1. The social rules for personal space are veddddy different. You will often be the freaked out American constantly taking a few steps back from the person talking to you, because they will be allll up in your grill. Truth.
2. Also. If you are on the metro or bus, you will probably be smashed into a corner because Spaniards love to stand right in front of you. I suppose this goes with the personal space thing. Give me room to breatheeeee.
3. Learning Spanish is really hard (for me). There’s a reason why I hated my Spanish classes in high school and college. I thought that moving here meant I would magically be able to speak it by being surrounded by it at all times. Ha. Wrong! It doesn’t help that I’m lazy and would rather choose my bed than meeting for an intercambio every night. Oops.
4. Anytime you ask for a tapa or dish “sin carne” (without meat), you will more than likely get tuna and eggs. A “vegetarian” sandwich or salad? So boring. To be fair, tuna and eggs are typical vegetarian fare, but in general, Spaniards just do not understand vegetarians.
5. If you are living in Madrid for more than a month, chances are that you will be directly affected by a protest or a strike. Metro strikes are terrible, but street cleaning strikes are the worst. Spanish government, get your crap together and help out your citizens a bit more!
6. Spaniards love to mix Fanta limon into their drinks, and now so do I. Sangria? Totally a touristy thing. Sometimes you’ll see Spaniards order it if they are feeling fancy, but more than likely they will order “tinto de verano,” red table wine mixed with Fanta limon and poured over ice. They also really love shandy. Most tables will have a mix of normal cerveza and claritas (half beer, half Fanta limon).
7. Spanish bread is ADDICTING. I could easily go through an entire loaf in one day, but I have learned how to practice self-control. AKA… avoid the bakeries at all costs.
8. While we all know that waiter service in restaurants is very different in Spain than it is in the States, there is something else worth noting about the differences between the two cultures. When a restaurant says that lunch hours close at 4, it means that they close at like… 3:45. I have been heartbroken so many times upon getting to a restaurant at 3:45 and being all excited for FOODZOMG like, “Somos tres,” and then being looked at blankly and being told that the kitchen is closed until dinner. I guess it is the American way to want to squeeze every last penny out of as many customers as they can, but I know you can walk into a restaurant AT CLOSING and you will still be served. Lesigh.
9. On the other hand, I actually quite enjoy the nonchalant serving attitude here. You need another drink? You want the bill? Flag down the waiter when necessary, and enjoy your uninterrupted conversation. The first “reverse culture shock” I had was at a restaurant over the summer while I was home. It seemed like the waiter came up to our table every 10 minutes! Sheesh
10. Riding the train is the best thing everrrr. If you catch the RENFE (Spanish national train service) on a good day, you can get first class and business class tickets for just a little bit more money than the general seats. Not only is there a crazy amount of leg room, a normal sized bathroom to use, and the ability to get up and walk around as much as you want, but you also get free, unlimited wine, beer, liquor, and other beverages, as well as a meal! Like a bo$$.
Do you live in Spain? Have you experienced any of these?