Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mi Casa Es Su Casa...

Well, not really. Nor is mi casa really my casa. But I'm sure if you were here my madre would make sure you felt that way. And feed you a ton of food, and get almost mad if you didn't eat alot and not let you help with cleaning up or the dishes. Just to warn you, this post does not involve anything crazy like the last few, so if you're not that interested in my living situation during my time in Barcelona, then feel free to click the little X on the top right. And then I hope something quite heavy falls on top of you. But, for those of you who read this and don't have FaceBook, AKA my family, I thought it would be nice to show you my digs. (Translation: home) That's some Ebonics for you didn't know I was tri-lingual.

Here is the view from the foyer. You can see straight into the living room, and then there's a storage closet, my bedroom, and then the bathroom on the left. To the right is a shelf with a ton of movies and all these crazy trinkets on top that's in the hallway. She has about the same amount of Disney movies in Spanish as I do at my house, and we have a ton. She has such classic titles as "El Rey Leon," "La Bella y la Bestia," and "Aladino," to name a few.

Here is the view of my bedroom from the hallway. I put a nice Fordham hat up on the shelf there, right next to Flounder. I think her 4 year old grandson uses this room when he stays with her, so she had a bunch of stuffed animals on there when I first came in, and I let her take all of em away except for Flounder. He's a cool dude in my book. To the right is my closet. Sorry I didn't make my bed. I do every day, Mom! (Actualmente, nunca hago la cama.)

This is the other side of my room. There's my desk and my computer with the ghetto looking outlet rigging i have going on. This is where I do all of my blogging and a majority of my communication with people from home, so it's prolly one of the most important places for me in Barcelona. As you can see, I'm repping my FC Barcelona jersey, which is sweet (gracias, Sarah). Still need to get to a game...that will be happening soon fo sho.

This is the view of my bed from the opposite side of the room. You can see my little nightstand and my nice bulletin board with pictures of people from home. The Fam, Ava, Sarah, some Fordham peeps, some of the boys. Oh, and that little shelf is about 1 foot from my face when I'm sleeping. The first 2 nights I slammed my head on it when I woke up, but since then I've only had 1 mishap. Let's hope it doesn't keep happening or else I'm gonna have to make myself some kind of padding. Or sleep with a helmet. (Sleepilepsy? I don't know) We'll have to see.

"Southern Comfort: The Grand Old Drink of the South." This is one of my favorite things about the whole apartment. I feel bad because I couldnt ask for a better and nicer madre while I'm here, but one of the first things I thought was that I should steal it and put it in my apartment next year. If anyone knows what the horse clock is, I'd say it gives that a run for its money. That's not really a necessary part of the tour, I just really like it. And it's my tour so I make the rules.

This is the living room. It's where I eat all my meals with my senora. It's also where I hang out in the evening and struggle to understand Spanish television programming. I'm enjoying the game shows alot, and I might try to watch the Season Finale of "Gran Hermano" (Big Brother) with my Senora this week. Today, she set up a nice lunch for the two of us and we had a few glasses of champagne. The brindis (toast) was to our new President, Barack Obama. Everyone here seems to love him, except for this one guy I met/who ran into me at a bar. It was the night of the inauguration and people were talking about it. He must have overheard and wanted to come diagree with us being excited about Obama. I sort of intercepted him from getting to the huge group of Americans clearly happy about Obama and asked him what was up. He said he thought it was mierda (BS) that he was elected and he was being racist and what not. So I sort of diffused the situation by saying that I agree and I can't believe the majority of my country wants to be ruled by him and blah blah blah. He told if I felt that way I should move here to Spain because something like that would never happen, and that we should sit down and have lunch sometime to talk more about it. He asked for my cell phone number and I gave it to him...after changing a few of the digits, and he said he'd call me in a few days. I've been waiting for his call, but folks, I think I've been stood up. Time to moooove on I guess. Sigh. But anyway, seemed very excited for me and for the US in general. I like him alot (pretty much everything I said to that angry, racist Spanish dude was a lie I just didn't want there to be some kind of altercation) but all I'm gonna say is: Sir, Mr. Obama, you are talking a big game. I hope you deliver. We need it.

These are 3 seperate pictures, for the record. This is all the random artwork hanging up throughout the living room. They don't really go together, but I like it alot. It gives the room a nice feel. And I'm pretty sure alot of them were drawn/painted by my Senora's daughter so she is clearly quite the artista. Before I leave I'll have to make a nice artistic creation to add to the wall...there's a nice spot I have picked out, just need an idea. Or I could put a nice JMcNelis creation in the spot left empty after I steal that sweet Southern Comfort mirror. I'll give you an update in a later post.

Last, but ce-her-taintly (if you watch Scrubs, imagine Dr. Cox saying that. if not, imagining me saying it like it's written) not least, es la cocina, the kitchen. This is where my Senora is at her best...she's such a good cook. She's introduced me to alot of new foods - most I've liked, some I have not. But either way, the food has been a great part of coming here. As some of you know I'm rather close-minded (mouthed?) and picky when it comes to eating, and I've decided to just let loose and try whatever is on my plate while I'm here. I'm happy to report that it's gone quite well. By the end of my trip, however, I'm planning on making my Senora a few American style meals. First of which will be a CheeseSteak...partly because I'm from Philly and I should show her how real Philadelphians eat and partly because I've been craving one really badly. I think after I'm done this post I'm gonna Google "cheesesteak in barcelona" and hope I get lucky.
Well, ladies and gentlemen...we have come to the end of the tour. If you have any last questions please let me know. I hope you have enjoyed your stay at
Hondures, 39 bis
Esc. B, Entl. 4
Barcelona, 08027
(That's my address.) Some day I will also put up a pic of my Senora, Neus Aldrobe. She's a very cute little old woman, and I hope to show you Bernard, her grandson, who is a really cute boy. He can count up to 7 in English and is on his way to learning more, so we help each other out. I've been getting some travel plans together so in the coming weeks expect some craaaaaazy stories from countries other than Spain. Get excited people.
Until we meet's to Obama fixing the world. And finding a place to put the 200 or so prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. My advice: just throw them in. What's the worst that could happen?
Welp, see ya later!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Que Pena! This is What I Get for Trying to Watch the NFL in Spain...

So it's pretty safe to say that today has been mt worst day in Barcelona. By far. Which is good and bad. It's bad because "worst" means by definition that every other day has been better than today. But it's good because my worst day in Barcelona did not involve getting mugged or robbed or elbowed in the side of the head or anything like that. In fact, it involved getting a free burger and 2 free Budweisers. Whaaaaaaa? Oh yes, there's much, much more. I just thought I'd briefly trouble you with that paradox.

OK so first. I quickly mentioned last post this bar I went to with a friend and we played trivia (and came in 2nd). Well, while we were there, they gave us this student discount card that offers a free meal there every day at 8pm. We were gonna go there to watch the Eagles game anyway so we figure ah wat the heck we'll go at 8 for some free dinner and then wait til 9 and watch the game. There's very few places that showed the game here I'm sure, so it seemed like a win-win-win. That last win was me assuming the Eagles were going to show up and beat the Cardinals. But, as we all know (and if you don't, sorry for the spoiler. But you should really know by now; and you probably heard my sobs) they did not in fact show up. Or win.

Well we arrive at Travel Bar Port only to find out that the free meal is being given out at their other bar which is about a 10-15 min walk away. I figure...I've already taken the Metro 30 minutes and walked another 10 for this free meal..what's 15 more minutes. But boy I wish I wasn't so god damn cheap sometimes. We decide to go assuming they will also be showing the Eagles game. We walk into a the bar which is packed with the kind of 20 year olds you would expect to see waiting for a daily free meal. Speaking of that free meal...only one of us got it. And that one of us was not named Joseph Andrew Christopher McNelis III -

-I'm sorry we just gave away the last plate. But if you want to go back to our other bar, the Travel Bar Port. Do you know of it?

-Umm..yeah. I just came from there about 15 minutes ago.

-Oh, ok good. So you know how to get there.

-Yep...I know how to get there.

-Well they're doing a deal there tonight...because it's the SuperBowl...a hamburger and a beer for 4E. You guys should stop by there.

Well, I fell for his little SuperBowl bit and went back to the Travel Bar Port. So we walk back 10-15 minutes, get our seats, our burgers, our beers and start to watch the game. Phew, I thought. But, calamity struck again ladies and gentlemen. About 7 mins into the game, the middle of the first Eagles drive, the lights start to flicker and im like ooook wats going on now. About a minute later, all of the sudden the tv goes fuzzy and all the lights in the bar go out.

Blackout: "Its ok its ok, folks. Just 2 mins. Blew a fuse I'm sure gotta run down and fix it"

5 mins later: "Ooook guys...just 5 min the electrician is on his way we'll have the game back on soon."

5 mins later, about the time the electrician should be showing up, a guy in an apron walks up to our table and says very non-chalantly: "Hey we're gonna have to have you guys put on your jackets and go outside for a few minutes."

As I'm leaving I look to the back of the bar, and all this smoke starts coming out from God knows where. Next thing I see are 2 dudes running back with fire extinguishers shooting all over. So I guess the Travel Bar Port experienced an electrical fire. Whoops. One upside to the bar you're at clearing out because of an electrical fire? They become kind of involved in not having their bar burn to the ground and they forget to charge you 4E for your burger. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

As you can guess, we began Trek #3 between Travel Bar and Travel Bar Port. Luckily we found a table and within 5 minutes we got our "sorry we almost made you die in a fire and temporarily ruined your NFL Playoff watching experience" free beer. Now that I'm settled, I look up at the TV and I do not see the Eagles winning. Nor do I see them losing. Nor do I see any kind of football. I'll give you one guess as to what was on. 5...4...3...2...1.......................................

Well I regret to inform you that whatever you guessed was wrong...because we were watching Snooker. You see what had happened was, the bar we were at currently (Travel Bar) did not have the cable package to get nfl games, but the cable box at Travel Bar Port did. So, as if I hadn't waited long enough to just sit down and watch the damn Eagles game, we had to wait for someone to unhook the cable at Travel Bar Port and walk it over to Travel Bar and hook it up. That was probably another 20 minutes or so. By this time I was disgusted in general, and was expecting the picture to focus and the score to be in the Eagles' favor. Oh how wrong I was 14-6 Cardinals I think? And they were driving...and they scored. And then they scored again. Christ. I was about a split second away from converting the Travel Bar into the "Joe's Beer Traveling Across the Room at High Velocity...Bar". Unfortunately, I kept me cool and nothing exciting happened.

So I went home after the 1st half to hopefully watch the Eags stage an improbable comeback in the comfort of my own bedroom. But, as was the theme of my day, that did not really pan out for me. And let me tell you...the worst way to watch your team lose the 2nd most important game in pro football by 1 score in the final minutes is by yourself in an empty casa, a long, long, way away from anyone who cares that you just watched your team lose the 2nd most important game in pro football by 1 score in the final minutes.

A few hours and a few more profanities have passed, and I think I'm OK now. Once again the Eagles have tugged on our heart strings, stretched them out as far as they could go, and subsequently tore them to only showing up for 1 quarter of a game that requires that you show up for all 4. Even if they had played decently for 2 of the quarters they would have squeaked out a comeback, but it was not to be. I'm not going to comment on the future of Reid or McNabb, because frankly I have no idea. And because I probably give them more credit than alotta people in Philly. It's too early for that anyway. In the end, I have to thank them for the amazing up and down ride that was this season. Hey, we made it to the playoffs when no one else thought we could, and I don't think any other football fans have felt as good as Philadelphia Eagles fans have since Thanksgiving, so I'll toast to that. And seriously folks, after a 25 year drought, did you REALLY think we were gonna do it twice in one year? Come on now. I think we've learned it's better to spread them out, lest we once again become the laughing stock of cities with 4 major sports teams. Oy.

OK, so all in all that wasn't an awful day. But I had to get your attention from the beginning, and if you're still reading now then I have done my job.

I hope everyone is happy and healthy in the US.

Until next time.........GO SIXERS!?!?!

Ha. Good one, jose.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Call Me a Linguist But.......

One of my main goals when coming to Spain was to learn the Spanish language. It's one of my majors and I thought studying abroad would be the best/only way to immerse myself in the culture and get close to the point where I'd be fluent. However, over the last 1-2 weeks I've been here, I'm finding that the encounters I've had in English generally have a better result than my encounters in Spanish or with Spanish speakers. I'll give you a few examples and you decide for yourselves.

First the bad news..AKA Spanish encounters..I might be already biasing your opinion before you read but oh well. And plus, if you're from the US you've had a bias for the past (subtract the year you were born from 2009) years that we (America) are the greatest and best country in the world. Not to mention the first civilized nation to organize a governing body and a set of laws and what not. Right?

-So this one may have come as a result of some friends who do not know the Subway/Metro escalator rules, but still unwarranted. The rule I'm referring to is: If you are riding the escalator up from the station, the right side is for lazy/old people who don't take the stairs and the left side is for extra ambitious/sort of lazy/opportunistic people who take advantage of the fact that you can take the escalator AND walk up the steps, getting to your destination faster than everyone else. So my friends thought that the left side of the escalator was for standing still and waiting to get to the top and talking to me. To their benefit, they asked the guy (who will come into play soon) if he wanted to pass by in Spanish and he just shook his head. However, he was clearly pissed and when he got to the top he "accidentally elbowed me in the side of the head" while putting on his jacket. In other words, the little piece of crap Spaniard cheap shotted me. Now what I probably should have done is thrown him back down the escalator. However, the only thing running through my head was the warning from my program during one of the orientation sessions: "Don't be a hero...they probably are carrying a knife," which was in reference to negative encounters with Spanish teens. The warning they failed to leave me with, but which I found out on my own read, "Don't be an idiot. If a 5'6'', 150 pound Spanish kid punches you in the side of the head, he's probably with his 3 friends who are much larger and stronger than you." Which he was. My best defense was the insults I know in Spanish. So, I told him, in no particular order: maricon, menino, jodate, dejame. If you have time, look em up (if you're a relative and more than 20 years my senior, don't). Thanks.

-Next, I go to a cell phone store where a group of people in my program had bought cell phones the day before. Now, their phones cost them 29euro which is a pretty good deal so I wanted the same. I went up to the counter and asked, in Spanish, for the phone my friends bought yesterday that costs 29euro. The lady gave me a weird look and answered, "No we don't have anything like that. The cheapest phone is 69euro." Right away I knew she was lying, and I had a small fear that people might try to rip us off because they know we're American students. So in Spanish I tell her, "Well, no it's not becasue my friends just bought a 30E phone here yesterday." So she looks a little undecided, goes to the back of the store for about 30 seconds, comes back to the counter, reaches directly below her and pulls out a box. What's in the box? I know the suspense is killing you...but was a cell phone that costs 25E. After that she was quite nice and activated my phone for me and was very pleasant. But, had my amigos not been there the day before, I would have spent an extra 45E or so. Thanks alot, you dumb chica.

-Lastly, I'm walking home from a bar at about 1's a pretty well lit street and I'm totally coherent/sober to start it off. So these 2 dudes walk by me and one asks if i have "fuego," fire or a lighter so he can light his cigarette. I say No, I'm sorry, I don't smoke. So either the way I spoke Spanish or more likely the fact that I said I didn't smoke tipped him off that I wasn't from around here (EVERYONE smokes here it's nuts). So one of them asks me a few things about where I'm from and what not and then we got to talking about the FC Barcelona game that night and how they won and we were both happy about it (he was quite excited that I was an American and still a Barca fan). So I'm going to say bye and he goes to shake my hand...but he did this really weird move where used my hand to like propel himself past the right side of my body...and so as he's walking back past me he (completely indiscreetly) goes to stick his hand in my pocket to go for my wallet. I just hit his hand away and told him to get the hell away. He complied, luckily, and we both just walked away. I got played, yo. Here I am thinking this guy wants to have a nice conversation and he's really just priming me to steal my wallet...EXCEPT HE'S THE WORST PICKPOCKET IN THE WORLD. Like, seriously, that was the poorest attempt I've ever witnessed. I mean, I've lived in Philly, NYC, and seen 3 or 4 different renditions of Oliver Twist, so I've seen pickpocketing on all levels...and this guy was just embarassing himself..I prolly should have just given him 5E out of pity.

So I'm realizing how long this post would be if I wrote allll about my good experiences with English speaking people because they're not all that interesting. I did come in 2nd place in this bar's weekly trivia contest with my friend Austin though. 2nd place gets you a free liter of Estrella Damm, the cheap beer in Spain, and makes you think it's a good idea to do Trivia every Wednesday because you might be able to win 125E. I also had a good conversation in English with a cab driver...and for some reason unbeknownst to me...he really likes the Eagles and he hates the Pittsburgh Penguins. I told him he's living in the wrong city and he should come back to Philly with me in April. He's currently considering it...I'll fill you in on the final decision.

Now I know it makes sense that I would have better experiences with Enslih-speaking people and some Spanish people are probably just pissed because I'm just using their city for 4 months and then peacing back to the US, but I thought I'd have gotten a better reception. And I cannot go on without mentioning my Senora and her family who all speak Spanish but are super nice. She feeds me very well and is always trying to make me eat "mas, mas, Jose." More, more. Also, the amount of new food I've tried is crazy. For my family members who read this, I'm going to compile a list of things I've eaten since I've been here and then you are going to read it and fall out of your chair. I'm becoming a very cultured eater...a far cry from my "chicken buckets" days. I'll explain later for all of you who are confused. OK well I think we can both agree this is becoming a bit tedious. I hope all is well in the States and I can't wait to watch the Cardinals get slaughtered tomorrow. I found a place, aptly named "Sports Bar" where I will be watching it.

Everyone take care and Adios. I'll be back pronto.

Friday, January 9, 2009

La Lengua Espanola: Making Me Look Like a Freak Since 2009

There's a few problems you encounter when you live in a place where they speak a different language. One of them is that, sometimes, the two people talikng don't totally understand eachother because one is talking too fast (the spanish speakers) and the other doesn't know how to say/pronounce correctly everything he needs to say (me). So I've been here about 5 days and I can feel myself getting better, but I obviously have a long way to go. That being said, I would like to humor with a few horribly embarassing yet hilarious "lost in translation" moments.

The One Where I'm a Child Molester...

This one is good, especially since it happened during the first meal I ate with my senora about an hour after I met her for the first time. We were sitting eating almondigas con guisantes y sauza de tomate (meatballs and peas with tomato sauce) and she was asking me about my life, my family, etc. So Sarah came up and I was talking about her a little bit and then my senora asked me "Cuantos anos tiene." Now this was a tricky one because it literally means "how many years have you had or do you have " but it's really a way to ask how old someone is. At this point I was more getting the main idea of what my senora had been saying and not understanding every word so I heard "tiene" (to have) and assumed she meant something to the effect of how long have you had her aka how long have you been dating. So I quickly answered "tres anos," three years., but that was not the right answer at all. So what did I actually tell my senora less than one hour into the 4 months I would be sleeping under her roof, eating her food and having her do my laundry? Yep, you guessed it. I told her I had been dating a 3 year old. And as you can imagine, hilarity ensued as I tried to explain that one.

The One Where Inquire About the Forms of Entertainment Barcelona has to Offer

So as part of my program there are a number of small groups put together and each one has a "Guardian Angel," a Spanish student who is our fearless leader - a guide to the city, the culture, being a student, know, all the important things we need to survive. One day we took a pretty long walk around certain sections of Barcelona, and one of our stops was going to be a store to buy cell phones. Now, the Spanish word for cell phone is "movil," like mobile phone, and pronounced (MOH-veel). I wanted to make sure I had enough money to get a phone and some minutes, so I decided to ask my Guardian Angel (Carlotta is her name) in Spanish. So I marched up to her proudly (at this point most of my group had been speaking English to her and I wanted to impress her with my superior spanish knowledge). So I said to her, "Carlotta, cuanto cuesta un movil?" Well, I either didn't say it loud enough for her to hear it perfectly or I didn't say it correctly (yeah, I'd put my money on B too), but she gave me a very odd look. And it was no kind of look you would expect when you ask someone how much a cell phone costs. Soo what had happened was, she thought I asked her, "cuanto cuesta un novio?" Now for those of you who don't know, and for those of you who do as well, novio means boyfriend/girlfriend, but it can also be a nice way to say prostitute. After we all came to the realization that I was in fact talking about a cell phone, I was able to make light of the situation...I quickly smiled and told her, "Pues, no tengo que pagar para eso."

Translation - "Ohhh, I don't have to pay to get that."

The One Where I Get My Wish or The One Where No Still Means No

This one doesn't really have to do with the theme of the post, but it would be a crime not to tell everyone about it (and, as you'll learn, a crime in itself). So I get off the Metro (subway) and have about 10-15 minutes to kill before my amigos were going to arrive. Since I'm new to Barcelona I like to walk around and get familiar with different areas of the city as much as possible and thought this was a perfect opportunity. So I'm walking along this pretty wide pathway with streets lined with bars and restaurants on either side (I believe it was called La Rambla Catalunya) and as I'm walking across the street a 23-26 year old African woman approaches me. She was wearing jeans and a plain tank-top type shirt, rather conservatively for Saturday at midnight. She locks my arm with hers and asks me if I want to go get a drink somewhere.

Thought 1: Man, I do look pretty good tonight I guess Spano-Africans are not shy people.

Thought 2: Woah am I getting jungle fever?

Thought 3: Maybe she's a club promoter trying to get me to come to her bar/disco?

Thought 4: Wow there's three other girls that look pretty similar to her hanging out on that corner in half shirts and............ohhhhhhhh she's a prostitute...sweet.

I stopped in my tracks and tried to tell her "No" every way I English AND Spanish. She told me she really liked me, wanted to show me this really fun place, and a few other things that I would probably write if I didn't send my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents the link to this blog 10 minutes ago. I eventually was able to shake her off by telling her I wouldn't go anywhere with her unless she gave me $1000 Euros. Needless to say, I will never forget our night of passion.

I hope you all enjoyed laughing at my expense. I've only been here for a week so I'm sure 4 months will bring bigger and better things. It's only a matter of time before my lack of spanish knowledge and my trust in people/stupidity at not knowing this lady was a prostitute strikes again.


Adios amigos...


Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Welcome to my (Joseph A. McNelis III's) Barcelona, Spain Study Abroad blog!
I've never written a blog but I thought it'd be a good way to get down my thoughts/events/feelings about this awesome experience I'm about to have. I've never travled out of the country either, (I don't think the Canadian side of Niagara Falls REALLY counts...if you want to argue, be my guest) so I'm pretty much diving head first into this whole traveling thing. So I guess I'm doing something new to describe the process of doing something cute.
So to begin, my trip went very well, especially the 8 hours I spent in first class, engaging in such activites as eating Seared Red Snapper with Pecans over Rice and Steamed Spinach, watching a private screening of Edward Norton in "The Incredible Hulk" and playing with the remote that could adjust pretty much every section of my seat (thanks Uncle John!). The city of Barcelona is quite large and a bit intimidating, but I'm forever grateful to NYC for preparing me for a place like this. It's B-E-A-utiful as you can see from the picture, and I'll be putting up more of my pictures on SnapFish periodically.
I've met some awesome people already and I'm sure there will be more amigos in the future. It may take a while for all of us to get to know the city, but I figure if we go out every night until the wee hours of the morning and explore all the bars and discotecas (dance clubs) we can, we'll have it down in no time. (Breathe, Mom, it's just a joke) [sort of!]
Classes start tomorrow and while that's something I'm not looking forward to it'll give me a chance to meet some more people and get back into the groove of speaking Spanish - two of my main goals while I'm here. It's a little unnerving to live in a huge city where you don't know your way around and don't always understand the people on the streets, but I'm excited to jump right into the culture and do as much as I can while I'm here.
Well, that's all for now. Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to leave me love/comments/questions/requests/ALONE!
You stay classy, Estados Unidos...