My Life Lately + Photos

Hi all! You may be wondering why it seems my blog has suddenly become so neglected. I haven’t really felt the blogging muse lately. In truth, my life is not all that different from yours, if you’re reading this from the USA. I was working, paying the bills, shopping at the grocery store (I mean, supermarket), hanging out with friends, and the like. June has been a good month all in all: I finished the school year with good memories, and the World Cup started, which has been keeping my attention even if Spain had an early and rather ugly exit.

But now I’m back at my parents’ home in Indiana, and I couldn’t be happier about it. And since I haven’t felt inspired lately, I thought I’d share some unshared photos from this past year.

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An image of Zamora in tilesIMG_0102A weekend trip to Paris—a bit cloudy and cold, but beautiful nonetheless

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Whatsapp—Why Spain’s Over the SMS

Whatsapp, I mean, what’s up? What’s up is that Spaniards don’t text anymore!

Okay, they send messages of text, but they don’t use SMS (Short Message Service) technology, which relies upon standardized communications protocols to send messages between cell phones. In the U.S., we do a lot of texting and the majority of use SMS or, if you have an iPhone, iMessage. But in Spain, where sending SMS messages is expensive, people have looked for other options. One of the most-popular choices is Whatsapp, which was founded in 2009 by two former employees of Yahoo!. In October 2011, there were approximately one billion messages sent per day via Whatsapp. Now? Over ten billion as of August 2012. In August 2013, there were more than 300 million active users of the service.

Global Reach of Messaging Apps

Source: Onavo Insights

As you can see, Whatsapp has 99% reach in Spain and only 9% in the U.S. So when newbies come to Spain, they usually have to be introduced to the ever-growing phenomenon.

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Telephone

I first got a cell phone in high school. And yes, dearest husband, it’s a cell phone. No mobile phone for me. (I’m not British.) It was an awesome, Nokia-style one, although I can no longer recall the brand. Check it out:

Nokia

I had a boyfriend, you see. And my parents needed to be able to check up on me when I stayed out to the dangerously-late hour of 11 p.m. We were crazy kids, really—watching movies, eating Skittles, and generally causing mayhem.

My freshman year of college I got a “camera phone.” It’s humorous to think about that terminology now, isn’t it? Nowadays all smart phones (“esmarfons” in Spanish) come equipped with GPS, and a camera goes without saying. How else are we to Instagram?

In Spain, the trend is a bit behind the US, but it’s catching up. There are, however, a few differences between how people use cell phones here vs. in the US.

  • Voicemails. Spaniards do not like voicemails. It costs more money to make calls here, so people prefer not to have to waste €0.07 for when the voicemail message starts to play. I had a voicemail on my phone a few years ago without realizing it until someone told me to “take it off.” Practically no one leaves voicemails. So there’s no use having a voicemail inbox.
  • Dropped calls a.k.a. “toques.” A dropped call (llamada perdida or toque in Spanish) are a way of life here in Spain. You call someone, let it ring, but hang up before they answer. The other person then, perhaps somewhat mysteriously, knows what message you are communicating. For instance, Mario’s parents often give him a dropped call when they arrive somewhere safely. A dropped call can also mean “call me” if the other person has free calls. In the US, I never even think about doing this.
  • Whatsapp. Whatsapp, pronounced as “wasap” here in Spain, is a way of life. It’s text messaging, but it doesn’t use the standard SMS platform. You can send texts, photos, videos, and audio. Mario’s friend even sent me his location when I asked where they were one day. Since most Spaniards do not have unlimited texting, like we often do in the States, it’s a way to save money while still being constantly connected to your friends. I like it because it allows me to text friends in the States.
  • iPhone. The iPhone is popular here, but not nearly as popular as in the US, based solely on anecdotal evidence. It’s becoming more and more popular, but a lot of Mario’s friends have BlackBerries, which are smartphones, but not on the same level as an iPhone or an Android phone. I remember when BlackBerries were the thing on my college campus, but that was back in 2007. I doubt the Blackberry is anywhere near cool nowadays. I read an article saying they were “the cell phone equivalent to Myspace.” Ouch. Remember: the BlackBerry is feminine—la Blackberry.
  • Abbreviations. We all use shortcuts sometimes. Although I’m not one to text things like “How r u?” to my friends, I’m not going to pretend to be above abbreviations altogether. Spaniards also abbreviate, but—duh!—in Spanish.
    • xqporque/por qué—because/why
    • n—no—no
    • k—used instead of q, like kieres instead of quieres
    • +—más—more
    • Absence of vowels—writing vr instead of ver or hblr instead of hablar
  • Landlines. I don’t know about you, but many people in the States no longer have landlines. At my parents’ house, there’s no longer a home phone, much to my mother’s dismay. In Spain, however, having a landline is still a thing. When you sign up to get DSL with many Internet companies, you get a landline as well. They’re nice because you often get free calls from your line to anyone else in the country. And if you have to call some customer-service line … fewer euros out of your pocket! Always a good thing.

In 2008, I survived a whole semester without a (Spanish) cell phone. Looking back, I don’t know how I did it. Most of the other students got them; I just didn’t see the point. Four years ago, but my attitude seemed to be of another decade. Nowadays I’ve always got my phone. What about you?