Current Anxiety Rating: 2
01.09.2014 - 07.09.2014 93 °F
Now that I have been here over a week I feel qualified-ish to come up with a short list of things that definitely set Spain apart from the United States. In case you are interest in that sort of thing. I am obviously using Granada in particular as my frame of reference, but most of these things apply to what I experienced during my short time in Madrid and Toledo as well.
1. Let's start off with something obvious: Practically everything, with the exception of restaurants and larger businesses, closes between about 2 and 6 during the day. Now I am not going to complain because that means I get to take a nap every day after lunch but still, it does mean if you have morning classes until lunch you have to use the window between 6 and dinner (usually 9 pm) to get anything done.
2. Another obvious one: Meals are completely different. Breakfast is more or less at normal time (9am) but lunch usually doesn't start around 2pm when siesta starts. Dinner then often doesn't start until 9 or later. This makes for one hungry Alison. And a hungry Alison is a grumpy Alison. But lucky for me...
3. They sell fruit and bread for practically nothing. Like I can pick up two small rolls for 0.45 euros or like 4 pieces of fruit for 0.70 euros right on my way to school in the morning!
4. Careful, because you may be fed until you actually explode. These Spanish mamas mean business. Just when you think you have everything on the table they come out with another course, and they may be disappointed or displeased of you don't manage to eat it all.
5. Speaking of food related things: Practically everyone is skinny, and when I say everyone, I mean everyone, young people, little kids, middle aged people, and old people. I think this is because...
6. Everyone walks everywhere. Since I have arrived in Spain I have walked anywhere from 2.5 miles (absolute minimum) to 8+ miles a day. This is how they manage to eat so much bread. I understand now.
7. Although otherwise they seem really health conscious, tons of people smoke. People smoke in the street. People smoke in the house. People smoke while walking around with their new babies.
8. Also, driving is completely different. Therefore, being a pedestrian is completely different. I have been standing, waiting to cross the street, and had buses blow by me so close that I could feel them. Cars are no exception. People drive down these tiny little streets that are mostly just sidewalks with road signs and it is a wonder more people aren't run over every year. I definitely need to learn the verb for "to be run over" because it could become useful.
9. Another thing about being a pedestrian: people here have very different notions about pedestrian courtesy. People stop right in the middle of the sidewalk, so suddenly that you want to tell them their break lights are out. People sort of just weave around each other and sometimes they don't even do that. Often they just walk straight at you like it is a game of chicken and the first person to change their course loses (I always lose). People run into you without so much as a "Pardóname." People just have smaller personal bubbles.
10. Additionally, here it is way more common to stare down a passerby as you walk down the street, eat dinner, whatever. And when you make eye contact with people, there is no smiling or nodding politely. Nope, they just keep staring.
11. As I mentioned in a previous post, everyone goes out at night regardless of what day of the week it is. You are likely to see as many people out on a Wednesday as you would in the US on a Friday. And it isn't just young people out until the wee hours of the morning, it's kids and older people, too.
12. Also, all of these people are impeccably dressed and styled regardless of the time of day. No gym shorts here!
13. Also, they accomplish this look with much less shower-time. Because water is expensive in the region I am in, it is common to take 5 minute showers. 10 minutes absolute max. There is no standing under the water and pondering life here unless you can do it incredibly fast and while shampooing. And I don't have that kind of multitasking skill yet.
14. It is normal to see a tons of people wearing long pants or jeans on a 90 degree days. (This confounds me)
15. Despite the heat, many houses don't have air conditioning. Many have fans, but the central air we are used to in the states isn't so popular.
16. Also it is not unusual to see people walking around with bottles of water as long as their forearm. I am now one of those people. It is over 90 degrees so I just accept it.
17. PDA is a thing. I walked through a park the other day and it was just strewn with couples in various stages of making out/ cudding/ etc. It was also 90ish degrees so I was vaguely impressed. And that's just one example.
I think that is all for now. Again, these are just a few of the thing I have noticed so far and I am sure there will be more, so I may update this list later!
Again thanks for reading and keep your eye on my blog for more updates!
Thank you to the Helen Barr Rudin Grant for making this blog and my adventures abroad possible*