Oh Spain, such a beautiful country that I am still not used to. It’s been over a month since I arrived and even though I am accustomed to being here and honestly didn’t really get home sick, there are some things in Spain I am still having difficulty getting used to. Here are a few of them.
Spanish time= slow time
Everyone in Spain takes their time. The Spanish people are frequently late or slow to do things, which for me has been a hard adjustment. I like to do things quickly and be fairly on time so transitioning into being more relaxed is difficult. I must admit, it is nice to know that sometimes I can take my time to get ready, but it still drives me crazy when my teacher is 15 minutes late to my 8:30 a.m. class.
Super Chill Customer Service
This lax lifestyle also translates into their customer service. When you go out to eat in Spain the waiters take their time getting to your table and giving you the check. This is very different than in the United States, where the waiters are very attentive and on top of things. This can also be frustrating when you are in a rush. Some waiters are even rude when you ask the to explain the menu, which was a huge change to me because I am used to the waiter always being friendly and approachable.
I think part of the reason for their subpar customer service is because in Spain you don’t tip the waiters, therefore they are not giving the customers special service because they are not trying to make an extra dollar.
Spanish food needs hot sauce
Since we’re on the topic of food, the Spanish food is amazing! Their paella, tapas and every other authentic Spanish food is terrific, the other food however not so much.
I never knew how much I loved hot sauce, corn tortillas and seasoning until I left the U.S. Everything here lacks an extra kick of flavor, whether it is salt, pepper or some sort of spice.
Whenever I go out to eat I order the spiciest thing on the menu to satisfy my craving and am disappointed when the food is mild. I deeply regret not bringing a bottle of Tapatío, but I never thought Spanish food would lack spices.
They eat super late
The people here also eat extremely late. Back home I eat breakfast around 8 a.m., lunch around noon and dinner between 6-7 p.m. The Spanish eat breakfast between 7-8 a.m. have lunch between 2-4 p.m. and eat dinner between 9-10 p.m. This eating gap is huge difference for me because I grew up being told eating after 8 p.m. was bad because your food doesn’t digest as well. I also get hungry really quickly so I cannot wait until 9 p.m. to eat dinner.
Siestas are life
Siestas are great and I wish every country would implement them. The siesta is taken after lunch and can last anywhere between 30 minutes to over an hour. I always take my siesta after I eat lunch during my three hour gap in between classes. After my nap I wake up rejuvenated and ready to conquer the world again. This is a custom I hope to bring back to the U.S. once I return.
Everything is closed on Sundays
This is another difference that has been very hard to adjust to. Most places, like grocery stores, boutiques, convenience stores and some restaurants are closed on Sundays because that day is reserved for God and Family. I think it is great how the Spanish people really value religion and are very family oriented, however it sucks when the nearest open grocery store is a mile away and you only have cereal to eat on a Sunday.
To someone like me who is always in a rush and likes to be punctual some of these differences might be a huge lifestyle change, these Spanish customs are teaching me some valuable lessons.
- Take your time, sometimes I can get the same results doing things slowly.
- Enjoy what is around me. Because I am usually on the go, I tend to rush through places, but since everyone is so much slower in Spain I have really learned to look around and enjoy every place I go.
- Never take your sleep for granted because it is very important.
One thing I will never get used to however, is not having hot sauce.
Emely Navarro is a journalism and Spanish double major. She is studying in Zaragoza, Spain for Spring semester 2017.