20 Questions (minus a few)

Back in Madrid after a terrific two weeks in the states, I’m left wondering when my next visit will be. Saying goodbye is never easy but I am comforted by the fact that I enjoy life here. So, what exactly do I mean by that? Well, here are the most typical questions I encountered these past few weeks, and I think they will help shed some light on the who/what/when/where/why.

1) Remind me–what do you do, exactly?

I’m an English-teaching assistant at a high school in Madrid. This time around I´m in technology, art, and English classes. The most challenging classes are the ones that have hearing-impaired and special ed students.

Project Christmas Vocab. Colored paper and cotton balls–Santa would be proud.

2) What do you do outside of school?

So many things! In addition to working at the high school, I also give private English lessons five days a week. I´m improving my Spanish through an intercambio with a teacher at my school. I have a card for the city library system, and I travel when I can. Exploring Madrid´s parks, restaurants, museums and other culture offerings never gets old. There are always tons of activities happening; I´ve been to a short film festival, a wine tasting, plays, the ballet, language exchanges, and more.

3) Who do you hang out with?

I came with a program and was lucky to fall into a community right off the bat. Some of these friends have renewed for a second year, and it´s always great to see them. I´ve got friends from among the English-teaching community at my school, as well as amig@s that I made at camp this summer. In many cases I´m also friends of their friends and it never ceases to amaze me at how often I run into these acquaintances around the city. (Heck, when I got back on Sunday it took an entire seven hours before I ran into a friend of a friend. And that was my first venture out of the apartment after a four-hour jet-lag siesta.)

Hanging out with shrubs (and friends) in Córdoba

4) Do you ever go to bars and discotecas?

Yes, I do. Going to bars is very commonplace–it’s where you can get your caffeine fix, where you meet up with friends; in short, a totally different experience than what I was used to in a dry county in Arkansas. Discotecas are always a fun option when I feel like putting on the dancing shoes, but I usually avoid these establishments since I´m not a fan of paying steep entrance fees. The most ridiculous night out in Madid includes a climb through Kapital, the city´s 7-story jungle of a discoteca. I have been there once, because I wanted the experience; however, due to crowds, entrance fee, and obnoxious young-ins, I doubt I´ll ever be back.

5) Who do you live with?

I have a French roommate who is a little older than me whom I met through my friend Cindy. The Roomie is in her last year of vet school and, as quite a serious, studious student, I see her very little. I love, love, love only living with one other person as opposed to a houseful.

6) Is there a special someone in Madrid? I want to know if you are getting married soon so I have an excuse to visit Spain.

Unless you and I have sang “Happy Birthday” to one another the past five years, chances are I’m not going to divulge any of that juicy information.  I can tell you, though, of the time a lawyer offered to shave big bucks off of my future divorce.

7) Have you traveled to other places?

Yes. Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes.

Italy to Switzerland via the Bernina Express

8 ) How’s your Spanish? Are you fluent?

There are so many different ideas of fluent that I get plain dizzy wondering if I am or I amn’t. I’ve still got a lot to learn, but if you consider being able to find housing, open a bank account, and show disgust, then I am headed down that road.

9) What´s next?

Even I’m not sure. You’ll just have to keep reading!

For now, Madrid it is

If you went home for Christmas, what other questions did you encounter? 

← Previous post

Next post →


  1. I kinda hate the fluent question, but I say yes now. I still struggle for words at times, but basically I can communicate in almost every situation. Legal? Maybe not. But that’s a special case.

  2. “are you going to stay in spain forever??? when are you coming home?”

    super awkward with a certain spanish guest with me… lol

  3. Cassandra

    @Kaley – It’s always tough to explain that one! Typically I just throw in how I have a degree in the language and that seems to be the tidy answer.

    @Chelsea – Yikes! How do you answer that?!

  4. Ooh, good questions…yes, I would imagine you got them a lot! I know it can be frustrating.

    For me the most difficult thing is explaining to non-art or non-academia-involved/understanding (for lack of a better word) people what I want to do with my degree or what I can do with it. Also, it’s difficult to make people who have not been effected by the bad economy understand that I can be doing everything right but that doesn’t mean I’ll get the job of my choosing anytime soon. That’s a bit aggravating. Also, explaining that I’m not being trained to do landscape/wedding/newspaper photography….as in, what else is there!? ha.

  5. Cassandra

    @Kristen – Q and A sessions can also be funny, like when people ask about the Mexican food, or if I can find things like tampons.

    I bet you also have a ton of explaining to do as a student of fine arts! How exactly do people react when they find out you are not doing those senior photo shots??

  6. The most difficult question I got while home for the holidays was just simply, “how’s Spain?” Umm.. temperate?

  7. I just discovered your blog today, so I was happy to read this post. I feel like I’ve caught up some what now, and can’t wait to read more. Thanks for sharing!


  8. Cassandra

    @Shana–Yes!! How is it possible to sum up so much in so few words?

    @Kristina–Thank you! I’ll pop over to your website in a bit and see where your own travels have brought you!

  9. What a great post Casey! One of my favorite questions is “Do you have any friends?” I would like to come up with some ridiculous answer that mentions the seven wine bottles I have sitting in my room, but I usually come up with a tamer answer!

  10. Cassandra

    Thanks, Alison!

    I also encountered the “Do you have any friends?” question a few times, too! This is a variation of “Who do you hang out with?”; some people were amazed I’d managed to connect with the locals. Hopefully you were able to say that PLUS sneak in the part about your seven new wine friends!

Leave a Reply

Read previous post:
Home turf

A cattail trolled from the Arkansas River A few days ago I met a longtime friend for coffee. In selecting...