A Shopper’s Introduction — De Compras in Madrid

“Who does she think she is to be starting a fashion blog?” Ayyy, my dear readers, I can hear what you are thinking. By no means, I don’t consider myself a fashion role model, neither do I consider another woman as one. True, I worship Victoria Beckham, but as much as I admire her, I […]

via A Shopper’s Introduction — De Compras in Madrid

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Idea for New Blog: ¨De Compras: Madrid’s Shopping Guide”

This blog was created with the purpose of… Umm… I’m still not really sure. While I wanted to talk about my travels, I ended up documenting my feelings and emotions more than anything, and I have been doing this the most while I wasn’t having the time of my life. Most of the time, I expose my insecurities and personal stories that I should have kept to myself. Consequently, it is best to have readers who don’t know me personally…but that’s about to change.

I want to create another blog with a clear purpose. What am I most passionate about? SHOPPING. I feel like I could give readers some insights about shopping in Spain (specifically, Madrid).

I will be copying the post from my new blog to post it on here as well 🙂 Below is a very rough draft of potential posts. Can’t wait to start on this project.

~Brisa

 

Part I – Stores to Die For

Part II- Products to Live By

Part III – Shopping Zones

Part IV – Cosmetics

Part V – Rebajas (Clearance Seasons)

Part VI – Fall/Winter Essentials

Part VII – Summer Basics

Part VIII – Ojo! Return Policies

Part IX – Shoes! Walk like a Madridleña

Part X: – My Store, Mango

Part XI: My Fav Store, Mary Paz

Part XII: My Fav Store, Primor

Part XIII: My Fav Store, Stradivarius

Part XIV: My Fav Store, Women’s Secret

Part XV: My Fav Store, Calzedonia

Part XVI: Spotlight on Bershka

Part XVII: Spotlight on Zara

Part XVIII: Spotlight on Pull & Bear

Part XIX: Spotlight on Intropia

Part XX: All About Inditex

Part XI: Spotlight on Massimo Dutti

Part XII: Decathlon vs. Decimas

Part XII: Groceries Shoppin’

Part XIII: Lingery

Nightmare When I Wake Up

5:43 AM:

I turned on the computer with an immediate urge to open Facebook despite the fact that that isn’t the reason why I woke up this darn early.

…Right after I typed that sentence, I did go to Facebook – not due to my social media addiction but I remembered that I had to send a message because some one was concern about my safety.

Why? Hurricane Irma.

The entire state saw an impact from the storm. People were panicking like never before, especially before the storm’s arrival. The stores’ shelves were practically empty and gas stations had long lines for hours. Last time I checked on Friday (before the store came on Sunday), 40 percent of gas was gone in my town. It was apocalyptic – and it brings the worst out of people.

At times like these, you’d expect to see compassion of good Samaritans offering help or at least a mutual understanding. Instead, people were hoarding whatever food and water they could get their hands on at an necessary amount. No one had patience on the road, especially those blocking traffic in a line at a gas station. Even worse yet, looters were out there breaking into closed stores…to steal SHOES. While power was out in many places, the security camera was working just fine and there were bystanders recording their deplorable actions, so, of course, they were arrested.

All of this was going on during my 3-day lock-down. Fortunately, I was safe from harm and even had water and electricity for pretty much the whole time (except when the power went out around 3 o’clock on Saturday but it immediately came back on). Needless to say I had plenty of time to spend on Netflix, Youtube, snacking, job applications, and self-reflecting.

School has started in Spain and this year, I am not returning (thanks to the Spanish law that puts a 2-year limit on the program). As each day goes by, I am missing my old life in Madrid more and more – which is the opposite of what I was expecting.

So I woke up early…from a good dream. I was still in Spain and planning to take my mom and grandma to Granada. I was texting my girl friend to go out dancing on a Friday night. I was going for an evening stroll in Madrid. I was going to do so many great things.

In the dream, my aunt was there telling me that I had it all: I was young, beautiful, had a job and money to do as I wish and go wherever I want – which was easy to do so in Europe.

I feel like she was just a conscious part of me that had been silent about what she said but had been thinking so the whole time. And I am left more confused than ever. What do I really want in life.

I turned down an offer to work at a local embassy in Madrid (due to paperwork complications and me trying to prove a point that hell, I can leave Madrid and travel throughout Latin America – which is easier to do from Florida). I wanted to come back and find a more stable job of something that I wanted to do. Although I am passionate about education, I don’t see myself as an English teacher for the rest of my life. And yes, I wanted to work in foreign affairs – but really? Had I not been brainwashed by my own mother about how great this career would be with its benefits? Do I really wanted that path?

And so here I am – back into the squalid square known as a bedroom that is too big for its purpose.

I imagined 5 years of what I called a “solid” life: stable job, good pay with paid vacations, comfy apartment, decent neighborhood in the sunny South Florida – somewhere close to the water. But it seems like Hurricane Irma has blown this illusion away.

Instead, I am back living with my mom and returning to my part-time job that I despise. I felt like I had cut my own wings and fell down the heaven.

I’m stuck. For now.

~Brisa

 

 

 

 

 

 

La tormenta

Sigo buscando trabajo mientras el hurracán Irma está llegando para acá…

Como ya le dije, había una entrevista hace poco pero al final no me lo cogio. Al vez es mejor aqui porque si me haya elegido, habría evacuado de mi nueva casa en el sur de Florida.

Por eso, sigo aquí en esta ciudad pequeña de mierda dependiendo de mi madre. Volví a trabajar en el mall y cada día me odio por eso pero hay que hacerlo.

De momento estoy bien enfadada, no porque la madre me hizo recordar que debo ayudarla más y ser agradecida porque me está apoyando, sino porque me siento inútil. Se me he perdido mi libertad y inpendencia que tenía cuando vivía sola en Madrid. Me he cortado mis propios alas y se me he caído del cielo.

Esta noche mejor no dormir. Tengo que encontrar trabajo y marcharme lejo de aquí.

La tormenta en mi cabeza da más rabia que la Irma esa. Parece que no va a pasar pronto.

~Brisa

36 Fun Interview Questions

can-stock-photo_csp5593530

Two weeks ago, I had a phone interview for a Study Abroad Advisor position. I could not be more excited to be selected to go on to the next round: a face-to-face interview.

The interviewers had already asked the basic questions: ¨how do you see yourself in 5 years¨, ¨describe a previous challenge you had and how you dealt with it¨, ¨what types of clients you have worked with¨, ¨describe your biggest accomplishment¨, etc. So what is next?

I suppose the next round will be if I was a good fit for the university – with regards to working style, vision, and ethics…

OR they would like to get to know me better as a person, like whether or not I would be a decent and likable co-worker. If that was the case, they may throw some unexpected questions at me (like, describe yourself with 3 adjectives. Hello, I´ve already prepared the answer and they were pleasantly surprised that I was able to come up with the 3 words so quickly).

So I found a quirky list of interview questions from Fastonomy that I will answer quickly right after I finish reading the questions. The responses below are my initial and immediate answers…which I will have to revise later but let´s see how this goes. 3…2…1…VA!

  • Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer? (Glassdoor)

I am more of a gatherer. I like to observe my surrounding resources first and analyze their usefulness as well as how much effort and energy are required to obtain them. If I see that there is not enough to gather, then I will become a hunter.

  • You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why? (Glassdoor)

I would be the color purple. It´s not one of the primary colors, but rather a combination of the hot red and cold blue, meaning that it has complexity and flexibility to be both warm and empowering but also cool and soothing.

  • We finish the interview and you step outside the office and find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do? (Quora)

It depends on how I ¨found¨ the ticket. Normally, I don´t buy lottery because I prefer using the money that I earn from my hard work. If I find a ticket, I would not even touch it. However, for the purpose answering the question about budgeting, I will definitely put it into my savings´ account first before sitting down and making a list of things that I would like to spend immediately. I would probably move $10,000 into my checking´s account and make a 3,000-donation towards the Scholarship Program that sent me to college. As for the remaining 7,000, I will save it for my travels in the near future to Puerto Rico, Colombia, Brazil, and Thailand. If I was hired, I would come to work like I had never won the lottery.

  • What do you think about when you’re alone in your car? (Glassdoor)

I think about the places and the people that the songs (from my CD) remind me about, while keeping an eye out for the speed limit signs and constantly checking my rear view mirrors to make sure that I maintain a good distance between the car behind me.

  • What’s your favorite ’90s jam? (Glassdoor)

(I actually had to Google this one…All that came to mind was Britney Spear´s ¨Hit Me Baby One More Time¨ and the Backstreet Boys…But keep in mind that I was born in 1994 , so I was too young to enjoy all the fun. Not sure if I should mention this.)

As Long As You Love Me, by Backstreet Boys. It is such a feel-good song.

  • If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you be and why? (Quora)

A feral cat that lives by the sea! Cats are such elegant and calculating animals with a never-ending curiosity. They are independent yet affectionate to those worthy of their trust.

  • What was the last gift you gave someone? (Glassdoor)

For Thai Mother´s Day, I gave my mom gift cards to Banana Republic and Loft, which are her two favorite stores. It´s not much, but it the thoughts that count! I hope it will help her buy something that she likes that isn´t on clearance yet.

  • What were you like in high school? (Quora)

In class, I was very serious and focused. I paid attention to the lesson 100% and liked to take notes. I was often the last one to turn in the exams because I liked to use all of the time given to check my answers. If there were extra credit opportunities, I would take them even though my grades were already 100. I also wanted to be a well-rounded student, so I volunteered and became the Student Government President. However, with my friends, I either liked to joke around or have deep conversations, mostly about the future.

  • What’s the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it? (FlexJobs)

I don´t have a TV, but the last thing I watched was an old episode of Narcos on Netflix. I watched it to remind myself how much I loved the show to prep myself for the next season, which will come out on September 1st. I loved this show because it was loosely based on true events and was shot in Colombia, where I would love to go next. I also get to practice listening to Colombian Spanish.

  • Any advice for your previous boss? (Quora)

(Shoot, this one is making me think a bit because I don´t want to sound too smooch-y or too harsh. Hmmm.) I would advise her to distribute the hours more evenly among the sales associates, so that no one would end up with a shift that is 9 hours long while her co-worker only gets 4 hours. It is a labor-intensive job that requires one to be on her feet all day, which can be very difficult – even for someone who is in good shape.

  • Tell me something about your last job, other than money, that would have inspired you to keep working there. (Quora)

My last job was very flexible when it comes to scheduling. The managers are very understanding and empathetic, and try to accommodates the sales associates´ requests. You can tell that the company and management cares about the employees.

  • What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently? (Glassdoor)

I was working one day when an older lady came in and asked me to help look for a shirt for her granddaughter since I was about her granddaughter´s age. At the checkout, I asked her how old her granddaughter was, and she said 39!!! I am actually 23.

(Is this appropriate to say at the job interview? Or am I bringing ageism?)

  • What do you want to be when you grow up? (FlexJobs)

Like my mom, bilingual, strong, and financially independent.

  • Which two organizations outside your own do you know the most people at and why? (Quora)

(OH NOOOOOO. Tough one. If not impossible. Shit) The Erasmus students who were friends with my Puerto Rican roommates and the professional Muay Thai boxers in Madrid because they occasionally come to the same workout classes.

  • Pretend you’re our CEO. What three concerns about the firm’s future keep you up at night? (Vault)

Thinking about the upcoming big project, re-imagining leadership style, and having to lay off employees that are not a result of the employees´ actions.

  • If I were to hire you for this job and I granted you three promises with regard to working here, what would they be? (Quora)

Providing clear instructions and communications from the beginning, giving honest and constructive feed backs, and opportunities to attend professional development workshops.

  • If you don’t get this job, what’s your backup plan? (Quora)

Continue to work at my part-time job while keep applying for jobs in study abroad and international education.

  • What inspires you? (Vault)

Self development through gaining new experiences, skills, and knowledge. Being able to pursue my interests in travelling, international education, connecting people together, broaden minds, and empowering others, especially women from under privilege background.

  • Teach me something I don’t know in the next five minutes. (Quora)

I will go a great length for my hobbies! I love watching MotoGP and have been to all circuits in Spain (some twice). I have seen my favorite singer perform in Madrid, Germany, and Barcelona! If I like something, I will find the time and place for it.

  • What are you known for? (Quora)

My effort and passion for what I love.  Having the grit to achieve my academic, professional, and personal goals.

  • What do you work toward in your free time? (Quora)

My next trips! I´m always looking for flight deals and things to do in the cities that I want to visit next.

  • What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone? (Vault)

(Well, darn, this is a tough one), that I am inspired by my grandmother, who had to end her education at 4th grade because no one supported her and her family told her that education was unnecessary for girls. So I was determined to do well in school despite knowing very little English when I first moved to the US and remain committed to my own education, and hopefully others´.

  • How would you rate your memory? (Glassdoor)

7.5, which is why I remember to take notes and set reminders!

  • Code something from scratch in three hours. Then explain your design and solution. (Quora)

(???? I don´t think this question pertains to me.)

  • If you woke up and had 2,000 unread emails and could only answer 300 of them, how would you choose which ones to answer? (Glassdoor)

I would check the emails´ senders, purpose, and urgency, but with an emphasis on last two. I will answer most urgent one that I requires me to take action first. For example, a student is requesting additional health insurance information because he/she was in a foreign hospital. If the e-mail is mostly informational and does not require me to take responsive actions -even if the sender holds the highest position – I would most likely not reply. For example, I would not reply to an email about a hurricane warning from the Vice President.

  • How many pennies would fit into this room? (Vault)

(Hopefully, they won´t ask this.)

  • Can you name three consecutive days without using the words Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday? (Quora)

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday

  • Estimate how many windows are in New York. (Glassdoor)

1,000,000 windows. (Silly question.)

  • How would you value the store on the corner? (Vault)

(I don´t understand the question well… Is it asking me to give a monetary value to the store or for me to give a criteria of what makes a ¨valuable¨ store??)

  • How many square feet of pizza is eaten in the U.S. each year? (Glassdoor)

(Ok, I had no idea, so I googled the answer and found a helpful article about how to answer these interview maths´ questions).

  • Describe the color yellow to somebody who is blind. (Glassdoor)

It´s bright, like the ray of light from the sun, which is yellow itself. It is associated with warmth and happiness.

  • If you were to get rid of one state in the U.S., which would it be and why? (Glassdoor)

(I would rather get rid of the U.S. territorials)

  • You’ve been given an elephant. You can’t give it away or sell it. What would you do with the elephant? (FlexJobs)

I would have to take care of it…or hire people to help me to. To raise the funds, I would make an educational program/field trips that charge a reasonable fee and accept donations.

  • Who would win a fight between Spiderman and Batman? (Glassdoor)

Batman, he is more well-equipped and well-researched. He would have studied his enemy and plot for ways to defeat Spiderman.

  • How would you convince someone to do something they didn’t want to do? (FlexJobs)

First, I would make sure that they do not feel the need to be on guard. I would encourage them to open up and talk about themselves (as most people like to do), and find out their wants and needs, and how doing something will benefit them.

  • A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here? (Glassdoor)

¨Excuse me, would you be so kind to get me back to the South Pole??¨

Good night!

 

~Brisa

 

Redefining ¨Success¨

hannibal

¨If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same…¨

– Rudyard Kipling, ¨If¨

11:23 PM. On the floor, reading.

Finding ways to distract my mind from missing Spain and feeling like a failure during the job hunt process, I went to the library for a stroll among the bookshelves. Soon enough (like 2 minutes after walking in), I found myself walking towards the non-fiction section and stopped in the third to last row. World history. Go figured.

A bright tangerine book caught my attention right away. Titled ¨Hannibal and Me¨, this book brought me back to Cartagena (meaning ¨New Carthage¨), Spain, where my history buff side roamed free. I imagined walking on the same road as the Carthaginian General Hannibal was on his way to cross the Alps into Italy. His brilliant strategic and bold mind had shaken the Roman Empire with doubts and fear. It is easy to consider him one of the most successful generals of all time. After all, is there any military triumph more devastating that the Battle of Cannae?

Needless to say, I idolized Hannibal. His boldness, his bravery, his grit. However, after reading this book, I realized that despite his ¨successful¨ accomplishments, Hannibal failed to meet his ultimate objective: to defeat Rome. Therefore, his ¨success¨ that we repeated heard and romanticized about was actually an imposter.

This book has changed a viewpoint forever. It felt like my gleaming glass castle came crashing down. Now Hannibal no longer seemed like a distant idol, but someone relateable: a mere mortal who has accomplished some astonishing things but was also too ambitious and prone to making mistakes. A hero who failed his quest.

But the most important lesson from this book can be found in the very last paragraph. Andreas Kluth wrote:

¨Don´t agonize about success or failure. Just do what you must do as well as you possibly can. In the process you may eventually transcend triumph and disaster. That is how to meet those two imposters.¨

Powerful, right?

My getaway is that, for now, I must keep applying for the job I would be happy waking up to do while continue saving money working at my old part-time job. Just because I got an interview doesn´t mean it is a ¨success¨, while getting turned down should not be equated to ¨failure¨ either. I will find free time to do what I love: reading, learning new things, researching new travel ideas, planning possible upcoming trips, watching MotoGP, and blogging.

So it seems like a new post about my trip to Cartagena is coming soon, huh?

 

~Brisa

 

 

 

Back to the Start

1 AM. East Coast. Down South. Old Room.

Four years ago in this very same room, a naive junior just returned from her study abroad summer semester in Spain, wondering how she could make it back there again. The answer was obvious: teach English or get a master´s. Or both.

And so I went.

Last summer, I came back here again with much eagerness to return to Spain after renewing my contract, which has a 2-year limit. I was dying to go back.

And finally here I am again. Without a return plane to ticket booked to Madrid this time.

I picked up where I left off: back at the part-time job I motherfucking hate, living with Mom, sharing a car, looking for something to do in the future, doubting everything.

While battling nostalgia of Spain and searching for a full-time contract, I still also have to remain sane – which actually is the toughest part.

Since I got back, I tried to stay busy. I made a CD of my favorite songs, checked out a book, started going to salsa classes, signed up for online classes…but job searching is so tiring. After applying to 30+ jobs, I have been contacted once and had a phone interview, but they had kept me waiting – for the news… Good or bad, I don´t know.

Lately, I started getting into a lot of travelling vlogs and blogs again just like I did before leaving for Spain. Only this time, the target country is Colombia.

What I will say next is ridiculously silly – at least to a part of the logical me anyway.

Once upon a time, I was younger and more innocent. A few days of flirty exchange of messages from a boy from Medellín were enough for me to go on a date with him, and later going insane over him. The guy had a girlfriend at the time. The nerve.

But once I later (much later) realized that he became single, I approached him but with no luck. I didn´t get what I wanted,  so I searched for it from another Colombian guy. And got it. And never looked back at both of them.

Lo and behold, as luck would have it, entered another Colombian – this time from Cali. This one got me good. But of course it is not meant to be as we lead very different lives and so far apart from each other. Still, I am offended by his lack of effort and offer to stay friends. What the hell? F*ck, no.

I hadn´t reply to that ¨let´s continue to be friends¨ message as it had hurt me too much, but at least I got what I wanted for the time that I could – which is not the case with the one from Medellín.

And so I feel like I have an unfinished business with Colombia…especially Medellín.

Before you go on to think that I am planning for a holiday of sex tourism, I would like too say that damn, you´re a quick thinker.

Jokes aside, I think it´s important that I go to Colombia and meet the locals and see them as fellow human beings – not some seductive, smooth-talking creatures that will make me trip over my legs every time. For whatever reason, I think that it will broaden my mind to perhaps stop thinking something along the line of ¨Huh, his accent is beautiful, he says all the right thing, he is one sexy Colombian, I should just bang him already.¨

But knowing me, that will probably happen at least once during the trip. And that´s ok.

I want to stop being so harsh on myself with judgmental thoughts. Right now it is more important than ever to stay optimistic. Beginning tomorrow, I will wake up early, work out, shower, eat healthy, go to my part-time job with a smile, and keep blogging.

Let´s do this all over again, yeah??

I may fall, I may not get up, but I will be crawling til I can start running again.

~Brisa