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Columnists > Sheila Sullivan

Sheila Sullivan
Sheila is a freelance translator, editor, writer, and serial blogger who has been in Madrid long enough to consider herself a permanent Madrileña. She blogs about Madrid’s busy expat life for Cheap in Madrid. Follow her expat musings on Twitter where she tweets as @Sheila_Sull.

Sheila Sullivan

To What Degree Have You Become A Local?

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday May 13, 2014 (13:40:54)   (4004 Reads)
Sheila Sullivan
After living in a foreign country for a number of years, many expats find that they have taken on a lot of local customs and habits—sometimes due to sincere efforts to integrate, sometimes despite themselves. Which is why it is always so fun for me to ask fellow longtime expats if they feel they have “gone native,” and if so, in what ways.

These are questions I often pose to expats I run into here in Madrid. I also conduct expat interviews for a blog, and that is one of my favorite questions to ask.    more ...

Sheila Sullivan

Spending The Holidays In Spain

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday December 04, 2013 (00:47:39)   (4286 Reads)
Many of you fellow expats are going back to your home country for the holidays. But those of you who are spending the holidays in your adopted country this year will be able to learn about and explore new traditions there.

I have found that many of the Spanish traditions are quite similar to what I know from celebrating Christmas and New Year’s back in the United States. For example, going to midnight mass on Christmas Eve is not at all a culture shock for me. It was, however, fun to learn that they call midnight mass the Misa de Gallo, which translates literally to the “mass of the rooster.”

But there are other aspects that are indeed quite different. When we celebrate Christmas back in America, we sit down for a big meal on Christmas Day.    more ...

Sheila Sullivan

10 Reasons To Choose A Bus Tour Or Walking Tour Of Madrid

Posted by: Carole on Saturday September 14, 2013 (01:34:14)   (2742 Reads)
Sheila Sullivan
Whether you’re a short-term or a long-term expat, I am sure you’ll agree that getting lots of visits from family and friends is one of the most enjoyable parts of the expat experience.

You short-term expats need to see as much of your adopted country as fast as you can, and taking friends and family around provides the perfect excuse to do just that. You’re probably getting a ton of visitors all at once, since everyone wants to make sure they get their visit in before your time abroad is up. Of course, you are having a blast with all these visits, but sometimes receiving multiple guests over the space of just a few short months can leave you a little burned out.

Fellow long-term expats like me will find that visits are more spread out over time. We get a lot of repeat visitors, which is great, because they don’t want to see the same things over and over, so it gives us a chance to go off the beaten path.    more ...

Sheila Sullivan

Summer Cuisine In Spain

Posted by: Carole on Thursday July 11, 2013 (18:06:10)   (3102 Reads)
Sheila Sullivan
Many of you expats must have favorite foods in your adopted country. I am lucky enough to be living in Spain, so I get to enjoy the Mediterranean diet every day. There are so many great dishes here in Spain that it is hard to narrow it down to just one favorite. However, I can say that I have a favorite season to be eating here, and that is summer.

In the summer, as the heavy heat rolls in, people start to cook lighter meals. The nice part about living here is that the ingredients do not have to travel very far before they reach your plate. I love the summertime salads made with fresh, locally grown vegetables.

The heat lasts well into the night in the summer in Madrid. It is almost impossible to sleep in this heat, so everyone stays out late.    more ...

Sheila Sullivan

The Importance Of Learning The Local Language

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday June 04, 2013 (12:05:59)   (7694 Reads)
Sheila Sullivan
Many of you expats will find yourself in the same situation that I am in: living in a country whose language is different from that of your home country. And many of you will be faced with the decision of whether to try to learn that language or not. In my opinion, and in my experience, it is well worth your while to consider taking up this new language.

Perhaps you studied this language before you moved. In that case you’ve got a head start. But maybe the last time you studied it was back in school, and at the time you did not consider it very relevant, so you were not paying a lot of attention. Some of you have not even taken a single course yet. Perhaps all you have done is memorized a few phrases from a travel guide, and since moving, you have had a chance to try out your pronunciation while buying train tickets or shopping.    more ...

Sheila Sullivan

Taking My Visitors Out To Eat In Madrid

Posted by: Carole on Thursday April 25, 2013 (18:22:52)   (3139 Reads)
Sheila Sullivan
Everyone knows that the best way to tour a place is to be taken around by locals, or at the very least, by long-term expats. That’s partly why we expats are so lucky to get lots of visits from friends and relatives. It’s loads of fun taking guests around, of course, but there’s also a little pressure. We’ve been here a while, so we’re expected to know a thing or two about our adopted country, and this especially goes for food. If we took our visitors to eat at a tourist trap, they would think we haven’t been making the most of our time abroad to learn about local culinary delights.

To prepare for visits from loved ones, I try to get into the frame of mind of what kinds of foods and drinks I think will really strike them as delicious and unusual.    more ...

Sheila Sullivan

How To Find Unique Gifts To Bring Friends And Family From Spain

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday March 27, 2013 (02:08:15)   (24263 Reads)
Sheila Sullivan
After so many years living abroad in Spain, I can’t keep bringing my family and friends the same souvenirs. It would be easy enough to walk into any souvenir shop on calle Mayor—the main drag in Madrid which connects Puerta del Sol to Plaza Mayor—and pick up a couple of bull knick-knacks. Now, magnets, key chains, and mugs make fine souvenirs from a place you’ve only visited once. But let’s face it: we expats have to make a better effort. Every year I struggle to find gifts that are unique and that say something more authentic about my adopted country.

Spain being renowned for its cuisine, my gifts often revolve around food. That was easy enough before airlines introduced all those pesky liquid restrictions (yes, I’ve been here that long!). I would bring back bottles of my favorite wines and anisettes—the ones I love, but now I can never find in Duty Free. Everyone was delighted the year I brought home tiny bottles of my favorite olive oils. You just can’t find olive oil made from picual olives anywhere in the United States.    more ...

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