After being in Spain for three weeks, I think I can now safely say what I like better about it and what is better in the States without having judged too quickly.
- How most people speak more than one language. For example, my Spanish sister is learning five languages right now in school and there is a Turkish guy in my class that is working on his fourth language. In addition to that, you can meet someone from almost any nationality here. Just last week, within an hour, we made friends with an Irish woman and a British man. You can probably say this almost anywhere in Europe, but it is just so much more culturally diverse here.
- Rebajas! Right now is the biggest sale of the year and every store window has a big red sign that says, “Rebajas.” These sales last for over a month! Not only that, but the prices keep going down. We are in the second part of rebajas now, which is more than 50 percent off. Why do we only have on day of major sales and Spain has a whole month?
- How it’s in the 50s and 60s right now and this is as cold as it gets. Everyone here seems to think it’s freezing — at least, that’s the impression I get with everyone in winter coats with scarves and even some earmuffs. Sorry, St. Louis, but your high was my low today.
- The Spanish mindset of “No pasa nada.” It means no worries… actually, it means, “Don’t worry about it,” but it’s basically the same thing. Everyone here is so much more relaxed about everything and I probably hear that phrase at least once a day here. No one is living in the past or seems to get overly worked up about anything because they all seem to just take life as it comes. I thought I broke the remote yesterday and my mom’s immediate response was, “No pasa nada.”
- Not only the cheap wine, but the cheap coffee. I’m one of those people who isn’t a big fan of going somewhere just to get coffee. That’s an additional $4–5 that I wouldn’t otherwise be spending. But here, to get either a glass of wine or cup of coffee I’m spending less than $2! It makes it way easier to enjoy all the little cafes that are on every corner.
So, obviously, there are some really great things about Spain. But there are some things I would change, too.
I don’t like…
- The plumbing. I would say it’s just at the house I’m living in if everyone wasn’t experiencing more or less the same thing. There is no such thing as being able to control the temperature. For example, I can take a burning hot shower, but heaven forbid I try to turn it down a little, because the alternative is freezing cold. The only in-between temperature I get is as it is changing from one to the other.
- How no one says “I’m sorry” or “Excuse me” when they bump into you on the street. They just keep walking, straight faced, like nothing happened. I really want to try to live like a local in every way I can, but this is one thing that is just going to have to make me stand out as a foreigner.
- How even though it isn’t very cold here, none of the houses have heat. So there is no getting away from that slightly chilly temperature that is outside. I am a perpetually cold person, so I have to wrap up in a couple of blankets inside to feel warm.
- Except when it comes to class, no one cares about being on time. I love the “no worries” mindset, but I draw the line here. Since I absolutely hate it when I’m running late and cause others to wait for me, this whole “being late is OK” thing is really hard for me to adjust to.
- Their Taco Bell is super expensive. Granted, I wasn’t planning on eating Taco Bell while in Spain anyway, but if I got a craving for it, I should be able to buy it with pocket change and not have to spend $10 on a burrito.
Thankfully, I think the good outweighs the bad. But I can’t help it, some of these things (mainly the showers) make me miss home a little bit more.
About the blogger
Kelly D. is studying abroad on the Universidad de Alicante: ALI Abroad program in Alicante, Spain.