complutense University, and along with a young, lively atmosphere, the cheap bar food and drinks make for a real summer party! Make sure you, or someone you are with brings student ID, otherwise you won’t be able to get in.

How to get there:
Metro: Ciudad Universitaria (line 6)
Bus: 46, 82, 83, 132, 133, 160, 161, 162

Centro deportivo municipal Francos Rodríguez 
If you’re looking for a slightly quieter sunbathing spot, we recommend this pool! It is situated in a residential area and so is a more popular spot for families, however there is a still a buzz as it is also close to the university. There is a large grass area which is perfect for chilling out and sunbathing for the day!

How to get there:
Metro: Francos Rodríguez (line 7)
Bus: 44, 64, 126, 127, 128, 132

Centro deportivo municipal Peñuelas
Fully equipped with picnic tables, a small bar, space to sunbathe and showers, this pool is a great option to go to with friends for a day out in the sun. It is open until 9pm and so you can definitely make the most of the gorgeous Madrid sun!

How to get there:
Metro: Acacias (line 5), Embajadores (line 5), Pirámides (line 5)
Bus: 18, 36, 62

Centro deportivo municipal Vicente del Bosque
In this huge sports centre whose facilities occupy over 70,000m2, swimming is only one of the numerous activities on offer! There are two 50m pools as well as a children’s pool open to the public, offering the perfect opportunity to cool off and escape the Madrid heat. Definitely the perfect place to come for a day of activities with your friends!

How to get there:
Metro: Barrio del Pilar (line 9), Begoña (line 10)
Bus: 49, 83, 128, 132, 134, 137, 147

10 may. 2017

San Isidro, The Patron Saint of Madrid

This weekend, a celebratory atmosphere descends on Madrid once more as the city comes together to celebrate the Fiesta de San Isidro on 15 May. But where does the festival come from, and why do madrileños love it so much?

The tradition is centuries old, and originates from a feast day established to celebrate San Isidro, a labourer who lived in the 1100s and was famous for his generosity and compassion for animals and the poor. He was married to María Torribia, also known as Santa María de la Cabeza (Saint Mary of the Head), as after her death her head was preserved and carried out in procession as a form of prayer. The most famous miracle performed by the pair is said to be that of their son, Illán. When he was a baby, he fell into a well and as the parents had no other ways to rescue him, so they prayed. Miraculously, the water level in the well rose, and the baby was rescued.

The chotis dance in traditional chulapo dress
Celebrations of the Fiesta de San Isidro usually last for 9 days, from the Friday before the feast day until the following Sunday, but the majority celebrate over the weekend, this year being 12-15 May.  The 15 May also marks the beginning of bullfighting season, so expect to see bullfighters from around the world performing the tradition at the famous Las Ventas bullring. You can also expect to see people dressed in “traje de chulapo/chulapa”, historic madrileño dress, dancing chotis, a local dance that originated in the working-class neighbourhoods of Lavapiés and El Rastro in the 19th century.

Here are our top picks of where to enjoy this weekend:

Plaza de la Villa
Don’t miss the one and only “Gigantes y Cabezudos” parade on Friday 12th, starting at 6pm. The square will be filled with enormous figures that are integral to Spanish tradition, and there’s nothing quite like it.

Pradera de San Isidro
This is where the festival originally began, and is the perfect place to join hundreds in a picnic on the Sunday. Bring your own food or take your pick from the numerous stands in the park.

Plaza Mayor
Many of the main events of the weekend are taking place here, and it is made even more special by the fact that Plaza Mayor is celebrating its 400th anniversary this year. There is live music here during the whole weekend, from midday all the way into the night.

Retiro Park
To round off the weekend, there will be spectacular fireworks in the iconic Retiro Park on Sunday and Monday evening, at 20:30h and 22:30h both nights.

The full programme of all festivities can be found here:

28 abr. 2017

Spanish and Arabic - More Similar Than They Appear

Spain has a fascinating history, full of twists and turns – for example, did you know that Madrid wasn’t always the capital city? Both Valladoid and Toledo have played their part as the centre of the country – it is hard to imagine Madrid as the small town it was hundreds of years ago!

The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba
You may have heard references to “Moorish Spain” or “Al-Andalus” – the period from 711 to 1492, when what is today most of Spain and Portugal was a medieval Muslim territory. Given that Spain was under Muslim influence for so long, it is no wonder it's left its mark on Spanish culture and language. Some of the most famous Spanish landmarks are pieces of Arab architecture, such as the Alhambra palace in Granada, or the Mosque Cathedral of Córdoba. Most of all, the Muslim rule over Spain influenced the Spanish language greatly. Here we take a look at some Spanish words with an Arabic root – you may be surprised at just how similar they are!

Algodón (Spanish Arabic – alqutún)

Almohada (Spanish Arabic – almuhádda)

Azúcar (Spanish Arabic – assúkkar)

Do you notice something all these words have in common? They all begin with a- or al-, which are articles in Arabic – like “el” and “la” in Spanish. They were kept as part of the word when they were introduced into Spanish.

Here are some more:

Limón (Spanish Arabic – lamún)

Barrio (Spanish Arabic – barrí)

Ojalá (Spanish Arabic – law šá lláh) – This word is possibly the most recognizable to modern Arabic speakers, as it originates from the phrase “Insha'Allah”, meaning  “God willing/If God wills it”.

In fact, even Arabic nowadays is much more similar than you may think! Take a look below at the video of a Spanish and Arabic speaker saying the same words in their native languages!

21 abr. 2017

Netflix Academy – Improve your Spanish by watching TV!

Ask a language teacher the best way to learn a language and they will almost certainly say that immersing yourself in the culture is a great way to start. This may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t mean you have to pack your suitcase and head to a foreign country straight away! What if I told you that you needn’t go further than the very device you are reading this on? 

An excellent way to improve your language skills is to absorb material in that language – whether it is literature, the news, or – that’s right – TV shows! To make sure you can learn as much as possible from watching Spanish shows, follow our guide depending on your language level.

Beginners: If you are not used to hearing Spanish, TV shows may sound like a load of nonsense. Have patience! Try putting on subtitles in your native language and seeing if there are any words you recognise in Spanish, whilst still following the story.
Intermediate: If available, put on Spanish subtitles whilst watching the show. This way, you will learn new vocabulary whilst improving your reading and listening skills.
Advanced: Turn off the subtitles completely! Challenge yourself to really listen to the language instead of relying on reading the subtitles.

Not sure where to start? Here are our top 5 Spanish language programmes for those looking to enrich their cultural knowledge and vocabulary. 

Narcos (Colombia, 2015-)

Great for beginners, this recent hit follows the true life story of infamous drug kingpin Pablo Escobar in Medellín, Colombia. Half in Spanish, half in English, this drama allows viewers to see the situation from both the American Drug Enforcement Agency and Colombian citizens’ viewpoint. 

Available on: Netflix
Recommended for: 15+

Capadocia (Mexico, 2008-)

Capadocia is a thrilling drama revolving around the lives of women in an experimental Mexican prison and the stories of how they all came to be there. Expect grit, shock and heartbreak.

Available on: HBO Go, Amazon Video
Recommended for: 18+

Club de Cuervos (Mexico, 2015-)

A light-hearted Mexican comedy about two siblings’ fight for their father’s football club after his passing. Full of laughs, scandal and plenty of Mexican slang!

Available on:  Netflix
Recommended for: 15+

Gran Hotel (Spain, 2011-2013)

This series caused a storm in Spain, much like Downton Abbey did worldwide. A historical drama set in the 20th century in Santander, “Gran Hotel” lets us in to the lives of the aristocracy of years gone by.

Available on: Netflix, Hulu
Recommended for: 12+

Ingobernable (Mexico, 2017-)

A brand new drama starring well-known actress Kate Del Castillo, “Ingobernable” tracks the life of the First Lady of Mexico after she begins to mistrust her husband. It embraces its Mexican heritage with the high level of drama all too often seen in telenovelas. 

Available on: Netflix
Recommended for: 15+

So get comfy, grab the popcorn and get watching!