I spent this past weekend in the south of Spain in Seville! The direct train ride on Ave was pretty expensive but definitely worth it since it saved me a lot of travel time. The train was only about two and a half hours, so I was able to have the rest of my day to spend in the city. My coworkers had warned me that it is hot at this time of year in the South, and they were definitely right. I burn pretty easy, so sunscreen was a necessity over the weekend. Saturday night was my first time staying in a hostel, and it was a pretty cool experience. Seville is absolutely gorgeous, and I happened to be in the city during the wedding of the Real Madrid team captain. I got to see David Beckham before he entered the cathedral for the service. It is really easy to travel out of Madrid to different cities on the weekend. Spain has so many beautiful places to visit. It is also exciting to have fun weekend travel plans to look forward to during the work week.
Overall, I feel that I have been able to adapt well to a lot of Spain’s cultural differences. I may not agree with their timing of meals, but I am now officially used to eating lunch at 2:00pm and dinner at 9:00pm. I also have adapted to the more relaxed way of life and have become more accustomed to take my time when going from location to location. No one here is every in a rush, unless it’s to catch the metro. I had to learned that one the hard way when I was taken down by a running man because I was in his way.
With everything I have adapted to, there are still many parts of the culture that I struggle to comprehend and assimilate to. Even though I have learned to stop rushing from place to place, I still cannot adapt to the way the service in restaurants works. Once you order, the servers simply leave you and your party alone unless you call them over. It is nice not to feel rushed, but it’s almost impossible to get the check if you are in a hurry to go somewhere else. They will not bring you the check unless you track down the server and ask them for it. Also, when you ask for the check you don’t say, “could I have the check please?” Instead, people in Spain say, “Give me the check.” I struggle to say da me la cuenta because I feel like it’s rude, but it’s not here! I am Still working on that one. In the Spanish culture, splitting checks is almost never a thing. Everything is together, which can get very frustrating when the ATM only gives everyone in your group large bills. Venmo has been one of my best friends for the duration of this trip.
I normally drink an absurd amount of coffee on a daily basis. When I arrived in Spain and ordered my first coffee, I did not expect to receive a tiny little cup with about two sips worth of coffee. I have since learned that they do coffee differently here. They drink it in smaller amounts, only with normal milk, and never with ice. They also typically drink it in the restaurant instead of getting it to go. If I want an iced coffee with almond milk to go, I have to find a Starbucks because they are the only place that I can order ice in my coffee without getting odd looks. I don’t want to assimilate to this custom because I love my coffee and I like it with almond milk, but for two months I can adapt a little bit. However, I do look forward to ordering a cold brew when I return to the States.
I am having a hard time understanding why the people in Spain celebrate birthdays the way that they do. If it’s your birthday in the United States, people buy you your coffee for the day, bring you a cake to work, and take you out to dinner or for drinks at night. On your birthday in Spain, the birthday girl or boy brings in treats for the office instead. The birthday girl or boy also is the one that invites out everyone for a celebration. The worst part of all, since you invited them out for your birthday YOU are the one that has to pay for everyone. I am not sure if I will every understand this custom, but I know one thing for sure is that you will not catch me in Spain on my birthday.