The Battle of the Beaches

My last piece for Europe&Me reflected on one of France’s most prized liberties: the right to freedom of expression. An essential underpinning of their Republic, this tacit social norm is tantamount to what it is to be French. Within France’s culture, the right of expression is as entrenched as their sense of égalité. It is…

Free Speech Foibles

Nowadays, the definition of freedom of speech is about as fickle as Boris Johnson’s political allegiances. It’s not easy to pin down; it yo-yos about as much as Renée Zellweger’s dietary habits. In the post-modern world, this concept is an unruly beast. What’s more, nobody can say what’s really on their mind without fear of…

8 Genuinely Useful Spanish Idioms

For this post I’d like to return to a pet subject of mine: idiomatic sayings. I’ve always been fascinated by these quirks of linguistics; they intrigue me due to the often incongruous nature of their literal translations. Spanish, much like Italian; English; French (well, all modern languages for that matter), is littered with these colloquial…

Valencia: City of Fire

¡Ya estamos en Fallas! I’ve been living in Valencia for just over a month; it’s been an invaluable experience so far. Whether it’s fiestas, carnivals, football matches or flamenco shows, there’s always something going on. In fact, I’d say it is almost impossible to feel bored in this city. The vast majority of these cultural events have two things…

Oscars 2016: is it time for Leonardo DiCaprio?

The Oscars are just a couple of days away. For Leonardo DiCaprio they could spell a pivotal moment in his career. Has his time finally come? Will he get one at long last? Many will be rooting for him; others remain skeptical. In my last article, I speculated as to whether he is worthy of…

7 Common Misconceptions about Spain

Like all nations of the world, there are many popular stereotypes about Spain and her people. Flamenco is everywhere, isn’t it? It’s always sunny! Spanish people don’t really work, do they? I’d like to challenge some of these falsely-held beliefs and ascertain their validity. Entonces vamos! 1. Flamenco is a popular Spanish dance; everyone knows…

Does Leonardo DiCaprio really deserve an Oscar?

With the Oscars coming up, there’s obviously been a fair bit of speculation as to who will receive the much coveted ‘Best Actor’ award. However, the real question on everyone’s lips this year: does Leonardo DiCaprio really deserve it? Over the years, this actor has become an institution. He is a complete franchise in himself….

First Week in Valencia

The year abroad was a seminal factor in my decision to study languages at university. Although I have been expecting it, I can’t help feeling that I’ve somehow managed to blag myself an unforgettable experience. Nowhere was this feeling more pronounced than during my first week in Valencia. For the second semester of the academic…

Sete EP – Review

I think it would be safe to say that Italians are not exactly renowned for their production of Rock/Pop music. Save, of course, Umberto Tozzi with the unforgettable late 70’s anthem: Gloria, no others immediately spring to mind. In fact, I’d challenge any British national to name just one contemporary Italian musician. I’m not talking about their illustrious opera…

Fluent in a year? 

For some of us we don’t even get that long; for others it’s probably wishful thinking.  As language students, just how realistic is it to achieve fluency on our year abroad? Is it too ambitious; an unreachable aim? No doubt, it very much depends on the person. However, I’d like to look at some of…

L’eleganza è la semplicità (less is more)

I would like, in this post, to delve a little deeper into the most important element of Italian culture. I’ve hinted at it several times before. It is, of course, their world-famous cuisine. Now, the last thing I want is for this site to become some kind of weird, failed foodie blog. Truth be told,…