*Note: This post was first published on the blog I kept in 2011 while studying abroad
So this post is more or less about the things that have surprised me over the last few weeks. I wouldn’t exactly call it culture shock because I knew coming to Spain about a few of these differences. The ones I didn’t know about have been a bit of an inconvenience or a surprise but they’re differences I can certainly live with.
1) No forced air heat
My heat comes from a little radiator-type thing in one corner of my room that does little to heat up my room. I expected this coming to Spain since I was constantly cold the first time I came back in 2008. The trick is layering clothes and placing things you want warmer on the radiator (if it’s on). The building I’m in at la Universidad de Deusto is also not enclosed. Two courtyards sit in the middle of it and there are no walls separating the inside of the building from the outside. I only take off my coat when I’m in an actual classroom.
2) They eat so much food!
Again I expected this coming in. The meals are substantially larger, yet healthier, here than in the U.S.. I’ve always wondered about that since they don’t have the obesity problem we have. The biggest surprise for me, though, is that after the first week I found I needed that much food and that I’m almost constantly hungry. The reason why they eat so much is that they walk everywhere. If Americans walked even half as much as people do here in Spain I think the obesity problem would be on its way to being solved.
3) Everything here (on TV) is in Spanish but most of it is American
I hate dubbed over things. The lips don’t match with the voice and the voice doesn’t match with the body. However, everything on TV (or in the movie theater from what I hear) is dubbed into Spanish if that’s not the language it was filmed in. I’ve seen Morgan Freemen, Jack Nicholson and Alan Rickman all speak with another man’s voice which is rather distracting considering how distinct all of their real voices are. It turns out that there is a reason for the Spanish’s aversion to watching movies and TV shows with subtitles rather than dubs. During Francisco Franco’s regime he demanded that everything be dubbed into Spanish so he could understand it and know if his government was being criticized. If it was he just had them change the script. That tradition has continued (except for the changing of the script as far as I know).
4)People Don’t Say Excuse Me
In Nebraska we’re pretty polite people for the most part. We say please, we say thank you and we say excuse me. Not so here in Spain at least as far as excuse me goes. On the metro people don’t talk to people they don’t know, they simply push their way through when they need to get to the door.