Chelsea Krieg (survivingonspanglish.wordpress.com) is a twenty-something American, born and raised in a rural suburban town in southeastern Virginia. She holds a BA in English: Creative Writing from the University of Mary Washington where she cultured her love for literary journals and used books. While at university, she met a tall and handsome local who convinced her to marry him, whisked her off to North Carolina for his graduate endeavors, and then landed her in Spain. For four years, she has worked remotely as a technical writer for a growing medical company based in Virginia and she dabbles in freelance and volunteer editing on the side. Despite her bill-paying job as a stuffy technical writer, she also writes poetry and will be pursuing an MFA at North Carolina State University this fall.
1. How did you end up living in Sevilla?
My husband is pursuing a PhD in hispanic literature at the University of North Carolina in the United States. Through this program, he earned a work exchange position at CINECU in EUSA. There, he serves as program assistant to the study abroad program that brings American undergraduate students to study in Sevilla for a semester. I am along for the ride.
2. What’s the thing you like the most of Sevilla?
I love how much sevillanos get to know people on a personal level. In the United States, everyone is so busy hustling and bustling about that they often don’t have (or don’t make) the time to sit down and enjoy one another’s company. Sobremesa is my favorite Spanish word and it doesn’t surprise me that there is no direct translation in English.
Oh, and the wine. I really love the wine.
3. What is the one thing you’d most like to change about Sevilla?
It is sad that such a beautiful city can often be so dirty and that graffiti tags are everywhere. I also really miss carpet.
4. How do you cope with homesickness?
Skype is a wonderful tool that allows me to “visit” with family members and friends on a regular basis. I also beg visitors to bring me things from America like peanut butter and dark beer (sometimes a Cruzcampo just doesn’t cut it). Mostly, however, I am enjoying my time here and don’t get too homesick.
5. Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?
When I was young, my bear Felix and I were inseparable. As of late, I have traded my furry friend for a long-haired and bearded husband; they are both cuddly.
6. Any children’s book and/or film you consider essential?
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster is an incredible book, especially for older children who are learning to play with language and homonyms. When I was very young, I favored The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams and Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McClosky (but, perhaps mostly because my mother made up portions of the story).
7. What still-airing kid’s TV show character do you love?
I’m a sucker for Winnie the Pooh. He just makes you want to love him.
8. Do you remember any embarrassing mistake you’ve made while learning Spanish?
Let me count the ways! I am only in the B1 level of Spanish because I didn’t know Spanish at all before I moved here last August, so needless to say, it has been quite a journey. Because I learned French in college, I often replace Spanish words with French words and occasionally write oui in my homework, so that is frustrating. Otherwise, I try not to think about how many mistakes I
am making when I speak Spanish!
9. Any suggestion (or magic potion) to learn English effortlessly?
Well, I wouldn’t say that learning any new language is effortless, but practice is key. Immerse yourself in movies, music, TV, terrible tabloids – anything you find interesting in your native tongue, try branching out in English. Through learning Spanish, I have also learned that forcing yourself to speak with others (even if you make mistakes!) is very important.
10. Can we know what your plans for the future are?
My husband and I will return to America in August when he will return to his studies and I will begin pursuing a master’s degree in poetry. Before that, however, we plan to travel as much as we can and enjoy our easy-access to Europe. We are planning to begin the Camino de Santiago in June.