They speak Spainish in Spain.

Cultural Experiences of International Students in Spain

Archive for the ‘Andrea Holm’ Category

Some Arise and 10 Things I Learned

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Andrea Holm: The following articles are ones that I have written throughout the course of the Semester in Multimedia Communications Class.

September 17, 2009          About

September 19, 2009          Spainish Initial Thoughts

September 24, 2009         Class Assignment

September 30, 2009         Does this Blog Already Exist in the Blogosphere?

October 8, 2009                 Is Anyone really Old in Spain?

October 14, 2009              I podcast, Do you Vlog?

October 15, 2009              Infographic

October 22, 2009              Is there such a thing as a professional ex-pat?

10 Things I have learned in the creation of Spainish…

1.  I learned what the heck are Widgets.

2.  I learned how to use RSS feeds.  This has always been very mysterious to me.

3.  The blogosphere is humongous… and growing.  And the more you look, the more you will find.  I learned that there are many more resources for Ex Patriots then I had imagined.  I even found one that is just for women!

4.  Blog upkeep is difficult.  Writing sufficient entries, maintaining comments, and keeping up with your network of blog-buddies is not unlike a full time job.

5.  I learned the importance of hyper-linking.  Connecting to data, research, interesting people through hyperlinks is one of several things that can make a blog such an interesting mode of communication.

6.  Edit. Edit a lot.  And double check your sources.   Mistakes in a blog immediately make it appear to be unprofessional.  The Blog Herald agrees with me.

7.  If you write it, they will come. This is even more true if you write it well.  Having something published online really does mean millions of people have access to you.  Our blog, whom we told almost nobody about, written for a class already has 292 hits.

8.  Blogs can be extremely influential.  The Huffington Post is a great example of an extremely influential blog.

9.  How to network. And that networking can really improve the hits on your personal blog.  We already have one blog-buddy on our blogroll!

10.  Once in, there is no way out. Now that I have begun blogging, and reading related blogs, and getting tweets about blog articles, I’m hooked.


Written by iamandreaholm

October 31, 2009 at 10:08 PM

Is there such a thing as a professional ex-pat?

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Robin Pascoe professional expatriot

Robin Pascoe professional expatriot

Meet Robin Pascoe, a journalist and self-proclaimed professional ex patriot who has been traveling globally for over ten years as the wife of a diplomat.

Along with her husband and two children she has lived in Bangkok, Taipei, Beijing and Seoul.  Robin has been asked by corporate groups to give speeches and presentations in over twenty-five countries about the needs of ex patriots and their families.  Some of her popular presentation topics include:

  • Family Matters!  Attract and Retain Top Talent by Understanding the Family’s Challenges in International Assignments.
  • Work-Life balance in the Global Economy
  • Who Are You Anyway?
  • Understanding Third-Culture Kids in the Classroom

Besides her countless speeches, Robin is well known for authoring four books including: A Broad Abroad, Raising Global Nomads, A Movable Marriage, Homeward Bound, as well as coauthoring Living and Working Abroad .  She also writes regularly for expatriate newspapers, magazines and web sites and has been interviewed by many publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, Working Mother Magazine, Utne Reader, CNN, and others.

Robin Pascoe’s book trailer:  

If I were to intervie Robin Pascoe I would like to ask her:

“What definition do you use to define an ex-patriot?”

“Is there a time period one must live outside his/her home country before he/she is considered an ex-patriot?”

“Have you noticed several personality traits that ex-patriots have in common after having lived for many years outside their home country?”

“Do you feel that you lose a sense of home and old friendships having lived for so long and so far from where you grew up?  And will your kids lose that sense of home having lived in so many different places during these formative years?”

Written by iamandreaholm

October 22, 2009 at 5:01 PM


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I would like to draw attention today to the use of multimedia in blogs and newspapers.

Last year I had the opportunity to create a multimedia project for the local newspaper here in Pamplona, Diario de Navarra.  The multimedia project was for a special section of the site,  The project that my team created was  intended for people interested in running with the bulls during San Fermines, an annual festival that takes place in July here in Pamplona.   This multimedia project created with flash explains How to Run With The Bulls.  (You will have to scroll to the bottom of the page to find the multimedia graphic.)

This infographic has a map of Spain, or Pamplona, as well as a more detailed map of the route itself.  The graphic describes the necessary things you need to know before running (dress, entrance locations and times), as well as things you need to know while running (how many bulls, emergency personnel, and the dangers of each section of the route).

The infografic contains text, video, and images.  The video´s are short and intended to maintain the attention of the viewer while detailing simple things runners will see while participating.  In several sections the photos are made into a short slide show so as to show several photos of the same thing without taking up more space.  Because the infographic runs on flash, there are several animated images (zooming in on the maps and creating movement of the runners and bulls on the screen).

There is very little interaction in this graphic.  It has been created in a way that the viewer is able to see all of the information in a lineal manner.  The only option the viewer has is to move forward, backward and to view the map of the route.  At the end of the graphic, the viewer has the option of watching it again from the beginning.

This piece has not yet been updated as it was only recently created in the summer of 2008.

Though this particular graphic makes no use of social media, viewers have the option on to be updated with festival events on twitter.

I found another  multimedia piece in the New York Times about several other students experiences while studying abroad. The piece was published November 4, 2007.  They state ” With more than 6,000 programs in 100 countries, study abroad is a fringe add-on no longer. ”

This piece is divided into four sections for the four students being profiled.  Each section has within it an audio interview of the student- about a minute and a half long, and several related photos.

The page format is very simple.  It has no hypertext linking to student blogs or other sites, and it as no video.  Text is used sparingly, giving only basic information.  One audio link and two to three photos accompany each student profile.  There are no special features like timelines, maps or infographics.

The user has control within this piece, to navigate as they wish among the four students, the audio streams, and the photos.

The piece has never been updated, though I think it would be interesting if they were to continue toprofile more students and their experiences throughout the years.

They make no use of social media within the graphic.

Overall I believe the first multimedia tool made more use of the different methods of interactivity, video, photos, and animation within the site. itself has many videos, quizzes, and even a message board for travelers to discuss places to stay etc.

The multimedia tool I found on the NYTimes was interesting, but contained far less information and interactivity for the viewer.

Written by iamandreaholm

October 15, 2009 at 7:01 PM

I-Podcast do U-Vlog?

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I bought an I-pod several months before moving to Spain.  I walk a lot in Spain, so having an I-pod has really made life more enjoyable during my 30 minute walks to work or home from classes.  I-podding isn’t just music;  these days an I-pod can provide you with movies, music videos, and my newest favorite, podcasts.

The term “podcasting” was first used in 2004, and now only 5 years later it is used across the spectrum to create episodic, downloadable, and thematic programs.  Podcasts are created by podcasters.  I-tunes and Winamp are examples of podcatchers, or software that automatically finds and downloads the new episodes as they are released.

I would like to use this website to recommend a few podcasts that I found particularly interesting and pertinent to the topic at hand.   Voices in Español is a bilingual blog and podcast created for intermediate to advanced Spanish speakers.  I found that it has a lot of stories regarding intercultural relations, albeit most are about Latin Americans living in the United States.  These stories and anecdotes told by native Spanish speakers can both help to improve your Spanish speaking, as well as improve your understanding of intercultural interactions.

Another interesting blog/ podcast I found, Notes From Spain was put out by a bi-cultured married couple who now live in Madrid.  Ben from the UK, and Marina from Spain write and speak about Spanish culture, interesting destinations, fiestas, beaches, landscapes and towns around Spain.  They also discuss some of the cultural differences they experience as a married couple coming from two very different cultures.

Vlogs are another form of information and entertainment.  Vlogs are blogs made with videos rather than words.  Vlog International is a fascinating collaboration project made up of many Spanish speaking vloggers from many different countries.  You can read about Vlog International at Global Voices or simply watch the posts on their site.  This site could also help a non-Spanish speaker like me to improve their vocabulary and pronunciation.

Armadillo TV is a video blog created by a Colombian journalist who until recently was living in Spain.  He created this blog to document his personal experiences.  Although he recently moved back to Columbia, his blog has many interesting video anecdotes about his life as a foreigner living in Barcelona.

Written by iamandreaholm

October 14, 2009 at 11:20 PM

Is anyone really old in Spain?

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Old ladies.  Spain seems to have a lot of old ladies.  I just don’t remember seeing so many old ladies walking around on the streets when I was growing up.

I decided to do some research on this.  According to Wikipedia, of Spain’s 46.1 million people, about 3.2 million of them are women 65 and older, and 4.4 million of them are men 65 and older.  All together, this portion of the population is 16.5 %.

I grew up in Minnesota.  I looked up the same statistics on Wikipedia regarding the 65 and older population.  Minnesota’s total population is 5.1 million people (which makes Spain roughly 9 times bigger).  The 65 and older portion is 12.2%, which means Minnesota has 622,000 “old ladies and men”  And as there are .72 males/ female in this particular age demographic, that makes about 366,000 old ladies in Minnesota.  If you multiply that number times nine (Spain is roughly 9 times bigger than Minnesota) then Minnesota has basically the same number of old ladies as Spain does.

But its weird, because in Minnesota, unless you are at Mystic Lake casino at 11 am on a Wednesday, or at an elderly persons home, you rarely see any of these old people.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that they don’t need to rely on cars to get around.   Although we have excellent mass transportation in Minnesota (like the metrotransit buses and lightrail) we generally don’t spend too much time walking around.  A movement has begun towards using less cars and more bicycles, (check out the greenway bike trail) but this is usually a younger or more modern section of the public.

In Spain, on the other hand, old ladies are walking around everywhere.  Within walking distance of just about every neighborhood you will find a grocery store, several bakeries, a meat market, fish market, fruit store, a tobacco shop and several bus stops.  Old ladies buy their own groceries using a bag on wheels to tote them home.  They pick up bread and newspapers in the mornings at the bakery.  One day I caught myself fighting for my place in line with an elderly lady at a mobile phone shop, and another day another elderly lady insisted on going to the front of the line at the fish market I was shopping at because her husband was home sick.  These old ladies don’t just get out, they have gusto! And it works.  People stop aside.  They don’t argue back.  They treat these ladies with respect.

In Minnesota I used to walk to the local grocery store every few days with my dad.  Two years ago though, like many smaller businesses, the neighborhood store closed down.  According to google maps, the grocery store he goes to now is 8 minutes driving, or an hour walk from his house.  My dad is an active person, but you have to admit that its pretty inconvenient.  In Bloomington, where I grew up, the bakery is a section of the grocery store, as is the fish market, the fruit store, and the fish market.  We do all of our shopping at once, load the groceries into the trunks of our cars, and drive home.

So maybe the reason I don’t notice all the old ladies in Minnesota is that they aren’t walking around the neighborhood doing their daily chores.  Maybe, like my grandmother, they don’t drive and they need someone to do their grocery shopping for them.  Maybe they come out, but its just once a week, and they get it all done at once.

Where I live now I can walk to the grocery store in less than three minutes.  I can smell the bread baking from the bakery below my window every morning and I can choose between the meat market across the street, the fish market kitty corner, or buying a ready made kebab from the shop just next door.  In all of these places I am generally standing in line behind  well-dressed old lady or two.

In my dad’s neighborhood there is a woman whose doctor told her she should move her body more.  He recommended an upright three-wheeled bicycle.  The last time I was home my dad pointed her out as she was doing her laps up and down the same street.  He said she did it every day at the same time.  Up and down.  The same street.  I imagine that this woman could also walk as far as the movie rental place several blocks away, or perhaps she could ride her three-wheeled bicycle to the lake just across the street, but she chooses to stick to her laps up and down the same street.  And still, you have to think, good for her.

But here, I don’t know, maybe it is something in the Mediterranean diet- all that wine and olive oil, but these ladies can move.  They walk their dogs.  They take up tables at the bars-drinking wines and liqueurs, playing cards at long tables. Even after midnight on a weeknight you will see a whole group of them dining or drinking together!   They are walking the pathways around the parks at night.  They are waiting outside the shops for the local bus.  They are out! It makes me wonder, are you ever really old in Spain?


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Written by iamandreaholm

October 8, 2009 at 12:33 AM

Does this blog already exist in the Blogosphere?

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It seems that in this mundo de blogosphere, where there are blogs about scrapbooking, cooking, social media and sports… millions upon millions of them of every detail of every topic imaginable, there probably is already a blog out there about the exact same topic.  Maybe it is.  But that isn’t important.  Instead I have several related blogs and websites to recommend to anyone interested!

Although writing about washing machines in the kitchen and people talking loudly on their cellular phones may sound like a fun, silly topic, writing about the cultural differences you experience while living abroad can actually be a commentary on much deeper issues.  These simple anecdotes can have roots based on the history of our countries, differences in politics, and the resulting sociological outcomes.  Although we have begun the blog with very simple topics, if Gabe and I were to spend many more years here in Spain, or elsewhere in Europe, our commentary would likely begin to uproot more of these deep seeded issues.  I would like therefore, to reference Expat Abroad, a blog I ran across about another ex-pat woman living in the Middle East.  I wanted to show this blog as an example of one direction a blog like ours could take.

Other blogs have a lighter take on the life of an expat.  A good example would be Erik’s Blog– thoughts and photos from an American living in Spain.  Erik uses post titles such as “Thinking in Green”, “Zappatero’s daughters” and “Metric Money” to make comic reference to some of the cultural, and language differences he has encountered while living in Spain.


I have also discovered several websites that speak to the topic of erasmus (Europe’s version of study abroad) or studying abroad.  A good website I have found that help’s to prepare you for the difficulties you will encounter both before leaving the United Sates, and upon your arrival in a new country is in the international travel section of the U.S. Department of State website.  Here you will find advice for getting your student Visa, as well as some great deals for students and teachers while studying abroad.

The last website I would like to recommend is the British Councils website on Erasmus, which explains the concepts behind Erasmus, or studying abroad.  It has case studies, statistics, things to know before you go, and a place to apply.  On this website you can browse all kinds of things you might want to know before embarking on the erasmus (study abroad) experience.

Written by iamandreaholm

September 30, 2009 at 11:01 PM

Class Assignment

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Today we are supposed to give several examples of websites and blogs that have different levels of adaptability within them.  I am translating the definitions from Spanish to English, so this may seem a bit confusing.  It IS, in fact, a bit confusing to me.

We are focusing on:

Control- The capacity of the user to alter or regulate the system.  You can become your own MandM using the MandM website.  You are able to manipulate the controls to change the color, body shape, and accessories of an MandM to suit your personal style.

Feedback- The ability of the user to manipulate the site, or user comments to be used by the site.  On Amazon the website uses customer feedback to give the buyer more information.  For example, when buying a book on Amazon, the website updates you with information regarding others who bought the same book.  It will tell you how satisfied they were with that book, as well as other books they bought.  After purchasing something, you, as a buyer, are asked for feedback to improve the site: how well you liked the product, how likely you would be to purchase the product again, how satisfied you were with the shipping of the product, etc.  This information is then given to new potential buyers browsing the website.

Productivity- The website´s ability to expand upon useful materials.   Banco de Sonidos y imagines is a website in which you can search and download different images, sounds, videos and animations.  This can be useful on your own webpages or projects.  On this site you may also share images, sounds and videos of your own with others.

Creativity- The users ability to generate something origional, artistic, or curious.  Photofunia is a website that allows the user to paste thier own photos into already generated images.  The website belnds the photos together in such a way that it can appear as if your own face is on, say, the dollar bill or a postage stamp.  The site is fun to use and the results can be funny.

Adaptability-  The users ability to personalize the page based on likes and dislikes.  Spotify is an online radio station in which the user is able to find and play thier favorite songs, use those songs to find other similar songs,

Communication- The capacity of the page to facilitate finding people, dialog between people and exchange of photos, information etc. allows Americans to easily connect with classmates from elementary, middle school, high school and college.  Using the database you can do a search on the city, name of the school and year of graduation.  You can upload photos, as well as post information about reunions and gatherings.

Written by iamandreaholm

September 24, 2009 at 6:29 PM