¡Hola a todos! It’s Iain here in Salamanca and I’m back with another On Location Spanish blog post.
The Gran Vía is one of Salamanca’s main roads, and it is surrounded on all sides by bars, cafés and student flats, so it’s a common meeting point for the intercambios de lengua (“language exchanges”) that my flatmates and I do to improve our Spanish. Even in mid-November, it’s possible to sit outside, and nothing quite beats a pincho (“nibble”; a small portion of tapas) and a caña (a small beer) in the autumn sun.
Instead of the usual light-hearted conversation, however, things have been a bit more serious recently. To protest against the recortes (“budget cuts”), many Spaniards took to the streets to echo similar protests across the EU, and all the newspapers were filled with reports, opinion and pictures of the day.
Called La Huelga General (“the general strike”) or 14N (to reflect the 14th of November date for the strike), several public services were disrupted. For example, if my University had been open on the day of the strike, I would have had to walk instead of taking my usual bus. The budget cuts clearly strike a chord with Spaniards and they have become a large part of Spanish popular culture – barely a day goes by without them being referenced in the press or the television noticias (“news bulletins”). I think it will be interesting to see how they shape and alter this culture going forward.
As November marches on, Salamanca is gearing up for Christmas. I popped in to El Corte Inglés (Spain’s beloved department store, similar to the UK’s John Lewis or France’s Galeries Lafayette) the other day, and the place is already full of Christmas gifts, music and decorations. On the street, churrerías (churros vendors) are popping up to sell their hot piped, fried donuts to cold passers-by. My Spanish friends say that Christmas celebrations have only just started in Salamanca – I’ll keep you all posted in my next update.