From the cultural center office you could hear the Spanish accent of a special guest here at Whittier College. Macarena Uriarte is a visitor from Seville, Spain. She is a close family friend of Professor of Spanish Rafael Chabran and has been a guest speaker in his classes as well as in other Spanish classes. Uriarte also stopped by a Spanish Club meeting where she taught the girls how to dance a traditional dance from her hometown. Uriarte looks forward to many more things on her short stay. “I have not even left yet and I’m already planning when I’m coming back.” Uriarte said.
With a bright pink flower on her neck and a pink striped shirt, Macarena Maki Uriarte talks about her experiences here in America.
What was your first impression of the United States?
“My first impression was that the films are true. When I got here, I felt everything was like a film. The films are real. I felt like I was making a film. The ice cream truck, the police, the big cars. In Europe, we have a lot of influence by the American culture, therefore I felt like I was in a film.”
What do you miss the most about Spain?
“The only thing I miss is the breakfast. Spanish breakfast. Our bread is different. It is healthier and we take a lot of time to make it. Breakfast is time we spend with our family in the beginning of the morning. I also prefer the coffee from my country. Real coffee not like a water coffee.”
What is the difference between people in Spain and people in America?
“There are a lot of differences. The people here are very honest and sometimes innocent. In my culture, or at least in Spain, we are always looking out for burglars. For example, we do not leave our doors unlocked and here everybody leaves them unlocked. I don’t because in my mind I think it’s bad to leave it unlocked, how would you say it, I’m acostumbrada (accustomed).”
What has been your most memorable experience here so far?
“I have to say I have had fantastic, amazing, gorgeous experiences. For example, I went to The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund benefit dinner. I just recently went to San Francisco. I like San Francisco a lot. It is like New York with a combination of a European touch. Yesterday, I went to a speech and today I appeared on a web page that reported on the event that took place on the Petersen Automotive Museum for the Zocalo Public Square where there was a hearing of Tim Wu speaking on his new book. It was super sick.”
What are some of your hobbies?
“I like to travel, to read and sports. I love to go out with my friends. My favorite sport is baseball. I like tennis too and I play paddle ball. I also love speaking different languages. I love pictures. I speak French better than English. Last week I went to the French class to talk to the students. I love compliments; I love adding a little something to everything I wear. I went dressed with a little compliment of France in my wardrobe. I like shopping and clothes, I’m a sale hunter.”
You mentioned clothes, are the styles here different?
“Of course. The style is way different. I dress differently than people. Here it’s funny; I can’t find my style because the clothes are different, the colors are different, the fit is different. One time my friends came here and bought some Ray Bans and they told me they paid over $100 for them and I told them you are crazy. But now that I’m here I realize why they bought them; they are so American. I bought some replica look-alike for $10. I had to, it’s the American style.”
What kind of music do you dance to?
“I dance Sevillanas. It is a dance that we dance in the Feria de Abril. It is one week long and people go to a special place in Seville and we have fun. We dance to four songs and we dance four different choreographies. People from the south of Spain know how to dance Sevillanas. And in every party, weddings, birthdays and sometimes in discos people dance Sevillanas. Here, the girls form the Spanish Club know how to do dance Sevillanas because I taught them last week.”
What did you study in Spain?
“I have studied tourism for three years that’s why I speak French and English. After that I worked as a receptionist at a travel agency. I earned a little bit of money and spent a lot of hours my day there so I decided to continue my studies so I have an Industry Relations degree. I studied it for two years and after that I found a job in a worker accident insurance company. In Spain we have two different hospitals. Normal hospitals and one for workers accidents. So I work in an office in the worker hospital as Administrator Coordinator.”
What are the things you look forward to doing before you are leaving?
“This week I’m going to rent a convertible to go to Santa Barbara. I’m only going to drive in the parking lot because the freeway is too dangerous. We are also going camping soon and roasting marshmallows, so American (Laughs). We are going to Pueblo Basco. You can eat Basque food. I’m going to go to a Lakers match and the most important thing I’m going to have dinner the day of thanksgiving with my American family.”