cultural-navigations

I’m gonna say it outside of the tag:

Rihanna has held her own in this era beside /against Beyoncé and I am proud of her. NONE of the other girls who have “flopped” are immigrants navigating this culture and the industry, much less the fact she was only supposed to be a summer song TEN years ago. Throw unnecessary shade all day, but this is more than proof she ain’t going nowhere-and I mean, y'all been waiting since Rated R, so dust to you anyway. Her and Beyoncé are the ONLY ones at BET, MTV, Grammy’s, etc.

And no, her and Beyoncé don’t ever need to collaborate and it’s not a diss that they haven’t ( Y'all really waiting on a dusty ass Put it In a Love Song video that’s never gonna happen-no way Bey likes that song ANYWAY. Neither Video Phone or Telephone remix were THAT needed. Feeling Myself, the record itself, wasn’t even all that either). She was hella young when they met, and there’s still an age difference that I feel plays a part. If it ain’t DC members, Blue’s daddy, or a man ( Usher, JT, Luther) the collab is always below her musically in some way.

Captain with balls of steel

“Most honored captain Pasha, I have carefully read your letter. If in the Island of Rhodes were the knights that are in this ‘pig-sty’, you could be assured that you would have not conquered it. You’ll learn that here are Portuguese, used to killing many Moors and are commanded by António da Silveira who has a pair of balls stronger than the balls of your cannons and that all the Portuguese here have balls and do not fear those who don’t have them.

António da Silveira’s response to Suleiman Pasha, who had 70 Turkish galleys and a land army of 23.000 men, Silveira had a garrison of 600 Portuguese. 

Suleiman Pasha was a court eunuch who gained power after a Court Coup, having beheaded the entire Turkish royal family and therefore usurping the throne. When António da Silveira receives a letter from the Turk with terms of surrender, he turned to his companions saying: Let us see what does the castrated dog has to say, and read the letter in public. 

Suleiman Pasha promised the Portuguese free leave of people and goods as long as they returned to the Coast of Malabar and handed over the fortress and their weapons. Suleiman promised to skin alive all of the Portuguese if they did not obey his conditions, referring that he had the largest army in Cambay, among which were many who participated in the taking of Belgrade, Hungary and the Island of Rhodes. 

Finally he asked António da Silveira how would he defend the pig-sty with so few pigs

In the year of 1537, for more than a month, António da Silveira fought bravely, remaining only less than 40 Portuguese capable of fighting, but causing so many casualties to the Turks, that these gave up on the siege and retired from Diu, granting victory to the Portuguese “pigs”.

Source: “Homens, Espadas e Tomates” by Rainer Daehnhardt

That’s a wrap

I’ve been back in England for little under one month now, and have finally brought myself round to the idea of writing a summary post.  Though keen to avoid year abroad clichés, I have written and re-written this article and seem completely incapable of jumping the “finding myself” stereotype.  The saying goes “when you can’t beat them, join them”, and I have since decided to embrace the cringe wholeheartedly (or as much as my own sense of dignity will allow).

Anybody who has embarked on the so-called “sandwich year” will understand the benefits and difficulties one will undoubtedly encounter whilst living abroad.  The truth is that much of the detail – especially the parts that weren’t particularly enjoyable – is erased from the year-out narrative, and perhaps rightly so: when you enquire about someone’s experience, you are not asking for an outpouring of the soul.  It’s easy to talk about discovering new joys in a new culture, less so to discuss the navigation of cultural stereotypes and fighting homesickness.  My year abroad was, like all tend to be, a mixed bag – more positive than negative overall, but still with a hearty serving of occasional crisis.

England is most definitely my comfort zone, and I am quite content to make my home here again – unpacking my books and potted plant, soaking up all the greenery of the English countryside, and enjoying drinking tea with company (not alone, while everyone else eats chorizo and drinks espresso). Settling into one’s own culture is natural, but it is also not the end of the line.  To push the boundaries and live where you aren’t comfortable is an important lesson to learn, and an integral part of life.  

My year abroad was about pressing pause on my university existence, doing something I wasn’t completely comfortable with, and trusting that at some point I was going to learn something useful.  These expectations were, of course, well and truly smashed.  I steadily discovered whole new versions of myself that had never been given the floor space to come out and dance.  I was glad to discover more positive aspects of my character, but the reverse was also true – how was I to learn of my hermit-like tendencies if I had not allowed isolation, already a huge reality for many students, to rear its ugly head and eat away at my own self-assurance?  

Fighting my battles alone, with fewer friends nearby for moral support, meant that I learnt my demons and found new strategies for combat.  I think this is an experience that most people go through in their early twenties, and living abroad perhaps makes the whole process a bit more acute.

Overcoming daily challenges brings a gratitude to life.  When I learnt that I had been confusing “garganta” (throat) and “garbanzo” (chick pea), and that none of the Spaniards had bothered to correct me, I realised that I was truly grateful when people did bother to tell me I had got a word wrong.  Likewise, when I first left an answerphone message in Spanish without sounding like a complete goon, I found reason to celebrate.  “Do not despise the day of small things” (Zech 4v10) brought on a whole new shade of meaning.

Now emerging the other side of what I like to call my “hard-core” exchange, firmly pressing play on my final year of optional modules and part-time employment, I have learnt that the best training ground is the place where you are not wallowing in comfort and indulgence.   I had to leave the country to find that place: to learn that God isn’t some celestial Santa Claus waiting to grant my every wish, and to start addressing some of my hidden character flaws.  I firmly believe that you cannot fully appreciate the good things life has to offer without getting a taste of the darker side, and my year abroad stands a favor.

To those people leaving for life abroad in the next few weeks, I hope that your experience is as richly filled as mine was – that you savour the moments which bring you joy and satisfaction, and that you use the difficult moments for good.

Okay, cheese over.  Hattam out *drops mic*

Flor de la Mar.

One of the finest vessels of its time, this Portuguese ship participated in the conquest of Socotra, conquest of the cities of Curiati (Kuryat) and Muscat, the battle of Diu, conquest of Goa and the conquest of Malacca.

Commanded by Afonso de Albuquerque, bringing with him a large treasure trove for the King of Portugal, it was caught in a storm and wrecked on some shoals, causing numerous casualties. The ship did not survive the storm and sank during the night of 20 November in 1511. A replica of the ship is housed in the Maritime Museum in Malacca, Malaysia.

For more information on ships from Portugal, click here