Cultural Differences and Impressions
Life in Europe is different than life in the United States and after my month long abroad experience in Spain, I was able to live with and learn from this particular culture.
Finally we made it to Alicante after flights from Cincinnati to Charlotte, then From Charlotte to Madrid, and Finally Madrid to Alicante. I was definitely feeling nervous since I had previously never been to Europe and although I continued to notice major cultural differences, I also continued to feel more comfortable as time went on.
Pictured above was the view from our flat style apartment. In the distance you can see what looks like a big mountain, but in reality it is a the Santa Barbara Caste (el Castillo de Santa Barbara). As if that view wasn’t spectacular enough, our flatmates were all extremely helpful and nice. In addition to that, we were walking distance to the beach and la plaza de los luceros (downtown).
As Classes started, I began notice some major differences between the U.S. and Spain. The first thing I noticed was how different transportation worked there; In the U.S. almost everyone has access to a vehicle and use this vehicle each and every day to get around. In Spain, there are underground parking garages and some people do drive (like maniacs) but the majority of people rely on public transportation to get from point A to point B. So, as the Spaniards did, my classmates and I traveled to class every day via bus or TRAM.
The next difference that I noticed pertained to the time people ate and went to sleep. As you all know, In the U.S. we eat breakfast around 8:00-9:00AM, lunch around 12:00PM, and dinner around 6:00 PM. This varies greatly from the way things work in Spain. Similar to the U.S. breakfast is eaten 7:00-9:00 AM but many people eat lightly or skip this meal all together. At around 10:30-11:00 AM it is almuerzo (snack) time for those who may have an empty stomach. It isn’t until 2:00-3:30 PM that La Comida (lunch) is eaten and it is ordinarily the biggest meal of the day. But it’s important to make sure restaurants are open at this time since many restaurants close for the daily Siesta time. Merienda (Mid-afternoon snack) is sometimes eaten around 5:30-7:30 PM and during Merienda, many times churros y chocolate are a favorite. It isn’t until 8:30-11:00 PM that Tapas and Dinner are traditionally eaten. It really surprised me to see people of all ages sitting at chairs and benches along la Explanda de España socializing into late hours of the night.
The way of life in Spain is much different than the way of life here in the United States. Whether it be the food, the transportation, the people, or just the overall way of life, words can not express the impact this experience has had on me. Until I can make it back to Alicante again in the future, I will draw from the invaluable lessons I learned during my summer abroad.