This afternoon my host dad (Jorge) asked me – Lindsey, what are the differences between Spain and America. I’ve had some time to think about this as this is my second go round in Espana (what can I say I love the Spanish)
The truth is there are waaaaay too many to count, but in an attempt to humor him and myself for that matter I decided to compile a short, but I think very accurate list.
- Structure. I grew up in a household where fast food was food group and the car was my kitchen. It didn’t matter where we were, what time it was or what the food was. We ate when we wanted, where we wanted and what we wanted. Here is a little different.
Pasta for dinner? No. Hamburgers for lunch? don’t even ask. Dinner at 6? you must be joking. The structure is intense. Soups, rice and pasta are to had for lunch. Burgers and salads for dinner. For snack (aka America’s lunchtime) fruit. I eat a small sandwich and still get weird looks from the teachers. One time I dared to bring pasta and it seemed like the pueblo was going to implode.
I. cant. stand. it.
For a fully grown lady (I say that only because I pay all my own bills, but by no means am I an adult) it’s extremely frustrating. If I want pizza for breakfast lemme have it, pasta at noon, take a chill pill, pero bueno. I digress.
The only good burger in all of Spain
Also what’s with always setting the table? I literally say down to eat solo style and the mesa was set to a tea, bread, water, glasses, forks and knives. It’s just not necessary and seems like a waste of energy.
2. The Food. Now I know a lot of people say “Omg Lindsey the food in Spain is so good!”. To which I respond, what do you think Spanish food is? Paella? yes, for special occasions – Birthdays, Holidays, and the occasionally visitor – so we’re talking 3-4 times a year. What else you got? Tapas? Ok good, so exactly what do you think is on your tapas? If you guess sardines, sausages, boiled eggs, octopus, morcilla (google it) and tuna, then you are in fact correct. They are, how do I say this gently, not all their cracked up to be. And just like with any other food, if you eat it everyday without change you will get sick of it. But Lindsey, what about the olive oil? Yes they do cook with a lot of olive oil, but not in a good way, my fish, hamburgers, vegetables and everything else is literally boiled in olive oil and let me tell you that shit is not pleasant. Unlike the grease in America that be blot of or that dries, olive oil does not, it pools into your plate, on the crevasses of your meat and especially in your skin. Greasy much? thank you, yes I am. Like really? Me muero.
My friends and I regularly sit down at our dinner tables only to find that our main course for the night is a plate of sausages, pig lips, a bowl of broccoli and other creations. Let me just tell you right now, that when I talk to you and I saw I miss American food don’t you dare judge me. Not until you’ve eaten chorizo everyday for 3 months.
Take a little guess at what this delicacy is.
3. Laundry. Like most European countries, the Spanish don’t necessarily use dryers, so our clothes are set out on racks or other things to dry. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind this at all, except when I do. After living in New York for several year and having to pay for my laundry I’ve learned to stretch things pretty far. This means doing laundry about once a month, so when I need clothes I need them like, yesterday. I don’t have time to wait 2 days for my underwear to dry Ineedthemlikenow. Another fun fact, because clothes aren’t always dried in a dryer they can get a little crispy so they like to use something I refer to as suavizante aka fabric softener aka natures perfume. Unlike the fabric softener of the States this shit reeks, it gets into every pore, invades every strand of clothing you own every hair on your body. It’s strong. Don’t want to use suavizante? Fine, enjoy your crispy pants! Let me know how it feels like have paper cuts on your legs 😀
Can’t live without it.
4. El Rollo. The culture of going out here is totally different than in America. We like shots, large glasses of wine, and to party. However, the idea here is completely different. If you try to drink 3 glasses of wine here like you do in America let me tell you, you will in fact regret it. Not only is the wine 3948903 stronger here but people will think you actually have a drinking problem. No one here drinks to get drunk, but rather to enjoy themselves. Hence why they stay out until the sun rises versus until they pass out. American’s take note. Also la marcha doesn’t end when you’re 30, 40 or even 50. Kids at the bar? no problem, staying out until sunrise at 40? totally acceptable, drinking everyday during descanso, lunch and dinner? maybe not so much, but I’m willing to take one for the team and give it a try.
5. Time. Now I feel like this should’ve been first but this is what I’ve had the most trouble with (living in New York and all) I’m usually always in a rush. But here no pasa nada. People don’t rush, lunch takes 2-3 hours (yes please) dinner the same, and going out to eat at a restaurant? don’t even attempt it if you’re in a rush. It’s just not worth it. I wake up as late as possible, grab breakfast to go (another thing they don’t get). Stuff my face during descanso and lunch (we don’t eat dinner until 9:30 most days) and siesta. That’s fucking right, I siesta every.single.day. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop. It’s honestly something we should bring back to the U.S. I feel better, I treat everyone around me better. Todo esta bien.
That being said, I love Spain, the people, the food, the lifestyle everything, BUT I also am super homesick, miss American food and most of all I miss butter.
Follow along as I begin my travels in Spain!!! (and read more of my stuff at 20some.com)
We’ve all been there, sitting in your office, scrolling through Instagram, BuzzFeed, Elite Daily and viewing picture after picture of beautiful people on the beaches of Italy, coliseums of Greece, or the luxurious streets of Paris. The headlines are screaming out at you – “I quit my job to travel! Here’s how I did it” (insert photo of two girls holding up a peace sign with some ninth Wonder of the World in the background). You think, “Wow this can be me too!”
You eagerly open up the article and begin reading, again thinking “Wow, I can totally do this.”
Here’s how they usually go:
“All it takes is a ton of motivation, a strong will and my parents’ credit card! LOL. We searched kayak.com until we found a great deal! Packed a bag and bought a one-way ticket, from there we worked odd jobs (and blogged along the way) and we were able to travel for one year! No steady job! It hasn’t always been easy but we did it!!”
Cool. I’ve basically learned nothing from this article and I still think it’s virtually impossible to quit my job and travel. So, I’m just going to go back to pretending that I understand excel and actually listen during meetings.
Well, despite these unhelpful resources, I retained the desire to quit my job and live abroad. And I’m here to tell you that, after a lot of my own research and preparation, I’m actually about to do it. But unlike these girls on Instagram who sell tea for a living, I’m a real life person with bills and a dad who will not be letting me use his credit card. I’m also here to tell you that it is possible no matter who you are, but it does take a lot if planning, discipline, and motivation (insert peace sign photo here). Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Make the decision and start planning.
My planning actually began over a year ago. Last summer, I decided that I wanted to travel, spend all my money, then come back to “real life” and get my shit together. So, I started saving a little bit of money to do just that. At this point I had no idea what I was going to do or for how long, but my ideal timeline was three months.
After spending a year abroad in Spain during high school, I knew I wanted to go back. I started researching programs that would allow me to go to Spain for three months (since you only need a tourist visa if you are going to a country for this amount of time). I stumbled upon CIEE — a program that a few of my friends had done after high school. There was a 3-month volunteer program for people right outside of Madrid that allows you to stay with a family and volunteer to teach English at a local school! (aka major money saver.)
I decided this was the program for me, since I definitely want to brush up on my Spanish and start out with a solid home base before my travels. As anyone who has traveled abroad before can tell you, it’s pretty easy to move around Europe once you get there. So I figured I would do the program, then spend maybe a month or two traveling.
Solid plan right!? Maybe. I would still basically be without work for 3 to 5 months with little to no income as I mentioned before. So that brings me to…
Step 2: Start REALLY saving money.
Even if you don’t know where you want to go, or for how long, or have any solid plans in mind for a program or a path of travel, start saving $100 – $200 per paycheck, any bonuses, tax returns, whatever — just save, save, save. When you have a solid cushion in your savings, purchasing a one-way plane ticket for $400 doesn’t seem quite so scary.
Now, in lieu of writing a 15-page essay of what I did and how I did it, I’ll treat this more like a guide (and advice column of course) as I go and learn how you all can make it work, too. I’m about a month away from my departure date, so things are getting more real than ever, but I’m also here to tell you that anyone can do it.
If you’re feeling the itch, don’t scratch it by going out and shopping. Save your money. Sure it’s hard, you might not get to accept all those brunch invitations or eat out every weekend, but I’m sure when you’re enjoying a croissant in the Swiss Alps (why not?), you’ll be glad you didn’t try to drink 15 mimosas in 30 minutes with your six drunkest, closest friends.