50 Things I Learned Abroad (#30-26 Spain)

This post is part of a larger collection of the 50 Things I Learned Abroad after a year spent in Europe. Stay tuned for more.

Oh, Spain. Over my year away from the US of A, I called you home. You made me laugh. You made me cry. I probably didn’t appreciate you enough while we were together but now that we’re apart, I got nothing but love for you, baby. Here’s a few things I learned (and grew to love) about you.


#30 – Strike it like its hot.

We don’t strike much in the US but in Spain its a national pastime. You know its ubiquitous when you’re doing an English exercise with a second grader asking them to use their imagination to respond to a question like “Why didn’t you come to school yesterday?” and the response is “because I went on strike”. The teachers went on strike and we watched Disney movies. The metro went on strike and I was a couple hours late for work. One day everyone went on strike (yeah, everyone). Striking is a way of life. Though I really don’t know how effective it is, at least they are expressing their grievances. As one Spaniard inquired, “Your college tuitions are ridiculous. Why don’t you all go on strike?” Yeah, why don’t we?


#29 – Spaniards will slap you right in your face.

I was once on the metro when a young girl tried to reach her hand in someone’s purse to pickpocket her. A innocuous-looking gentleman noticed the transgression and swiftly administered a slap of shame right across the girl’s face. She looked stunned for a moment but quickly got it together and started clawing at him like an angry cat. This is when I stepped in (because I’m a hero, guys) and tried to break this mess up. Luckily the metro doors opened and closed ending the fight as the girl departed the car. At my school, students slapped each other in the face sometimes as the ultimate insult or just as a joke. Americans aren’t so big on the face slapping for some reason but I kinda dig it. Its dramatic and passionate with less of the posturing and brute hostility of a punch.

#28 – Spaniards love Spain.

I’m sure its not true in some more patriotic circles but many people I know, especially Americans abroad, love to complain about the US. “Its ugly, materialistic, unhealthy, boring… pretty much anywhere else is so much better, amirite?” . Spaniards seem not to fall into this trap. They love Spain! Who has the best food? Spain! Where are you going on vacation? I’m staying in Spain! We could use a bit of that spirit. The US has some cool stuff too, don’t forget.


#27 – Vosotros isn’t the only difference between Spain Spanish and Latin American Spanish.

When I was taught Spanish in school, they briefly mentioned vosotros and left it at that. The differences between Spain’s Spanish and Latin America’s though are many. I’ve heard Spaniards say the Spanish spoken in other countries sounds outdated. As the guy in a cafe told me when I tried to order jugo (juice), “only my grandmother would call it that” (its zumo, ok?).


#26 – They have a Tooth Rat instead of a Tooth Fairy.  


Have you learned anything about Spain that surprised you? 


5 thoughts on “50 Things I Learned Abroad (#30-26 Spain)

  1. I swear, every Spaniard I´ve ever asked always says that Spanish food is the best, even those that are well traveled. I figure it might be because of nostalgic/emotional reasons. I mean, Spanish food has it´s stand out dishes, but I´d never say it was my favourite.

  2. I think Spaniards do love parts of Spain, but then they’re always talking about negative things and commenting like, “Así va España.” But they do tend to love their food above all else. I can maybe get Mario to admit that Italian food is right up there. There’s a man who loves his pizza and pasta and even refers to basil as “basílico” when it’s albahaca in Spanish. :)

    1. Oh definitely! I don’t think Spaniards won’t criticize Spain but I think at the heart they love it. I’ve heard many Americans say they’d love to pack up and move out of the US forever, but I’ve never heard a Spanish person say that (though it could be that they just won’t confess that to me!). Maybe it says more about the US than Spain though haha.

      1. Ah yeah, I get what you mean. Mario is one of the few Spaniards I know who is willing to do so. (Thank goodness!)

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