In Madrid, the EUSA director has an intercambio program that she organizes every other Tuesday at different locations throughout Madrid. The idea is to bring together locals who live in Spain with American students who are studying abroad so that people have a chance to practice their second language (Spanish/English). This was a very interesting experience because sitting down and talking with some Spanish natives was very enlightening with the conversations that I had with them.
It first started out with some very basic topics like where everyone was from etc. then later became more focused on some more substantial topics, one of which was views on homosexuality and gay marriage. We spoke about how homosexuality is perceived in our two countries and compared against the differences between the cities and for the most part everyone was in agreement that it was generally accepted and at this point in history is just something that was a part of basic normal life. There was some surprise with this since some of the Madrid people had thought that there was still a majority of places in the US that was opposed and that there was still a lot of debate and conflict over the subject.
Next came politics, more specifically Trump. When first asked about the current political situation in the US, all the Americans at the table gave out a sort of sigh or groan. We went on to explain how divided the country was and discussed more about the election and what the Trump campaign has done with his time in office. We talked about how in a lot of cases, for everyday Americans, talking about politics tends to be a hassle in general regardless of which candidate they voted for. This is very different in Spain for a couple reasons. First off, in Spain they love to talk about politics and second, they’re quite well versed in American Politics. They were eager to learn from actual citizens what they thought of the current political climate and we were able to explain in more detail some of the reasoning behind certain topics but for the most part we were ready to talk about something else. We basically just changed the focus to the politics in Spain, asking about their political system with the monarchs etc. With this it was easy to tell the difference in the eagerness to talk about the subject when compared to us Americans. They covered pretty much everything I expected and more, from the views of the different parties to who holds power as well as the corruption scandals from the recent past. Having this time to just sit down and converse with other people was very enlightening because outside of the host family and maybe a little bit with work, these types of conversations wouldn’t otherwise occur.