5 Things I Learned in Less Than 5 Days in Spain

I’ve had rather a lot to learn in less than a week. I’ve never felt so naive or small. Also, I’ve never been this silent.

Everything is new- and I mean everything. There have been a lot of hills and valleys the last few days, and moments of extreme homesickness, especially in the mornings. My first day here I questioned my sanity. It’s less of a culture shock and more a realization. Despite months of preparation, you are never prepared for the moment you step off the plane, completely alone, and full of doubt. (Even though I’ve done this once before and, really, I should remember the feeling.)

It’s like re-wiring your brain to think a different way after sorting it all out the last twenty-four years. Different language, different people, different customs. It’s the most overwhelming thing I believe I’ve ever had to deal with.

But with all that comes a vast appreciation. For example, there is a Cathedral in the center of the city that was built through the 15th century. There are traditions I get to experience (San Mateo festival coming up here next week!) and wines I get to drink. And so much more I haven’t seen yet or done. So the history-buff and wino in me are pretty satisfied.

Here are my five things I learned in less than five days:

People don’t stop for cars here. It’s still something I’m having a hard time adjusting to. I continue to stop for oncoming traffic and have to run to catch up to the locals so I don’t look like a stupid american. Key word ‘look.’

Getting lost in a new city without a grasp on the language and no working phone is not a good idea, but you will survive. I’ve done it a number of times (being inept at directions in America…just imagine here.) Also, paper maps. Who knew?

You can have a drink at 9 am. No problema. They accept all kinds here. Not to mention you can drink for nothing. The average glass of wine is anywhere from ,80 to 1,7 and beer is 1,5, tops 2 euro for a glass of whatever, whenever. Happy hour is essentially all day. And I’ve been partaking in it, silently cursing D.C. prices and beginning to understand why Spaniards are happier than Americans. They don’t give you free water, but they give you free bread and cheap booze. And to that comment, everyone here has to be dehydrated because I never see anyone drinking water.

All the best laid plans can go wrong. I’ve learned that despite having intentions and a solid (seemingly solid) plan, things will not go as you wish them to. I arrived on a Friday and thought I would have Saturday and Sunday to hunt for an apartment (piso) but those days are for drinking and relaxing. Not desperately searching for a place to live. Having a time restraint is only keeping things more interesting, and anxiety levels high. I keep being reassured that it will be okay, and it is reassuring. Only I can’t help but think with my Western mind and rationalize that turning over and obtaining an apartment in two days would never happen in the states. Apparently, it happens here all the time.

I can live without air conditioning. I say that wishing I didn’t have to, of course. Just like in England, there are certain things we Americans take for granted that just aren’t a thing here. Dishwashers. Clothing dryers. Central air conditioning. Central heat. Ovens. (No, seriously, people use toaster ovens instead of ovens to cook.) Giant fridges. Giant freezers. Standing showers. It’s a strange list of essentials verse non-essentials, and in America we consider it all essential. Even cars. The public transport system has to be a thing over here because most people don’t drive cars. It’s very expensive. Gas is by the liter not the gallon. So complain about that, haha.

Today I must have walked what felt like ten miles exploring the city while attempting to figure out my apartment situation. I still don’t have a phone, so WhatsApp isn’t a thing for me yet. though apparently it’s absolutely necessary for obtaining a place to live. So I’ve been shamelessly abusing others here for their WhatsApp. Thank God for the kindness of strangers who quickly become friends.

Tonight I enjoyed something called croquetas. I also enjoyed a tortilla espaniola after attending a rather strange Dance Recital last night. My host asked if I might go since it would be dance and my desperate lack of Spanish wouldn’t be an issue. It was a bit…out there. Actually, it was really out there, haha.

This is a water fountain. A fountain for water. For you to drink. Also a lamp.

Tomorrow my apartment hunt continues as the days count down. I also hope to locate the mall (using my paper map!) and purchase a curling iron. It’s the little things.