Then There Were Five


Meet the latest addition to the Spanish Apartment:


Such is my ignorance of Latin Americans that I thought his hair was not naturally curly.

Meet Gerson, a theatre graduate from Baranquilla, Colombia (the hometown of the magnificent Sofia Vergara and Shakira). He won a Young Talents Fellowship under ICETEX to take a diploma in Arts & Cultural Management at the International University of Catalonia. He has acted on the stage and on television, and plans to one day have his own TV show.

As a member of Fundación Doctora Clown (Clown Doctors), he dispenses the medicine of laughter to sick children in the hospital.

Gerson (far left) dressed as his clown persona, Coco.

Unlike the rest of us who are doing the Masters Program, Gerson is taking the non-degree track of the program. He opted to take the course in English in order to improve his communication skills, instead of choosing the Spanish track. He really wanted to study drama or something related to performance art, he said, but he couldn’t find any courses within the fellowship’s budget in Spain. So now he is studying the legal aspects and tools of cultural management instead of acting or dance. It is twice the challenge for him.

So now we are five (at least until April, which is when Gerson finishes his studies).

He is a welcome addition to the flat first because now our individual rent payments go down. It is also good to have another Spanish speaker in the flat aside from Awat, so that we non-Spanish speakers have more opportunities to practice and learn Castellan, something I have not been doing as much as I should. Thirdly (pun intended), it is great to have another person from a developing country with whom I can share common experiences and traditions.

Moreover, another male in the flat is better than being the only thorn among the roses. Being surrounded by females both at school and at home–pleasant though it may seem–can get quite exhausting. Having relatives and friends who are gay, I’m accustomed to interacting with homosexuals, although it is the first time that I will be living with one. Most importantly, however, is that Gerson is a welcome addition to our home because he is a good person with a pleasant sense of humour.

It does not come without its drawbacks of course. Having more people in the flat means less space and as I’ve written about previously, getting along with three people is challenging enough for me as it is.

Only time will tell.

How To Survive a 22-Hour Flight


When I saw that flying from Manila, Philippines to Barcelona, Spain would take me  a whopping twenty two hours (with a two-hour layover in Singapore and a hidden stop in Madrid), I decided to look up tips to make the trip more manageable. Here is a list of tips that would make air travel more bearable, should you find yourself flying across time zones.

1. Fly via Singapore Airlines Whenever possible, fly Singapore Airlines. I cannot stress this enough. Once you’ve already decided to fly halfway around the world, invest in the best airline to get you there.

Changi Airport is the best. This is the view from one of the free foot massage chairs that line the concourse. There is also a free cinema, water fountains, butterfly garden, and of course, wifi.

Their food is better, you can order as many drinks as your bladder can hold, you have your own entertainment centre with the latest films, TV series, documentaries, stage performances, and music. Did I mention this is in economy class? Along with Emirates, which I’ve yet to experience, Singapore Airlines is ranked the best airline in the world. And deservedly so.

This is business class. One day, first class, one day.

But say you didn’t follow my advice and flew on an airline that’s not Singapore Airlines, then you’ll need to bring the following in order to maintain your sanity in prolonged confinement in high altitudes with complete strangers:

2. Bring a sleep mask, ear plugs, and travel pillow Some people have the uncanny ability to sleep regardless of where they are (my father for example), and are also able to instantly adjust to time differences. If you’re not one of these people, however, you can diminish the effects of jet lag by sleeping or waking according to the time zone of your destination. Flying from east to west, with the Philippines being six hours ahead of Spain, I tried sleeping a few hours later in the week leading up my flight, and on the plane, I slept when it was nighttime at my destination. A sleep mask is usually provided. For travel pillows, I use the inflatable type, which isn’t the best, but is great if you don’t have a lot of room in your carry-on. If you have the budget, I would recommend the J Pillow – Winner of British Invention of the Year 2013

3. Get a seat towards the rear of the plane It’s roomier back there, but at the same time, but of course, be sure to get one that’s not right next to the lavatories. You’re likely to get an empty seat adjacent to you, so you can stretch out or even lie down. If there are empty seats in another row, work something out with your fellow passengers. Some other travellers are able to get bumped up to business class, but this is pretty rare.

4. Wear comfortable clothes Leave the tight jeans in your luggage. The high altitude will cause you to bloat, and wearing constricting clothing will become even quite uncomfortable. Wear sweatshirts, joggers, and shoes that are easy to slip on and off. Some women advise wearing loose tops so that you can easily and inconspicuously slip off your bra.

Continue to page 2 to keep reading ‘How to Survive a 22-Hour Flight