Spanish Lessons (Jessica Peterson)

spanishlessons

Vivian Bingley has big plans for her semester abroad in Spain… 

Along with her BFF, Maddie, Vivian hopes to indulge her inner Art History nerd by visiting the best museums in the world. She also wants to tackle more practical concerns — like a less than stellar GPA in her major, Economics — with the help of a Spanish tutor.

But falling for her studly Spanish tutor definitely isn’t one of them.

Madrileño Rafa Montoya is the stuff study abroad dreams are made of: super studly and super smart. He also happens to be super into Vivian. With his wicked dancing skills and his passion for the arts, he tempts her to throw caution to the wind and live out her wildest dreams. 

Only problem? Maddie wants Rafa, too, and Vivian promised herself she’d never settle for second best again…not after a hookup-gone-awry last semester left her heartbroken. Is it best for Vivian to protect her heart at all costs? Or is letting Rafa in worth the risk?


First of all I would like to say that some of the feelings at the beginning of the book felt familiar to me. I never did the Erasmus program during my undergrad years, but during my Masters I relocated to Barcelona to do the practical component of it, and stayed for roughly 6 months. I was never as lost as Vivian feels though, because even though I didn’t dominate the Spanish language, I always understood it – Portuguese people mostly understand spanish quite well. But still, it’s a daunting feeling, to not feel at home… I know, because I felt it again when I moved again to Barcelona a little over 3 years ago.

Also, I freaking love this cover!!!

Now, onto the book itself. I really liked the writing. It was fun and easy and Vivian was mostly a fun narrator. Obviously, because I do understand spanish SUPER well, I sometimes found it too much to have the translation after every spanish phrase uttered, but I do understand its presence. I did have a couple of moments where I totally went “OK, I’m pretty sure that’s not right”, like Venga con dios” being translated as “Go with God”… nope, it’s Vaya, because “Venga” means “come” and not “go”. Or “Quiero ser contigo”… again nope… the right ways would be “quiero estar contigo”, I know that in english the verb TO BE is used for a lot of things, but for us the verb SER and ESTAR mean different things, though they both translate to TO BE.

The thing that, well, didn’t bothered me, but I just couldn’t quite see it, it was the descriptions of the spanish people and certain habits. Well, maybe I’m just living in the wrong part of Spain, but the way that the spanish people are described? Not exactly what I see everyday. Now, I can totally blame the city here, I’ve only been to Madrid once and back then I wasn’t actually looking (really looking), but here in Barcelona? Nope. I don’t see it.

Other thing that kind of bothered me was the coffee. Wow Cristina, nitpicking much? Well, I am! Because coffee is very important for my survival and the coffee here sucks. With that said, and especially in the center of Madrid, it is quite easy to find coffee chains like Starbucks that not only serve all kinds of coffee, but they all have to-go cups. I know, because in my first day in the city I located a bunch of them. Also, not that I get out much, but I usually see people drinking way more bear than red wine…

Ok, I’m done! Now onto the story :D. I liked the fact that it dealt with Vivian finding her true passion and what she wants to do with her life. I also understand her unwillingness to keep having flings and to find The One, though I thought that at 20, and with very little experience under her belt, it was a bit TOO important for her, if that makes any sense.

I liked how she slowly decided to make the choices that were best for her, and stop focusing on what she should be doing. Still, her road there was a bit unnerving at times. I was frustrated with this girl for most of the book!

Rafa, on the other hand, was a delight to read. I loved his broken english. And how friendly he was to everyone. And how patient he was with Vivian… though, let’s be honest, that had to be hard.

I could have done with the weird sort of love triangle. It was weird! It’s worth noting that Rafa is NEVER interested in Maddie though. I thought that both Viv and Mads were in the wrong, but honestly? Mostly Maddie! She got under my skin. True that Vivian should have been honest about her feelings for Rafa, but Maddie KNEW (and she admits that she knew) that her best friend had feelings for this guy, and still she made a move on him. Not right!

I was super happy about the last 20% of the book. I liked the resolution of the story a lot. That, Raffa, and Vivian’s sense of humour while narrating it, totally did the book for me. I’m excited about the next story of the series, which will be about Maddie, even though I had a lot of problems with her character during this book.

Wandering About: Madrid (2008)

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OHHHH, I haven’t done one of these in a while!!! I had a good reason though, because in October I filled this blog with posts about South Korea and Japan, and I didn’t want to overwhelm everyone with traveling posts… But, it has been a while now, so I’m going back to this. Today I’ll share some pictures of Madrid (Spain).

Incredibly, even though I LIVE IN SPAIN, I’ve only been to Madrid once, and it was because I had a course/workshop there about Forensic Anthropology. I actually really loved the city, and I think I would rather live there than in Barcelona (though Barcelona is undoubtedly more beautiful).

I didn’t take much pictures, and I didn’t saw that much of the city because the course was 5 days (if I remember correctly), so I’ll show you some of the stuff that we saw during this workshop… 😀 (warning, you might be a bit creeped out).

Yep people, those are bones… human bones… In case you’re wondering, the skull had a lot of bone growth, some kind of bone cancer, most likely. And the last pic is a skeleton of a subadult individual.

Wandering About: Barcelona 2009 – 2012

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Welcome again, to another week of Wandering About. I’ve been showing some amazing places that I’ve been at, but I thought that it was time to share some photos from the place I’m currently in: Barcelona! Though, technically, I live outside of the city right now.

I first set foot in Barcelona in January 2009, when I came to perform the lab analysis of my master’s samples. I was lucky enough to come with a friend, who was also doing a stay at a lab in this same university – it was a huge coincidence, and we only found out on the day before that we would actually be on the same flight to the city.

2009 was also the time I saw the most of the city, because I had company probably, but also, when you actually live somewhere, you don’t get in such a hurry to visit some stuff… Look at Park Guell – before you had to pay to get in – still one of my favorite spots in the city.

See that guy in red in the penultimate photo? That guy was hot and cute and was smiling like hell, and I was trying to actually get a photo of him. I have several, all of them from really far away. Me and my friend had a fun day! Also, here is the most known market in Barcelona, La Boqueria:

When I finished my master’s work, I went back home, and then I returned to Barcelona in December 2011 to complete my enrolment in the Doctoral program here at the university.

In September 2012 (3 years ago), I moved here again. I was here for just a week or so, when my cousin came to visit me, and I was able to actually see a bit of the city again…

And that’s it! Barcelona is a gorgeous city, it truly is. I have to collect my most recent photos and do a post just about the old part of the city, The Ramblas, and the Gothic and the sea front… it’s lovely. But usually when I go there, I’m not in tourist mode, I’m in “I want to do something” mode, so I end up not taking photos of nothing… I will though, before I leave for good.