Why a man’s ‘compliment’ in Australia actually terrified me

He wasn’t just trying to “mansplain” my valid reaction — he was trying to bully me into thanking him for sexually harassing me.

Source: Why a man’s ‘compliment’ in Australia actually terrified me


I WAS IN DARWIN, Australia and my friend Nicole and I had decided that our coolest fashion option would be to wear sundresses — but nothing flashy or revealing. Just normal cotton sundresses.

We strolled down Mitchell Street, a strip known for scandalous ladies’ nights and backpacker debauchery. We wanted to avoid the beer-soaked scene of our peers and instead set our sights on a small local pub with pool tables visible through the wide windows. There weren’t too many people inside, but I noticed a group of men in their 40s and 50s sitting outside smoking cigarettes, laughing and drinking beer. I groaned inwardly as I saw them look up at us in unison, elbowing each other like a bunch of teenage boys. I held my breath and stared straight ahead as I walked past, their leering gazes made me feel like I wanted to take a bath in hand sanitizer.

We ordered a couple of pints, paid for the pool table, and began an effort to have a normal night of drinking beer and shooting pool. But I never stopped noticing the men watching us, and they never stopped watching us. Their stools outside gave them a prime viewing position to stare at us through the window as we racked up, took forced sips of beer and chalked the cue. I said I would break, and the second I bent over to aim, a cheer went up from outside. I ignored it and broke. I was solids. We kept playing for a few more rounds, trying to act normal, like we couldn’t see or hear them. Nicole had to bend to hit the cue ball, and her backside was facing the men, so I stood behind her as she lined up the shot. I could hear the men sniggering outside, so I got fed up, whipped around, threw my hands in the air and yelled, “What the fuck are you staring at? Don’t look at us!”

I was shaking with anger and trying to chalk my cue when one of them stumbled in and on the way to the bar said, “Oh, don’t worry about that. We were saying nice things. Good things.”

“I don’t care. Don’t look at us,” I replied curtly.

He looked confused. “No,” he said as he shook his head, “You don’t understand. They were compliments. Compliments! We were saying nice things.”

“I understand, sir, but I don’t need your compliments,” I replied calmly.

His face instantly changed from good-natured drunk to ready-for-a-fight. “Oh, you’re really fucking immature, you know that? You’re a bitch. We were only giving you compliments. Grow the fuck up.”

“I never asked for your compliments, and what you were doing was invading my private space. It made me feel very uncomfortable,” I said, as if I were talking to a toddler.

I was trying to stay calm to keep him calm, but that didn’t seem to work. He walked quickly, threateningly toward me, calling me more offensive names and reiterating his stance that he had done nothing wrong. He was just paying us a compliment. I tried to ask him if he might understand that a group of men leering at two women might make those women feel uncomfortable and unsafe. He got right up in my face, so close that I could feel the heat of his beer breath and said, “You’re a fucking crazy bitch, you know that? Grow the fuck up.”

“Get out of my face,” I replied calmly, keeping my feet firmly planted and my head held high. My knuckles had turned white from gripping the cue stick, and I was already imagining throttling him with it if he turned violent. He wasn’t just trying to “mansplain” my valid reaction — he was trying to bully me into thanking him for sexually harassing me. Suddenly there was breathable air between us as one of his friends, who looked less like a violent rapist, pulled him away, trying to laugh it off while apologizing.

I spent the rest of the night fearful that the man and his pack of testosterone-fueled fools would wait for us outside and try to put Nicole and me in our place. It’s not the first time I’ve feared for my safety as a woman. From being followed down the street in Sicily by men asking me ‘Quanto?’ to being asked to dinner by random men on the street in Istanbul to being groped at Penn Station in New York when I was 14 to being hissed at and stared at like a tasty arepa con chicharron as I walked through the streets of Medellin. Whether we’re abroad or at home, females have a constant mental checklist in our heads relating to our safety and likelihood of being harassed or raped in any situation. I feel that this is in large part due to the things that are said to us, to sexist rhetoric that is deemed acceptable worldwide, but still shocks me when it appears in Western countries, like America and Australia.

We are seeing a rage lately, though — against a type of culture that allows men to continue with their ill-founded macho behavior. And that rage is worldwide. Right now, it’s in Argentina where women donned all black and marched to protest sexual violence after the brutal rape and murder of 16-year-old Lucia Perez on October 19. These women are demanding a cultural change in machismo culture in the Latin American world, in the same way that women in other countries, which boast equality of the sexes, should be demanding a rhetoric that demonstrates this shaky equality.

Australia and the United States are two very similar countries, culturally speaking. Both are English-speaking new nations with advanced democracies, and both aggrandize their forward thinking while they are simultaneously held back by conservatives. If countries like ours are to truly embrace their claims of equality for all, then we all need to take part in an active social change that stigmatizes sexist speech in the same way that it stigmatizes racial slurs. We need to accept the reality that sexist rhetoric can and often does lead to violence and sexual assault against women because it normalizes the attitude that we are objects. Let’s call this rhetoric “sexist slurs” because, at the end of the day, it is both hateful and founded in ignorance and a grasp for power that a certain class of people simply do not deserve.


by Rebecca Bellan

That time I was just another tourist where they filmed Game of Thrones

Photo of Lovrijenac Fortress, Dubrovnik, Croatia with blue and cloudy sky

I look around, and I barely see what I came here to see. Instead, I see unimpressed and pasty old white people straight off an expensive cruise, coupled up like they’re on a buddy system.

Source: That time I was just another tourist where they filmed Game of Thrones


I JUMP OFF THE PACKED PUBLIC BUS at the Old City walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia, and the tourism hits me all at once. As I jostle for a space on the sidewalk, I’m accosted by strangers leaning over makeshift podiums, screaming gimmicks at me, their smiles plastered on insincere faces.

Hi there! Are you interested in a Game of Thrones tour? Wine and bike rides? Kayak tours? Dalmatian tours? Explore Dubrovnik by boat? Etc, etc?

How does one reply to all of this unwanted attention, this breach of private space? My New York breeding taught me to keep my head down. Don’t make eye contact. Keep walking. The tourism workers don’t seem to like that. I get called rude as I pass by. Some make passive aggressive comments.

Oh, so you’re not interested? That’s fine. Have a nice day.

I walk with the throngs of other tourists towards the city walls, but then I beeline towards a sliver of water I see beyond a bit of the old fortress. I’m searching desperately for a semblance of normalcy, to gaze out at the ocean and not at a sea of other assholes like me, toting a camera, hat, water bottle. Dressed in comfortable, quick dry clothes and ugly, easy-to-walk-in shoes. The whole ensemble that screams: I’m foreign! Take advantage of me!

There is a line to get to the wall that looks out at the ocean. I stand on my tiptoes to see that people are lining up to take a shot with one of the ultimate King’s Landing views. I don’t actually know what I’m looking at. A later Google search tells me that it’s the Pile Gate and the Fort Lovrijenac. Tourists are hastily snapping selfies and posing before someone obliviously steps in front of their shot. I push my way in to take a cheeky pano of the scene before I am pushed away by others eager to do the same.

I walk away from this disturbed ocean view to see what the fuss is about inside the city walls. Each movement is held up by the need to say “Excuse me” to more strangers as I awkwardly stroll-duck through their pictures. I look at them as I pass, the fascination of Dubrovnik’s fortress completely lost to me in my horror at what tourists like me have done to its assumed charm. Some posers pose excitedly, some look away nonchalantly — perfect for Insta. Some stand there grudgingly, looking truly over the experience of proving that they went somewhere by standing in front of it and every other person just like them. I feel their pain.

What the fuck am I even doing here? You hear the name ‘Dubrovnik’ on the Balkan backpacking trail often enough. It’s the next stop after Kotor, Montenegro. You Google image the city, get a feel for it. You think it looks cool. Incredible, really. You need to see it for yourself. Some people warn you that it’s touristy. A few backpackers at your last hostel or at a bar in Skopje tell you something along the lines of: When I was there a few years ago, Dubrovnik was just a small, cute town. Game of Thrones ruined it. And, it’s pricey. But worth a look.

I knew all this, yet here I am with the others. We, the tourists, flock in heinous amounts like pseudo-traveller drones. I wonder if anyone here even knows anything about Dubrovnik or Croatia? I realize that my own knowledge is slim. I’ve been moving around so much, jumping from place to place, that I keep catching myself in a new city without even knowing what the currency exchange is or how to say “thank you.” The Old City is amazing, architecturally speaking, but what am I even looking at? What am I snapping photos of? I feel as though I had better take a picture of the stately structures elevated around me because a photo will last longer than my meager impressions of this city on display, bared to appease the demands of the Almighty Tourist.

I could be anywhere in the world right now. I look around, and I barely see what I came here to see. Instead, I see unimpressed and pasty old white people straight off an expensive cruise, coupled up like they’re on a buddy system. I see Asian tourists with masks on, and loud, overweight American families toting frozen beverages. I see other backpackers like me, staring upward and eating ice cream. A lot of people are eating ice cream. The only locals I see are the ones who serve the ice cream.

I’m overstimulated. I stop at a cafe for an espresso. You know a place is touristy if you can pay with a credit card, at least in this corner of the world. Extra points if all the signs are in English, and if the menu is in six different languages.

I take my time using the cafe’s wifi. I’m scouring Wikipedia for historical context about Dubrovnik. It’s a Croatian city on the Adriatic in the Dalmatian region. UNESCO World Heritage Site. Maritime trade increased the prosperity of the city. City walls constructed from 12th to 17th centuries. Never been breached. The Republic of Ragusa existed from 1358 to 1808 and was a commercial hub that acted independently, despite being a vassal of the Ottoman Empire. The people mainly spoke Latin. Their motto was “Liberty is not well sold for all the gold.”


I pay my bill and move along, searching for a route to the holes in the wall. Someone told me you can jump into the water from there. I didn’t bring my suit. In my quest, I find a slightly more quiet part of town, so I sit on one of the old fortress walls and try to look out for a sign of these holes. The stone is hot from the sun, and I pull my hat down over my eyes for a bit of extra shade as I look out at the bay. I think this view may have been in Game of Thrones, too, but I can’t remember. The sound of water gently lapping against the sand and the tranquility of the small fishing boats, so neatly lined up before the small beach, calm my senses and help me think about why I even travel. Man, this city is starting to break me.

Ok, why do I travel?

I travel because I get to have genuine experiences every day. I get to be free, to roam as I please. That’s why I like to stay a bit off the beaten track. If my experiences aren’t genuine, then what am I doing traveling? It’s more about what I’m not doing. Like not working, not making commitments. As I ponder my existential crisis, I wonder how all of the people touching and sitting on this ancient stone is affecting its longevity.

I walk back into the main strip of the Old Town, the Placa, to get my bearings again as I continue my search. As I look around, I get the sense that I’m at the Eiffel Tower combined with Six Flags on a Saturday in the summer. Some place that would warrant and forgive an influx of tourism to this magnitude. Only I’m meant to be in a city still. But it’s an “old city” so every stone is a monument, every alley is art.

Armed with my Olympus, I snap photos with a grudge. I think I’m getting closer to the hole in the wall. I’m walking around that bay that I had looked out at earlier, contemplating my traveling woes. The smell of the sea is comforting, and the Adriatic is a sapphire. I walk close enough to the edge for my feet to feel the spray and occasional crash of salty water. Three local fishermen sit together on a bench, a beer in each one’s hand. The smell of fish emanates from their direction. They look dirty and weathered compared to their fresh tourist counterparts, but not because they’ve been working. They look exhausted from watching all of us walk past all day. What must they think of us? They look at me as I walk by, seemingly ready to make a cheeky comment that reinforces their sense of manhood. I stop in front of them and ask to take their picture. Two of them smile accordingly. One covers his face with his hands. I take the photo anyway and look at the picture on my camera screen to make sure no tourist walked into my shot.

Fishermen on bench in Dubrovnik

Almost every photo is ruined by the tourist, so I start taking photos of the tourists. One point for an awkward solo photo. Two points for a photo of a tourist petting a stray cat. Three points for a photo of a tourist taking a photo of a stray cat.

Tourist taking a photo of a stray cat in Dubrovnik, Croatia

This entertains me until I reach the holes in the wall. I walk through some quiet back alleys where laundry hangs between the buildings, and this visual gives me hope. I don’t know if I’ve actually made it to the alleged “holes”, but there is access to the sea, and surprisingly few have stripped off their clothes to jump in. I figure, why not? I’m here. Better than taking photos of tourists. I take off my quick dry clothes, my cheap sunglasses, my baseball cap that says ‘Godzilla.’ I put down my chunky camera, cover it with my clothes, and jump in. The water is fresh, salty enough to restore me. Suddenly, I’m a traveler again, living in the moment, going with the flow. I smile at the child who has jumped in after me, at the couple who share a wet kiss as they tread water next to me. Because at the end of the day, the essence of traveling is realized in small moments, like when you look up at the sky as you float on your back and realize how lucky you are to be bobbing away on this particular body of water.

Hole in the wall Dubrovnik, Croatia

by Rebecca Bellan

6 issues millennials need to be looking out for this election

“Many millennials aren’t earning salaried or union jobs and are instead scraping by with contracted or freelance work, along with a second job in hospitality or retail to make ends meet.”

Source: 6 issues millennials need to be looking out for this election

1. The importance of urban policy

Most presidential candidates have avoided or skimmed over the topic of urban policy and housing, despite our ever-growing urban populations. Our cities aren’t just hubs of earning and wealth dispersal amongst and between classes, they’re the lifeblood of our banking system. Real estate is the largest asset category in the United States and the center of the greatest market crash since the Great Depression. We are in the midst of a rental housing crisis, where the rents are rising faster than inflation, leaving people in the lurch for affordable housing and mortgage lenders hesitant to finance anyone looking for a loan.

Our next president should be making policies that support a beneficial transition of our cities. U.S. cities should be shifting toward becoming pivotal spaces for innovation, creativity and togetherness — not just places for certain people to grow richer. We need to do things like invest in better infrastructure and public transit, tackle poverty, and create more affordable and diversified housing.

Bernie and Hillary both seem to see rebuilding America’s infrastructure as a great way to create jobs and improve on roads, bridges and transit, both local and national. However, they’ve both stopped short of getting into the nitty-gritty of urban policy and the housing crisis. Maybe they, and the Republican candidates, see urban policy as too small-time for their national agendas. If that’s the case, they all need a wake-up call from their millennial voters who mainly live in urban societies and are affected by unsustainable and unaffordable housing, poor public transit options, low-wage jobs and other city-stemmed issues.

2. The fact that racism still exists

As much as we might like to think that we do, we don’t live in a post-racial society. The Guardian released a study that showed that young black men were nine out of 10 times more likely to be killed by police in America during 2015. The study tallied a total of 1,134 deaths by police brutality last year. The challenge moving forward will be in finding a candidate who is serious about creating solutions that don’t allow the use of lethal force by police to go on without scrutiny. The present policy measures are insufficient and this unjust structure must be called into question, according to one opinion piece by the Roosevelt Institute.

“…we must show Millennials — the leaders of today and tomorrow — that racism still exists so that they can press on ever more firmly toward extinction.”

Clinton, during the January 17 debate, took a notable stand against racial disparity in policing and acknowledged that much of the nation sees the lives of young African American men as worthless. “Sadly, it’s a reality,” she said. “There needs to be a concerted effort to address the systemic racism in our criminal justice system. And that requires a very clear agenda for retraining police officers, looking at ways to end racial profiling, finding more ways to really bring the disparities that stalk our country into high relief.”

Sanders has been publicly outraged by police brutality and racial profiling from the start of his campaign. He gained popularity among the black community after his interview and discussion with rapper Killer Mike. Sanders believes that the US Department of Justice should do a thorough investigation anytime someone dies in police custody.

Marco Rubio has said little to nothing on changing policies so as to ensure that police brutality is not tolerated at all in our country. Instead, he has defended the vast majority of police officers who are not to be blamed for these “rare” incidences of violence against local communities. There’s no point asking what Trump or Cruz would have to say about this as they both, based on their past statements, seem to be rampant bigots — especially against Muslims and illegal immigrants.

3. Education standards in the United States

Many candidates are busy in discussion about makinghigher education more affordable, or even free, and allowing post-grads to refinance their loans and start a new income-based payment plan. While we millennials are ever grateful (but mostly hopeful that our next president will just magically erase our loans), the candidates seem to be largely ignoring or bypassing discussion of K-12 education.

The U.S. ranks 14th globally in education, 24th in literacy and 2nd in ignorance. Our educational statistics should reflect our status as a world leader. Maybe our numbers leave something to be desired because according to amonthly Gallup poll, only 3 percent of Americans believe education to be our nation’s most important problem. Net economic problems cover 27 percent of Americans’ fears. We need to realize, as a nation, that there will never be an economic change if we don’t put in the time and effort to correctly educate the generation that will be heading any potential future change. We’re talking less standardized tests that don’t prove much about a child’s intelligence, and more class subjects that will prepare children for life outside of education and life in the global arena.

Candidates aren’t talking about it because we aren’t talking about it. Part of the reason our global educational statistics are so low is due to our varied and out-of-date curriculums. We’ve got Bible Belt school boards voting in favor of students learning creationism over evolutionism. How are our children meant to grow into rational and logical humans that can lead the United States, if there continues to be no enforcement of the principle that we are a country with a separation of church from state?

Nearly each Republican candidate, from Jeb Bush to Chris Christie seem to refuse to discuss evolutionism or how old the Earth is, and instead say that they believe that it should be up to the school to decide how many varying “theories” or “viewpoints” to incorporate into their curriculum. Bush went so far as to say that his education plan would give more power back to the “states, local school districts and parents.” Right, because taking funding out of the Federal Department of Education and putting it into individual states wouldn’t divide our country further.

The curriculum is only part of the battle. How are students meant to find a love of learning when there is an overwhelming number of under-qualified teaching staff? There needs to be more incentive to become a teacher, as well, so that we have truly influential teachers shaping the next generation’s minds. Currently theaverage teacher salary is around $56,000. We need a candidate who believes in placing a higher value on education.

4. Who does the government really work for?

“We the people of the United States…” don’t really seem to have much of a say when it comes to prosecution of criminal misconduct. According to a statistical analysis on the Federal Prison population, nearly three-fourths of the population are non-violent drug offenders, yet corporate criminals are constantly escaping justice for their actions. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren cited many examples of corporations evading meaningful prosecution for their crimes in her New York Times opinion piece. Novartis, for example, is a major drug company that paid pharmacies to push certain drugs that ended up costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Warren said that the government has full authority to dismantle companies that defraud Medicare and Medicaid. Novartis was sentenced with paying a fine so small that the CEO sort of shrugged when considering if they’d change their ethical behavior.

“The failure to adequately punish big corporations or their executives when they break the law undermines the foundations of this great country,” said Warren.

The legislation is in place, but deregulation is the main problem here. This, combined with consolidation of wealth, will lead us into the same traps we fell into during the 2009 financial crash. Think of how much of that dirty corporate money could have gone to other enterprises, like tertiary education and health care. The president nominates government division heads who enforce the laws. Nobody is above the law. For millennials, it’s a matter of choosing a candidate who we think won’t align themselves with Wall Street and other corporate giants, and instead work to enforce our laws.

It is more or less common knowledge that Sanders is for breaking up big banks and reforming Wall Street, and that Clinton wants to appoint more regulators, prosecute individuals and firms and ensure that no wealth is too complex to manage.

5. Income inequality and middle class labor economics

While we’re on the subject of economics, let’s talk about the disparity in wealth distribution in our country — where the “middle class,” or lack thereof, is barely distinguishable from the poor. And the richest 1 percent (there are those words again) has 40 percent of all of America’s wealth. The bottom 80 percent only has 7 percent of the wealth. This is because the uber rich and the big corporations aren’t paying taxes like they should be, so there isn’t enough funding for nearly any type of system that might alleviate these inequalities. Maybe you’ve heard these statistics before, but for the next election, we cannot allow this issue to fizzle out like it did after the Occupy Wall Street movement became more or less extinguished. We should be watching out for a candidate that expresses in earnest his or her plan to reform the tax code so we can break this cycle and spread the wealth a bit.

There is no longer a middle class in America, which is a huge problem for millennials, especially those just coming out of college and looking for a job. Declining union coverage is leading to a third of the disappearance of middle class workers from the workforce, according to a report by the Center for American Progress. Many millennials aren’t earning salaried or union jobs and are instead scraping by with contracted or freelance work, along with a second job in hospitality or retail to make ends meet. This means that we aren’t entitled to any healthcare, extra benefits, or even job security that the past few generations before us have had. We aren’t enjoying our 20s because we are working through them, just to survive and pay off our student loans.

Sanders, a self-proclaimed Socialist, is well known for his fight against this income inequality. On February 9, he even tweeted, “In our rigged economic system, almost all of the new income and wealth are going to the top one percent” and “We need trade policies that work for the working families of our nation and not just the CEOs of large, multi-national corporations.” Clinton also seesincome inequality as a drag on our economy and proposes things like tightening the tax code so “millionaires don’t pay lower tax rates than their secretaries” and raising the minimum wage. She stops short of saying just how high she’d raise the minimum wage, where Sanders has been pushing for a whopping $15 an hour.

6. Falling into “Kardashian politics”

As millennials, we have the unfortunate tendency toward a behavior that supports sassy headlines and sensationalist media — all in 140 characters or less. Millennials often think and converse in terms of social media and what is trending, but if we want a president in office who will act in our best interests — whatever you or I think those be — we need to avoid the system that propagates ignorant behavior. Following trending articles and clicking links about Donald Trump or other outrageous stories will only lead to a never-ending cycle of extremist statements. Even talking about how much you hate Trump, is cause for him to get more undeserved media attention. According to a poll conducted by Monmouth College in December 2015, only 17.5 percent of millennials favor Trump, yet he’s still constantly one of the top searches on Facebook and Twitter.

On that same token, Sanders’ political rhetoric seems to be optimistically filled with hope and anti-capitalism. He is our left-wing buzzword enthusiast, not far off from Trump blatantly stating, “9-11” when questioned about his desire to keep Muslims out of America. Liberal voters need to be wary that Sanders may not be the magician he claims to be. Obama hooked voters with his own rhetoric of hope and change, yet found himself going back on nearly every policy that he included in his election campaign. Voters give Clinton slack for rattling off lists of priorities were she to become president, whileSanders’ message is clear: “So long as big money interests control the United States Congress, it is gonna be very hard to do what has to be done for working families,” he said at the February 6 Democratic Debate. While Sanders’ message may give you chills, will it give you results? Whoever we decide to vote for, we need to make sure that vote has been based on more than just Facebook shares and buzzwords.

6 American habits I lost in Madrid

tapas of chorizo with jarra of red sangria in Madrid, Spain

“Like many Americans, I was accustomed to going home when the bars close at 2am. This, however, is the hour that partygoers in Madrid turn up.”

Source: 6 American habits I lost in Madrid

1. I stopped counting the minutes.

Even though Madrid is far from the coast, the Madrileños live an easy Mediterranean lifestyle.

My first impulse was to use these free siesta hours to run errands. I was immediately frustrated to find nunca de las tiendas open. I couldn’t buy a piece of fruit or get a haircut to save my life. All of a sudden, between 2 and 5, I was living in a ghost town. I had to realize that Madrid isn’t like America — where the consumer is catered to at nearly every hour. Madrileños like to take the time to enjoy their lives, and soon I was doing the same.

Instead of getting things done, I’d have a caña or even a jarra of Mahou or Estrella with my long lunch. I’d sit outside that 100 Montaditos in Gran Vía and watch tourists and prostitutes bustle around the shops. I’d walk along the Manzanares River with a pan de chocolate fresh from the pastelería. Or, if I was out dancing at Kapital the night before, I’d just lay down and close my eyes on the sofa. The office wasn’t going anywhere. Que será, será.

2. My stomach’s internal clock got a new schedule.

A typical American might have breakfast around 8 am, lunch around 12 and dinner around 6. It took my stomach a long time to get over this routine, for while I still had breakfast at the same time, lunch didn’t happen until 3 or 4, and dinner was never served until at least 9 or 10. This was an even bigger culture shock than the language.

My confusion deepened when my host mom fed me chocolate chip cookies with my coffee for breakfast, un desayuno dulce, and omelettes, or tortillas, for dinner.

Once I got a handle on my stomach’s desires, I realized that the wait for a late lunch is well worth it. Comida is the biggest meal of the day, and I loved that nobody judged me for washing it down with a glass or two of vino tinto. In fact, restaurants encourage a little mid day drink to go along with your relaxed lunch.

And it was never hard to find a place to eat. All I had to do was walk around the thin, grey-brick laid streets of Sol or Cortes to find a plethora of cafes offering up a Menú del Día. Each pre-fixe menu included a first course, second course, postre and a drink for the low price of 9 euro. I enjoyed starting off with a paella de la casa or gazpacho Andalúz, then feasting on bacalao al horno or albóndigas en salsa. Oh, and the pan! Spaniards rarely sit through a meal without a basket of crusty white bread.

3. I no longer turnt down at 2am.

Ernest Hemingway writes in Death in the Afternoon that “to go to bed at night in Madrid marks you as a little queer…Nobody goes to bed in Madrid until they have killed the night.”

Like many Americans, I was accustomed to going home when the bars close at 2am. This, however, is the hour that partygoers in Madrid turn up. The clubs in this party city stay bumping until the metro reopens at 6 am. To assimilate into this most serious of nightlifes, I had to learn to take my time and pace myself.

My favorite form of pacing was a tapear, to go out for tapas. You play the game by eating a little of the free swag that comes with your drink, and then drinking your drink in turn. Sip, bite. Bite, sip. By doing this, I was able to remain in a constant state of tipsy until I made it to the club of my choice (Often Joy Eslava, sometimes MoonDance).

Aside from gallivanting in the neighborhood La Latina and on Calle Cava Baja for the best tapas bars, I frequented El Mercado de San Miguel for a classy, one-stop shop for all the small plates I could eat. Where Americans have perfected the art of binge drinking via shots, funneling beers and keg stands, the Spaniards are slightly more sophisticated drinkers who see a night out on the town as a marathon, not a sprint.

4. Entertaining at home became somewhat taboo.

Even in the dead of winter, Madrileños socialize outside the house. Back home, it’s perfectly normal to have friends over for dinner or a party. But in Madrid, they consider staying in to be a sign of economic hardship, of succumbing to la crisis. If there was ever a weekend night that I didn’t go out, my host mom would immediately ask, “¿Qué pasa? ¿Estás enferma?

No one is expected to spend money when they go out. They’re just expected to leave the house and meet up with friends or family, often in public squares like Tribunal, Alonso Martínez or Puerta del Sol. It wasn’t so bad, especially when I had a bottle to share with my buddies and when vendors were selling cans of Mahou beer for 1 euro. While street drinking, referred to colloquially as botellón, is considered illegal, the law is rarely enforced as this activity is as popular a pregame in Madrid as tailgating is in America.

And in case you haven’t picked up on this point yet, Madrileños like to spend time outside late at night, and I’m not just talking about the party animals. I remember being shocked at first to see young children roaming the streets with their parents and giggling at street performers in Plaza Mayor or on Calle Montera at 11 at night. Shouldn’t they be in bed? Why are their parents exposing them to the debauchery of Madrid nightlife? Oh my god, do you think that kid knows that he’s playing right next to a gaggle of prostitutes?

And me, double fisting a bottle of ginevra and Fanta Limón by the fountain, wondering if I should hide my street drinking for their sake. Understandably, due to the brutally hot Madrid summers, nights are the best time to be outside. Presumably, everyone is well rested from their siesta already. But give these social butterflies a terraza on which to drink a cocktail and smoke cigarillos any day of the year, and they will be truly happy.

5. I stopped shaking hands and arriving early.

This is the land where you might grasp a new friend’s hand only to pull them close to you and plant a kiss on each cheek, first the right, then the left. Instead of saying, “Nice to meet you,” or “Mucho gusto,” the elegant Spaniards would say, “Encantada” or “Enchanted.” I loved it, and still say it when I meet new Spanish-speakers, which leaves people wondering if I’m from Argentina because my accent is half proper Castellano and half standard Latin American. I also learned that, even though Spaniards aren’t very punctual people, they see arriving late as just as big an insult as arriving early. I made it a point to arrive exactly on time for things like interviews or meetings.

Before my first interview for an internship at a local magazine, I arrived early and waited nervously outside the building for my 11am meeting. At 10:57, I began to make my way into the office, all the while checking my watch to make sure I was arriving exactly on time. Within seconds of opening the door to the office, my interviewer walked toward me with open arms, clearly gearing up for that still somewhat awkward cheek kiss. No handshakes in this oficina, just some warm Spanish amor.

6. I learned that sleeping in on a Sunday was a waste of time.

El Rastro, Madrid’s famous open-air flea market in La Latina, happens only on Sundays. It begins in the Plaza de Cascorro near the La Latina metro station and follows the declining street of La Ribera de Curtidores, branching out into the side streets, until its end at Ronda de Toledo. The entire neighborhood is packed to near bursting with vendors selling everything from Spanish flag underwear and artisan jewelry, to colorful scarves and Indian tapestries, to clay sangria pitchers and your basic nuts and bolts. Literally, anything I needed, didn’t need, or maybe would need in the future (except fresh produce) for home, leisure or comfort, I found at el Rastro and haggled over the price.

Sure, I didn’t need to go shopping every Domingo, but going to el Rastro was a social affair, and it was a great way to start my Sundays in Madrid, which were usually anything but lazy. Even if I stayed up all night partying, I’d still make an effort to be up early enough to make it to el Rastro, which opened at 8 and started to close at 1 — even though it’s meant to stay open until 3.

There was no better cure for my hangovers than chugging a café con leche and meandering through the many, many stalls at the market. And it wasn’t like I couldn’t go back to sleep after shopping — that’s what siestas are for. 

19 things Bostonians always have to explain to out-of-towners

“A liquor store is a “packie,” “jimmies” are sprinkles, a “spa” is a deli, “frappes” are milkshakes and it’s a “rotary” not a roundabout. Got it?”

Source: 19 things Bostonians always have to explain to out-of-towners

1. Yeah, that’s just a Colonial guy in breeches and spatterdashes. Ignore him.

They re-enact the Boston Tea Party, or something. It’s a tourist thing to do. Like Duck Tours and whale watching.

2. Our gods are The Sox, The Pats, the Bruins and the Celtics.

You must never blaspheme the gods in front of a Boston native. Praise the demi-gods Tom Brady, Robert Paxton Gronkowski aka “Gronk” and David Ortiz aka “Big Papi.”

3. A liquor store is a ‘packie,’ ‘jimmies’ are sprinkles, a ‘spa’ is a deli, ‘frappes’ are milkshakes and it’s a ‘rotary’ not a roundabout. Got it?

After I run this packie, I’ll take the second exit off the rotary to get a frappe with jimmies at Town Spa.

4. We nevah pronounce ouwah ah’s. (Translation: We never pronounce our R’s)

You’ve probably heard the famous phrase before. All tourists have fun with it. Let’s say it together, shall we? Pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd. Not so hard, right? Don’t say it to a local.

5. Good luck parking your car in Harvard Yard, or anywhere for that matter.

Meter maids are on the prowl, all the time. You parked at 5:59 when the meter expires at 6? $25 to the City of Boston. If you drove in, leave your car at the hotel and take the T. Definitely don’t try to drive in if you’re attempting to go to a Red Sox game. You will not succeed in finding parking, unless you have a large disposable income.

6. Yes, the Fens and Revere Beach have nice scenic views, but you better beware of needles.

Massachusetts has a serious opiate addiction problem. It’s very sad. Also beware the junkies; you’ll know them when you see them, and you will see them.

7. If we dig out a space on the street for our car, you can’t legally park there.

Of course, we may have to mark our territory with some chairs or trash cans or a 36-pack of Natty Lite.

8. ‘Dunks’ is slang for Dunkin Donuts, and it is the elixir of life.

Munchkins from Dunks are a perfect treat to bring to work, a party, a museum event, a tailgate, your cousin’s wake, etc. Boston runs on Dunkin.

9. The T is our subway, metro, whatever.

It generally stand for ‘transit’ or ‘transportation’ and is part of the larger MBTA, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. It’s not very fast, especially on the Green Line that runs through universities like Boston University, Northeastern, Boston College, etc. But remember, patience is a virtue.

10. Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ is our anthem.

And our anthem. It’s played at every game, at the bottom of the eighth inning. It’s also not uncommon for a drunk guy, or kid (pronounced “khed,” though not actually a drunk child), to start up a chant on the T and get the whole car, including the driver, happily singing along.

11. “’Yankees Suck’ is our other anthem.

And it’s chanted at every sporting event. We’re confident that Jesus hates the Yankees, too.

12. Timberland boots are acceptable footwear no matter the season.

Also, “nice” cargo shorts are acceptable formal attire.

13. Every winter, we inform everyone that we’re moving south.

But we don’t. And every summer, we stick around to enjoy Martha’s Vineyard and “The Cape” aka Cape Cod.

14. We use ‘wicked’ as an adverb, both ironically and seriously.

Went to Kelly’s Roast Beef last night and got some chicken fingahs. It was wicked pissah.

15. In addition to Kelly’s Roast Beef for late-night bites, Santarpio’s Pizza in East Boston (Eastie) and Union Oyster House in Government Center are our Boston go-tos.

Don’t forget the D’Angelo’s chain for a variety of hot and cold subs. Yes, subs. Not heroes, not grinders, not even sandwiches.

16. Only we can pronounce our towns correctly.

Gloucester. Worcester. Cochituate. Leominster. Leicester. Haverhill. Spoiler alert! Nothing is pronounced phonetically.

17. Anyone from Mass is going to tell you that these towns are all ‘half an hour away and two towns over.’

We aren’t always lying. Unless the town is in Western Mass. Might as well be its own state, the Yankee lovers.

18. Yes, we are aggressive drivers. But we don’t care if you call us a ‘Mass-hole.’

Mass-holes drive fast, recklessly and cut other drivers off with wanton abandon, so much so that MassDOT, the Department of Transportation, has put signs on the highway that say “USE YAH BLINKAH.”

19. And our pedestrians are not much nicer.

So don’t say hi to strangers on the street. It’s creepy and may get you beat up. Mass-holes love a good fight.