Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Back from Vaughan Town

The light in Spain makes colours so lively. Here's a building in Madrid's Plaza Mayor.Look at that red!

And here, at the hotel Gredos.
Vaughan Town folks hanging out at the river.

Being from an island that is essentially a big sand dune, I don't think I will ever ceased to be impressed by rocks, especially when you have so many of them that you just pile them into a fence. This is on the road outside the hotel.

Vaughan Town was interesting in two respects. I got to meet loads of Spanish people, a nationality I've not encountered frequently. And I had hour-long conversations with people, over-and-over again. It's not too often in everyday life that you spend that long speaking with just one person. As a result, I got to know many people very well in a short period of time. And I have to mention my fellow anglophones, who I had a great time with as well.

Prior to this experience, I must admit, my stereotype of Spanish people was that they are very emotional - similar to how I imagine Italians. I also held the idea of the macho-male, as well as the gregariousness in general for Spanish people. I have only really known one Spanish person up to the point I went to Vaughan Town, and that is Victor, the chef at the Coylet. As anyone who knows Victor can attest (and if you're reading this Victor, don't worry, I love you all the same for your ranting), Victor has a tendancy to passionate expression on certain issues, that wouldn't actually contradict my stereotype.

In the course of the last week I had discussions with 14 different Spanish people learning English, plus Carmen, the program director. And not one of them was that gregarious, over-the-top stereotype. In fact, I would say that the Spaniards started off the week more reserved than any of us anglophones, and being with us brought them a bit more out of their shells. Underneath the quiet reserve were friendly, funny people.

The machoness wasn't there, although there is still more chivalry - try as I may, I could not get a Spanish man to walk through a door that I held open for him, or let me bring him a drink from the bar.

I discussed the stereotype that I had held with some of the Spanish people. It seems that they also have that impression of the Italians. They also seem to have similar stereotypes of the French to what we have in Canada. Maybe I need a week in each of those countries to prove or disprove the stereotypes - I know I've definitely met loads of friendly French people, but also some not so friendly.

My general view of stereotyping is that cultures do tend to produce a certain mentality in their subjects, but there are always exceptions. As I've often put it, every country has its arseholes. If you meet just one person from a country, you never know if you've met the exception or the rule or somewhere in between. Unfortunately, people often treat any foreigner as an example of that country, even if that person probably shouldn't be.

For interests sake, I asked the Spaniards what their stereotypes of Canadians are, but they don't seem to have any. We're the country that no one in the world really thinks about. Many of them had never spoken extensively to a Canadian before meeting myself and the other Canadian girl at Vaughan Town.

I had a really good time last week, so good I'm going back the first week of July. Now I just need to find similar free experiences in other countries...

Oh, and if you'd like to see the people I spent the week with, and the place, everyone's been putting photos up on this album, so have a gander if you so desire.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Megan!!! Thank you for your lovely words about Spaniards, I think that all, Anglos and Spaniards, had a great experience in Gredos, at Vaughan Town, and we will remember that week as a great challenge in our lifes... keep in touch, please.

Megan said...

It's easy to say nice things when you have a great group of people to comment on!