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Published on Agosto 13th, 2012 | by Visto en Forocoches


La opinión de un estudiante americano sobre España.

Quería compartir con vosotros lo que dice el título del tema, hace unas semanas, hice de guía (a duras penas) a un “amigo” americano llamado John, que conocí en interpals, el chico fue muy simpático, nada que objetar. Un amante de su país, y del american way of life. Los textos que os voy a poner están en inglés y quizás a veces pueden ser algo largos. Si os interesa, los ire cogiendo de su blog, para que podáis leerlos. Un saludo.

Day 9, Mondays Are Still Mondays

So back to the “work week.” Back to class until Friday, which isn’t too bad because my new language class is significantly easier. Just some reviewing on my own today should get me back up to speed. Now that I’ve been in this country for over a week, I’m going to share two lists with you – one being things I like about the Spanish culture, and the other being things I don’t. Here it goes – The Not-Yet-Totally-Official John Fierst Spanish Culture Guide.

1. The Siesta – duh, everyone likes taking a nap in the middle of the day. It’s great to be able to go home after class, eat lunch, and just sleep for an hour. Although traditionally the siesta is only roughly 30 minutes, an American sized siesta may last an hour or more.
2. The climate – it’s perfect. 80s and minuscule humidity. No air conditioning really needed. Indiana will literally be hell by comparison. My accommodations here without climate control here trump the sweaty upstairs in my house in Jasper, which sucks not only by comparison, but in general. I’ll probably be sleeping in the basement when I get home.
3. The classes – I love these professors! They’re animated and really great. Spanish is definitely a nice break from the biology and chemistry classes of the world. I’ll miss the lack of pressure to study here in Spain as opposed to other classes at IUPUI, because Spanish comes pretty naturally.
4. Walking – the city of Salamanca is really walkable, so that’s really convenient. You really could get by without a car here (which my host family does).
5. You’re never carded! I’ve never had to show ID to buy a drink or get into a bar. Sweet.

1. No free refills and no separate checks – every drink you order is either canned or in a glass bottle. They’re expensive and fountain drinks are nowhere to be found (except McDonald’s). I would do anything for a Big Swig of Mtn Dew. And when 15 of us IU students go out to eat, we all get one bill. They don’t split it per person, which makes for a good 10 minutes of everyone figuring out what he or she ordered and people with change pay first so people without change can make it at the end. Super annoying. I really can’t understand why fountain drinks and split checks don’t exist here.
2. The smoking – a lot more people smoke here, and they couldn’t give two shits if you don’t or don’t want to breathe their smoke.
3. Not having a car – you’re at the mercy of bus and train tickets. No more leaving whenever you want on your own schedule in your own vehicle. I’d like to be able to drive to the WalMart-sized store at the edge of town rather than walk an hour or so round trip.
4. Showers – the Spaniards don’t really place importance on personal hygiene like we do. Showers are roughly 5-6 minutes long, anything longer isn’t good. You also suffer from random water temperature changes in a shower made for a child/dwarf/elf. Nasty content ahead: one of my family members definitely did some business in the bathroom this morning and left without washing his or her hands. I only know this because the plumbing of the bathroom backs up to my bedroom wall. That’s really disgusting, and now I’m going to be buying an ethanol-based hand sanitizer.
5. Nightlife – the Spaniards literally just stay out until the sun comes up every night. It’s kind of inconvenient because drink specials won’t start until ridiculously late, and I actually like to sleep at night.
6. The cash-based way of paying – all they use here is cash. Some bigger places have card machines, but otherwise, cash is the way to go. I am so used to swiping my debit or credit card literally everywhere in US, and switching to cash is just annoying.

Ok, so there it is. My opinions of the culture thus far. To be honest, I just want that 32 oz. fountain drink. I guess I’m a total soda addict, and it’s really showing in a country where a soft drink is 12 oz. at most. I just finished lunch, and we had a really interesting dish. It was like spaghetti, but instead of pasta, it was type of bean with a pasta-like appearance. So much fiber. Also, I’m getting better at understanding people speak on TV. The TV is a member of the Spanish home – it’s always to be watched during every meal, quite the contrary to traditional American meal etiquette. So I’ve gotten my fair share of listening not only with actual people but with broadcasters and narrators on TV.

This afternoon, I signed up for a day trip to Toledo! It’s through the university and much less expensive than the 3 day Portugal trip. I’m also planning to go to Segovia on Sunday, although that won’t be through USAL. (On a side note, my debit card keeps being decline everywhere I go except ATMs, even though I told my bank in person that I’d be here, AND my mom called them when it wasn’t working last week. Seriously German American?!?! This is beyond frustrating. I don’t want to have to resort to my credit card, but I will if this crap continues. And German American will be hearing about this in writing from me if I can’t resolve the issue today or tomorrow. Update: German American doesn’t allow signature-based transactions in Spain due to the high rate of fraud. I can only use it in places where I swipe the card myself and enter my pin – which is why it was just working at the ATM. Looks like I’ll be using cash only.) After getting the ticket for the trip, I ran into some students from my IU group and we did some wandering. We went into a store and, following the “rebajas” (sales), I found a winter jacket/coat half off – only 24 Euros. I liked it, and it was a good price. Plus no one else will have anything like it since it was purchased in Spain! Then I made a trip to the grocery store where I ran into MORE IU students (I love Salamanca – like a small town, only way better.) and got some snacks and hand sanitizer after the bathroom escapade this morning. Come to find out, others’ hosts use the “servicios” without washing their hands.

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