Like the song says: «This is Halloween»

It’s hard to believe that we’re already nearing the end of October! The weather may be changing (although compared to the UK, it’s still blissful), but here at ELITE we’ve settled in to our new classes and timetables – and we’re loving it! With October, of course, comes autumn and winter’s traditional holidays, and whilst Guy Fawkes (or Bonfire) Night might not have made it to Spain yet we can thank our American counterparts for turning All Hallows Eve into the huge international festival that is Halloween: I definitely didn’t expect quite so many of my pre-juniors to know words like “killer clown” and “the walking dead”! It’s always good to inject a bit of excitement into dreary autumn days, and even in the UK Halloween has been Americanised; but some of our old traditions are still going strong. In Scotland especially, I grew up with older family members asking if I would be going “guising”, rather than trick-or-treating. When guising kids still dress up but, rather than simply threatening tricks if their poor neighbours don’t give them something, they have to tell a joke or sing a song in exchange for a sweet. Another favourite party game when I was younger was “dookin’ for apples” (known as apple-bobbing in England). Involving buckets of water and a “no hands” rule, it’s tricky and pretty messy, especially with Halloween face paint on… This game stems from the old pagan traditions surrounding this day of the year, and the Druid belief that apples were sacred: there’s definitely no religious element now, but we always had fun with it! At ELITE we...

It’s not just about the language

“Move to Spain”, they said… “Constant sunshine”, they said… I just wish someone had told that to the torrential downpour greeting us at the end of our first month here in Spain. It certainly felt more like home, but it wasn’t quite what we had all thought we were signing up for when we moved to Catalunya last week to join the team here at ELITE! Despite my (grantedly very British) complaint, however, I can say our first couple of weeks in Esparreguera were all the better for their unpredictability. For the three of us four interns who speak (or at least try to speak) Spanish, the immersion in the language everywhere from taxis to street markets kicked our lazy summer brains into gear – if only we could find one TV channel in English – but the attempt to balance a mixture of English, Catalán and Castellano has proved a serious challenge. Add to that my Scottish accent, and it’s a miracle we’ve managed to make ourselves understood at all! The cultural differences have surprised us too. The stereotype may be of Brits as uptight or reserved, but it hasn’t seemed so far off the mark here, where it’s the norm to kiss strangers on the first meeting, or to gesture madly and touch people as you speak to them. The Spanish passion has also been obvious to us with our friendly and excitable coworkers – nowhere else would you spend the first night eating tapas together, or be taken to see airshows with your boss’ family! Siestas and Sundays, though, are what have thrown us off the...

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