Being in an entirely different country, I was bound to find some peculiarities. Some I’m adjusting to easily, others well, simply put: “foreign”. I wanted to start to make a list that will surely grow as time continues. However, this is not meant to draw a line between the Spanish and American cultures. When this adventure is over, I’d like to look back and remember what I used to think of as strange or different.
1. Meals: Small breakfast (pastry/bread, coffee), Snack (coffee, maybe small sandwich, something sweet), large lunch late in the afternoon (Pork is almost always served in a variety of dishes in various ways with starch/vegetables and a baquetta on the table), maybe another small snack, dinner is served very late and is smaller (earliest nine, very simple), dessert is always fruit
2. People go out and stay out LATE. I’m talking, if you come home before four, you’re home early. Also, the bars don’t start getting crowed until 12. Unless you’re partaking in botellons (which are “illegal”), drinking is a social event. There isn’t has much “pounding” as in the states.
3. Family is very important. Every home-stay I’ve heard about has an emphasis on the closeness of families and relationships in general. Kids a lot of times live with their parents until late in their 30’s or until they’re married. If they live somewhere else, they live close and they visit everyday. Also, young couples are together for a very long time; since they were children. Boyfriends are practically adopted by the girlfriends’ family.
4. Generally, every Spanish person I met is extremely kind and patient if you don’t speak Spanish.
5. If they don’t work in an area in which tourist frequently visit (department stores, banks, information desks) they most likely do not speak English. It’s starting to change with the younger generation but don’t be naive enough to think everyone naturally learns English.
6. Sadly, this is a smoking country. There are Tobacco stores on almost every street. Practically everyone does it. Thankfully, people are no longer allowed to smoke in public buildings.
7. There are dogs everywhere! What’s even better, they are all extremely well behaved. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen an unleashed dog walking calmly next to its owner. It doesn’t even look up at me when it passes by.
8. Stores take their siestas seriously. No, people don’t sleep for two hours in the middle of the day. It’s generally 30 minutes. But small stores/shops will be close from about 2-4 everyday. And don’t even think you can get in a shop on Sundays.
9. Meals at home are always in front of the TV. (And I thought this was only an American thing!)
10. Spanish use utensil when they eat. (Including french fries or potato frites as they call them)
11. They do not eat spicy food, at all! The spiciest thing they serve is “potatas bravas” which is fried potatoes in what they think is a spicy sauce. It’s laughable how weak the dish is.
12. “Spanish Time” is very different than “American Time”. Though not entirely universal, students are still expected to show up to class on time, the majority of people never seem to be in a hurry. Like today at the bank when I was exchanging money, the teller was very casually taking his time, while I was anxious to get to class on time. Living here takes patience.
Again, these are just my own personal observations thus far. I’ll be sure to continue when possible!