CAE Reading and Use of English Part 5
You are going to read a magazine article about an expat coming back home. For questions 31-36, choose the answer (A, B, C or D) which you think fits best according to the text.
Madrid, my home sweet home
It took a long time, but expat Isabel Eva Bohrer is finally ready to call Madrid her home
“Back home!” Whenever I board and disembark a plane, I make a point of texting my family about the status of my travels. The Iberia flight from Munich, where I grew up, to Madrid, where I had been living for two years, had been on time. “That’s a surprise”‘, I thought — the Spanish airline is notorious for its delays and strikes. Yet when I hit the ‘send’ button of my phone, I was caught even more profoundly by surprise. For the first time, I had referred to Madrid as my home.
As expats, we are bound to reflect on the notion of home at one point or another. Where is home? For many expats, the concept isn’t black or white. Home involves numerous gray areas, including family and friends, memories, language, religion, lifestyle, culture and more. Having lived abroad in the United States, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Switzerland and France, among others, I knew what it was like not to feel at home. In the United States, not having a Social Security Number made me an outsider, causing numerous inconveniences, such as not being able to get a phone contract with certain providers. In Brazil, not speaking the language perfectly had made me uneasy as I sensed that people talked behind my back.
In Spain, my blonde hair and fair skin clearly marks me as not a native. And yet, over the course of two years, I have managed to feel at home in the Spanish capital. My unpretentious apartment in the barrio de Salamanca — as opposed to the waterproof tent I had lived in while working on an organic farm in the Argentine Patagonia — allowed me to unload my baggage, both physically and mentally. Instead of having to gather wood for the night’s fires, as I had done when hiking in the South American mountains, I could settle down and focus on my professional goals as a writer.
But the feeling of home transcends the mere fact of having a somewhat permanent place to live. It is a mental sensation of equilibrium that is achieved over time. For me, feeling at home in Madrid has been a slow progressing relationship. The city initially made my acquaintance as a child: I had attended several summer camps to improve my language skills. At age 16, I completed an internship at an architecture firm in the north of the city. And at age 22, the capital and I hit a home run: I came back for good, moving in to my current piso (apartment). Slowly but surely, I learned to live the Spanish lifestyle. Dealing with cantamafanas (literally translated as “those who sing tomorrow”) is the quotidian routine here.
As a natural optimist, I continue to believe in all the positive aspects of living in Madrid. If sports ignite your spirit, Spaniards will welcome you to cheer along — the third-straight crowning of the Spanish football team at Euro 2012 was unprecedented. Unparalleled, too, is the nightlife, which will enthral flamenco lovers and clubbing addicts alike. At 8 a.m. you can watch the sun rise with chocolate con churros. In fact, the culinary joys never seem to sleep in Spain. There are tapas bars open at all hours, too many to enumerate. For the best bacalao (cod fish) in town, try Casa Labra, and the Bar Los Caracoles near the Rastro flea market for some Spanish escargot.
From the azure sky, my glance returned to the SMS on my phone: “Glad to hear you arrived safely,” my family had texted back. Though they referred to that particular Munich-Madrid flight, I read the message as a more universal interpretation of the expat lifestyle. As expats, we undergo a period of ambiguity, in which we always feel like those who have just arrived. But if you give your new destination a chance, it can eventually become your home.
31 What is most unexpected for the writer?
the early arrival of a plane that is usually late
something she subconsciously includes in a message
a difficult question she is asked by her family
the respect other travellers give her
34 What does the writer say about feeling at home in Madrid?
It didn’t happen quickly
It depended on finding a good place to live
It was a result of becoming proficient in Spanish
It required an acceptance of a slower lifestyle