University : University of Iowa
So, I want to share all of the different cultural practices I’ve noticed, but also the surprises I’ve encountered when it comes to la vida España. This is probably one of the most important things I will write while here in Palma, and if you don’t read any of my other posts, at least read this one. It amazes me. I’ll keep adding to this list as well, so this is not concrete.
- Dos Besos: Kind of like a hug in America. Upon greeting your friend, a stranger, or a relative you haven’t seen in a while, the commonality is to give them two little smooches on either cheek. This is done for an encounter with men/women and women/women. For two men, a handshake will do. I will state that I am not sure if it is common for family members to do this (sister/sister, mother/sister, etc.) but I am pretty sure that the answer is “not so much.” Contrary to your current belief, this is not awkward. Americans are weird about their personal space, but I honestly love this little exchange when I greet my friends. It’s something different and I definitely feel the love
- La Siesta: As an American, I can say that our perception of Spaniards and their siesta is a bit off. Siesta is an event that happens every day–depending on who you are, or what kind of day you are having–around 2 or 3pm, where you recoup from a long and tiring morning. Shops during the hours of 2-5 (roughly, it is really up to the owner) will close in order for employees to go home, eat, rest, pick up the kids from school if needed, or really anything of their choosing. In my opinion this is the greatest idea for business owners and parents. And WHO doesn’t like a few hours to just relax? It’s basically our right, and Spain acknowledges that. Way to go, Spain!
- Tips: no. Tips don’t exist here. If you really like a waiter, or you’re a really pesky customer, or you want him to call the number you left because you think he’s gorgeous, tip him. Or don’t. Because unlike in the U.S., angry and greedy American’s do not choose your hourly wage at the end of the day. On a busy night when you have a 30 page midterm paper due the next day and you forgot to study for that Spanish exam, you will not be punished for not satisfying the grumpy old man who sends his steak back three times because it wasn’t firm enough. Europe knows how to do life. Europe knows how to deal with snobbish customers–by not letting them punish you for their own self misery.
- Time To EAT!: Breakfast is on your own. whenever you awaken is when you choose to have breakfast. However, Lunch is roughly around 2 pm every day. Dinner is anywhere from 8:30-10:00pm. Or so it has been for me. This is called being generally knowledgeable. Once again, Spain wins. If you get hungry between breakfast and lunch because you woke up early, eat a snack. Hungry between lunch and dinner? Eat a snack. In this country I am always hungry for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. I hardly every snack, and I never question why I am eating. Meal times here just known when your stomach will be a growlin’. And it’s magnificent. PROPS.
- Mediterranean Cuisine: best thing I have ever tasted. Never going back to my frozen vegetables and Boca burgers. Goodbye to the disgusting, packaged, processed life I once led. Never again.
- Las Noticias-Is this saying something?: This isn’t much of a culture shock, but more of a surprise to me. Every night my host family watches the news after eating dinner, which is weird on its own. What’s even weirder is that the news contains highlights on the presidential campaign in the United States. Hold up. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING. Not that I don’t appreciate catching up on los estados unidos in spanish, but WHOA. Guys, they actually care about what is happening in our country. This is completely and utterly wrong to me. It’s wrong because I know many young people here who know what is going on with our country. Yet ask a youth of America anything about Spain and they’ll stare at you blankly until you change the subject. They hardly know anything about our OWN country. But then you come to a country like Sapin, which is having its own incredibly hard time in terms of the “presidency,” and they are interested in our stupid, effed up elections. Let’s open our eyes. Let’s get educated.
- Me+Fashion=no: I haven’t worn a sweatshirt in public once. If I did I’d fear the instant judgment from all of the incredibly fashionable Spaniards. They told us to try to blend in while we are here, and I thought I wouldn’t have a problem. However I was born a blonde and that unfortunately does not mesh here in the country that basically created the whole “tall, dark, and handsome” thing. So in an attempt to look less American, I try to at least wear jeans and a scarf every day. It doesn’t do much but a girl can dream.
More to come, lo prometo.
Visit CIEE Palma de Mallorca: