Author: Kayla Doyle
Location: Granada, Spain
I’ve been in Spain for almost two months now and I’ve had a bit of time to reflect upon my experience thus far. I am currently living in the south of Spain in Granada, which has a different style of life than other parts of the country. This past weekend I traveled to Madrid and was able to distinguish differences between Andalucians (people from the southern parts of Spain) and Madrileños (people from Madrid). I was also able to differentiate Spain and the United States in regard to various aspects of each culture.
To start, in the south they have a much deeper accent than people in Madrid have. In Andalucía, the people slur a lot of their words together and shorten them, making it the most difficult accent to understand in Spain. People from Madrid even admit that they can’t understand southerners. It’s kind of like the accent southerners in the US have and the different slang words they use. Another difference between Andalucía and Madrid is the different way of life each lives. In Andalucía, they live the stereotypical life of relaxation and fiestas, and then comes work. Madrid lives a life that prioritizes work and school before vacations and relaxation.
Some things that are different in the Spanish culture than I am normally accustomed to in the United States are some of the little things that can sometimes go unnoticeable. For example, the paper here is longer than in the United States. I remember when my professor gave me a handout for the first time and I went to put it in my folder that I brought from the US, I was confused why it didn’t fit correctly inside. I then had that problem with other classes and realized the difference. Something small and insignificant made me curious to find other differences.
In Spain, coffee is a lot cheaper here. Given the portions are a lot smaller, the price is less than half of what I would normally pay for a drink at Starbucks in the US. Another thing is that Spaniards walk almost everywhere, they hardly use cars and some families don’t even own a car. The transportation system is very good in Spain and in most cities it is not necessary to drive places. Something that surprised me coming here was that when you go to a restaurant or out for tapas, the bill is all together, meaning you can’t pay separately. My friends and I always have to calculate how much each one of us owes and exchange whatever change we have to make it even. It sounds easy, until you have ten friends trying to pay for a two-euro coffee and everyone only has a twenty-euro bill, it gets kind of tricky.
A couple other small things that I thought were funny here is that there are always people with dogs walking on the streets, but it is very weird if you pet someone else’s dog on the street unlike in the US where people are a little more welcoming to that. Also, it is normal to invite a friend over to get together at your house, but in Spain it is not that way. It is said here that the house is only for sleeping and eating and the streets are where you get together with friends. This is one of the reasons why Spain is so lively at night.
In general, I enjoy things from both cultures and dislike certain things from each as well. In my opinion, Spain is a more socially driven culture as they frequently meet people in the street to get together. I do like walking here as well, so you can burn some of calories after eating a big meal made by your host mom. I do miss certain things from the US though. I miss iced coffee, being able to drive on my own, cooking whenever I want, and inviting friends over to my house. But don’t get me wrong, I am not ready to leave Spain yet, I still have two-and-a-half months left.