It's said that after two weeks of being in a foreign country, the "honeymoon" stage fades a little and culture shock sets in deeper. Well, Tuesday marked two weeks for me (crazy!), and I have to say I still haven't experienced much culture shock!
That being said, I'm definitely not in America anymore. Though obviously Spain and America share a lot of similarities, especially in the city, both being "westernized" and developed nations, there are some stark differences too. However, I'm loving finding these out and attempting to completely engross myself in the Spanish culture. Below is just a sampling of a few of the different customs I've noticed thus far -
Yep, I said it.
Whenever you meet someone here, before you even find out their name, they're kissing you on both cheeks. That is also the common greeting (and farewell) between friends. At first this startled me a little, but once I learned it was expected and common, I warmed up to it. Now I love it!
People here don't mess around when it comes to their espresso. This is definitely an area where I fit in well! However, I have never once seen a person carrying around a coffee mug or a to-go cup. It's customary to sit down and take espresso or cafe con leche at a "cafeteria," it's never something to be rushed around the city with. I've even seen a "walk-up" window/counter, where you walk up, down your shot of espresso, then keep going on with your day!
My host parents think I'm crazy if I go around the house barefoot. This has been an adjustment for me- I always got in trouble at home if I was wearing my shoes inside! But I'm getting better at remembering to always at least have flipflops on.
I've experienced the customary European dinner time at like 10pm before, but here all the meal times are different. Also, there are five meals!
It's a little bit confusing, but breakfast is a smallish meal consisting mostly of coffee and some sort of toast (at least in my house). Then comes almuerzo (which literally means lunch in Hispanic countries, but not here), which is a snack taken mid-morning. Next is "la comida" (literally is translated as "food" but actually signifies a certain meal in Spain), which is the main meal of the day served between 2-3. There is often a merienda in the late afternoon (another light snack), then cena sometime between 8 and 10. I still generally only eat three meals a day, but I actually like the pace of the day better in regards to eating!
Okay, everyone knows what this is. But seriously, shops, restaurants, and entire neighborhoods shut down between 2 and 5:30. It's great. (and then consequently people are out in the streets until 5am)
This is only a sampling of some of the cultural differences between life in the States and life here in Spain I've observed thus far, and it serves to simply further my understanding of how diverse and beautiful this world really is!