| Sign you're a tourist in Spain: wearing
the bull-fighting cape like a princess.
Guess I still have some
American in me after all.
They warned us about culture shock before we got here. Then again when we got here. We knew we’d go through the phases of adjusting to a new culture. Now that I’ve been in Spain for over two months there are some things that have started to rub off on my. My host mom sometimes jokes with me, saying I’m going to go home a Spaniard. It got me thinking about the cultural differences between Spain and the United States. In order to help explain these differences to my friends and family back home, I decided to make a list of the Spanish habits I’ve picked up in the last three months.
- Besos. In Spain, everyone says hello and goodbye by giving kisses on the cheek. It’s how you introduce yourself to new people and I have started to do it without thinking. There goes all those years of my parents teaching not to talk to strangers. Now I kiss them. It’s so natural feeling that I’m worried I’ll have to constantly remind myself when I get back to America.
- Siestas. It’s true, Spaniards take naps every day. Stores close down during the middle of the day and people stay in their houses to rest. They’re not three hours long (usually) but they are more like a power for 30 minutes after lunch (which is what the experts recommend apparently). It’s just one of the ways that the culture feels more relaxed here. I am still busy here, but it just doesn’t feel as stressful as stressful as it did in the United States. There’s a lot to do but there’s no rush.
- Eating schedule. If you eat lunch before 2 p.m. here people will look at you a little funny. Spaniards like to cram a lot of stuff in before lunch, take a siesta, get some more work and and eat a late dinner between 9 and 10 (another reason siestas are so important in Spain is because we stay up a lot later every night). I actually love this schedule and plan on keeping it up even after study abroad.
- Interrupting each other. I grew up learning that interrupting people is rude and I shouldn’t do it. In Spain, however, it’s a cultural norm. It’s how you show you’re interested in the conversation. Interrupting shows you’re so excited about what’s being said you can’t wait to add your two cents to it. So, when I interrupt you, you could pretty much take it as a compliment because it means you’re interesting.
- Obsession with olive oil. There’s no such thing as too much olive oil. It goes with everything too. Put it on bread, in salads, on pizza. You name it, it can be improved by adding olive oil. It’s healthier than vegetable oil. It doesn’t make food greasy, just better.
| These olive trees are just outside of Granada, a
short walk from my apartment, but they're pretty
much all over Spain.
These are just a few of the new habits I’ve picked up in Spain. It’s cool to look back and see how these habits were once so strange and uncomfortable to me. I guess that’s a sign I’m recovering from the culture shock.
Amber Johnson is the Fall 2014 CEA MOJO in Granada, Spain. She is currently a junior at Colorado State University.
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