Some things I’ve noticed in my first month or so in Spain:
- I didn’t realize how much of a fixed routine Americans seem to require. Everyone seems to talk about how Spaniards are good about mixing work with leisure, but I didn’t realize how subconscious it all would be. I don’t notice it so much in how Spaniards act as I do in how I act differently from them. I keep trying to establish some kind of fixed daily routine here, and I find such routines to be less helpful here than they are in the US. Aside from school, I’m pretty free to improvise on most days. Going out for tapas isn’t restricted to the weekend, and loafing around can happen whenever. Plenty of hard work can happen too, it’s not “lazier” here really, it’s just approached with a different mindset.
- Linguistically, Spaniards exaggerate much less. (Rather, they exaggerate less.) When I speak in English, I tend to say something is very easy, very fun, much faster, etc. Here, modifiers like “much,” “more” and “very” are reserved for descriptions of truly exceptional qualities.
- Since Spain only emerged from its nationalist dictatorship about thirty years ago, there’s a huge generational gap in attitudes here. The older set is generally more politically and socially conservative, no longer influenced by Franco but more than anything influenced by the still state-funded Catholic church. Younger generations (I’d say under 40 to 50) seem to vary more in their views; some keep their traditional values, and many others have quickly moved to a more “European” lifestyle.
Overall, there seems to be a big cultural separation here between “traditional” and “modern” lives, and while they coexist, they seem to be pretty scared of each other as well. I haven’t been here long enough to really appreciate the nuances of it, but I’ve definitely noticed some similar deficiencies in understanding in the States as well.
- If my professors are to believed, the 1980s were a sort of “golden age” for Spanish pop music. While I can understand the claim (huge artistic outpouring after the downfall of authoritarian dictatorship), I simply cannot accept that the 1980s was a good decade for music, anywhere. I’m a pretty understanding guy, but drum machines and cheesy synths are where I have to draw the line.