Year in Review: Biggest Cultural Differences

As THB is winding down, sniff sniff, I have decided that the remaining posts will be dedicated to overall reviews from my year living in Barcelona, from my favorites to my biggest personal changes to this post, on the biggest differences between life in Spain vs. life in America. But they won’t be boring, or at least I hope!

It’s been a wild ride, I’ll tell ya that, and for those who have been avid readers, I think you can vouch for the adventure I have had. And though it’s not coming to an end and I’ll be in Barcelona for at least another year, the first year will always be special and unforgettable.

Food: Ah, food, probably the hottest topic on THB. Ya won’t find any frozen yogurt with fresh fruit and mochi, Trader Joe’s goodies, or Tootsie Rolls here. No siree. Just the good ol’ sandwich that I put to rest months ago. Ok, maybe all of Barcelona has more than just sandwiches, but I miss the variety and the options I find in America. Just wait, Safeway, just wait.

Work schedules: Work, smoke 15 minutes, work, go for a coffee, work, take a two hour lunch, work, smoke, go home and then enjoy holiday after holiday, on top of 4-6 weeks of vacation. Rough, huh?

Smoking: Smoking is permitted almost everywhere and people take advantage of that flexibility. Despite warnings on the packages that smoking kills and despite images of people with holes in their necks, Spaniards are smoking fiends. From the streets to restaurants and bars to parks to even inside the metro (though it IS banned there), Spaniards are addicted!

Drying clothes: I’ll toot my own horn for a second. I think one of my funniest posts is on my fiasco getting accustomed to drying clothes al natural. I have yet to see a single dryer in this city, which is something most Americans see on a daily basis and while I thought I would hate, hate, hate it, I’ve grown to like it. At least clothes don’t fade or shrink!

Style: From Fashion Police to Fashion Police Round 2, it’s not been so easy to adapt to the style here. It can be hideous at times, but to integrate myself, I have tried to wear my college shirts and baseball hats a little less often. When I leave the house the majority of times though and look in the mirror before, I think, “Could I BE any more American?”

Language: Duh, but I had to slip it in. The “hi’s,” “how are you’s,” and “what’s up’s” are a thing of the past. Barcelona is an English-challenged city, which is ultimately good for me as an English teacher, so I leave my English at the door.

Transportation: Americans couldn’t compete even if they tried with the amount of motos on the streets here. They come in all colors and all sizes,  with all types of people driving them, in and out of traffic, on the sidewalks and even on the highway. Just one word from the wise to them though, it’s NOT cool to rev your engine!

Of course ya have the different architecture, the slower pace of life, the manual cars, etc. but the above sums up the differences for me pretty well. Some are bigger than others, but it’s been very interesting trying to adapt to this culture. I do love it though!


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