Wednesday, October 6, 2010

One month later, what I have learned so far...

I can't believe I have been in Spain for one month already!  Sometimes I feel like I have been here for 2 days and other times it feels like I have always lived here.  Its starting to feel a bit like a third home, after Lake Mills and Carroll of course. :) 

Thinking of what the big '1 month mark' blog should contain was quite a task.  Almost all the previous posts have been after something big, but lately things have settled down around here.  One night while riding the bus home from Madrid with Marzia, we were discussing everything that was different.  We started making a list of things we have noticed and had quite a laugh in the process, lets just say people were staring at us on the bus. 

So here it is, things that I have learned about Spaniards after living abroad for one month.

1.  Spaniards are very skinny.  I don't know how, because they fry EVERYTHING and eat loaves, and loaves of bread.
2.  Making out in public is normal, regardless of the time of day or the sobriety of the people.  I don't know what phrase is equivalent to "get a room" but I need to learn it, someone here needs to tell these people that PDA is NOT necessary at all hours of the day.
3. Spaniards are in general short.  Now some of you may be thinking, "yeah sure, coming from the girl that is 5'1" calling others short."  But really, I am average/above average in the height department around here.  Its great. 
4.  Style - Now everyone knows that Europeans are more stylish than Americans, and it is true.  Spanish women wear high heels everywhere.  I don't know how they do it, because they walk just as fast and on cobblestones!  However, there are some major fashion disasters that occur here too.  For example jorts are in style.  Jorts are shorts in the jean material for guys.  They are awful and should be outlawed, along with the euro "rat-tail".
5.  They like to party, a lot.  Anything in Spain can be turned into a reason to party; first day of classes, strikes in Madrid, Thursday nights, you get the picture.  Along with the extreme partying comes lack of sleeping.  I don't understand how people in this country survive because they never sleep.  I do not function well without 8 hours of sleep a night, so I compensate by sleeping until 3pm on the weekends. :)
6.  Work ethic is...different.  I don't know what people do all day at work here but they don't seem to get a lot done...and it takes a lot people to get that small amount of work done.  I think there is a lot of paper shuffling.  Lunch is the biggest meal of the day and everyone goes home from work during lunch.  They close down stores from 2-5 so they can "siesta"...(I guess this is when they catch up on the lack of sleep).  Its really annoying when you are out and about and all the sudden everything is closed.  And Sundays, are horrible.  Don't even bother making any sort of plans because everything is closed on Sundays.

Now Americans have a pretty bad rap around the world, and some of it unfortunately is true, but most is not.  One of the most positive attributes of Americans that I have realized since I have been here is that Americans are humble.  If its "American made" that doesn't necessarily make it the best.  For example Italian leather and Chinese electronics are widely accepted to be the best.  Spanish people are not humble.  If its Spanish, then its the best. 

So there you have it, some of the things I have learned after one month.

This weekend I am going to Alicante with my host family.  Its a city on the Mediterranean coast where they have a vacation home.  Don't worry, I will get enough beach time in for everyone.  :)


Joe Vadeboncoeur said...

I love this post. I love the perspective.

I am more than excited every time a new post pops up.

Looking forward to the next one already.

Analia said...

Wow, you have them all figured out already! Fun people, huh? I also loved being "tall" there but hated that the women are all so petite!It comes from drinking so much espresso and smoking and walking around in those heels! Wait until you see the elderly women out in the mountains hiking in their skirts and pumps. So awesome.
The any-excuse-for-a-party thing is dead on and so is the "work" ethic. Why do you think they are always so cheerful? "Work to live", not "live to work".
The coast of Alicante is my favorite! So pretty! And the water is so turquoisey! You will love it. Que lo pases bomba! un beso

Clara Smon said...

Wow Ali
I love this post. Don't forget to keep doing this as you go along. The learning doesn't stop, even your last day in the country there will be something that you can take home.
Although I miss you dearly, I am so excited for you. I know that we both studied abroad, but they are such incredibly different experiences! Both completely valid and life-changing. This post really makes me want to see you, have some coffee, and talk. And maybe that's partially possible through skype, but not really.
I love your perspective and am excited to help you through culture shock ;)

Katcando Jewelry said...

Love your posts, Ali...... anxiously awaiting more!

G as in Chris said...

A lot of this post reminds me of several reasons why I left the States. I think we get it wrong in our culture in many ways compared to the Euros. A simple example is that by moving here, I instantly doubled my vacation time, and it's STILL less in the UK than most of Europe.

Please do another post like this later on, and make sure to let us know any differences you notice within yourself.

Miss you!