La Vida Española

Lindsey Spanner is a  sophomore studying Communication Studies and Spanish while also  pursuing the Writing Certificate. Follow her travels as she visits Toledo, Spain for 10 weeks during Spring Quarter.  She can also be found on Twitter, @ListenToLindsey.

I am here in Spain not only to study the language but also to study the culture.  I have learned a lot in the past five weeks about the Spanish way of life by living with a Spanish host family.  While I had learned about some of the differences between the Spanish lifestyle and the American one before departing, some of what I have encountered here has surprised me.  Nonetheless, I am adapting well to the Spanish way of life, and even like some of the Spanish customs better than their American counterparts!

Here are a few examples of differences between the Spanish lifestyle and the American lifestyle:

  • Spaniards are very energy conscious.  The price of electricity in Spain is very high, and according to the news it is only going to continue to rise.  Thus, Spaniards are sure to turn off all lights before they leave a room, and they try to utilize all of the natural light they can.  Windows and doors are often open during the day to let as much natural light in as possible so as not to use electricity unnecessarily.Image

The windows surrounding this courtyard are a great source of natural light into the hallways of my house, and thus are almost always open during the day.

  • Spaniards never go barefoot.  I have yet to see a member of my host family walking around the house without something on their feet.  However, they never wear just socks and seldom walk around in their shoes.  Instead, it is customary in Spain for each person to have a pair of slippers that they wear around the house each day.  This is a great way to sort of leave the outside world behind and feel comfortable and at ease in your own home.
  • Spanish time is different from Bobcat time.  In Athens we always joke that students and staff run on “Bobcat time,” meaning that we show up at 10 minutes after the hour for events since that is when our classes start.  However, Spaniards run much later than this!  The normal lunch time is between 2 -4 p.m., while dinner time is anywhere from 8:30-11:30 p.m.  When going out for the night Spaniards don’t visit the bars until 10 or 11 p.m., and it is normal to stay out until 5 or 6 in the morning.Image

Representing OHIO U on the beaches of Barcelona!

  • There is no such thing as an appetizer.  While you will often be served bread before your meal, if you want to order something small off of the menu then you need to look under “tapas.”  Tapas are small portions of food that are usually served free with the purchase of an alcoholic beverage.  There are certain dishes that are almost always available as tapas.  Rumored to have started because the government wanted something to deter citizens from getting drunk quickly, tapas are a social event and a great way to catch up with friends.  Spaniards either go out for tapas before dinner or after dinner, but never for dinner itself.Image

While this sign from a restaurant in Madrid obviously caters to English-speaking tourists, it shows that tapas are almost always free with the purchase of a drink!

While I’m not sure if always wearing slippers around the house would catch on, I think tapas could be a big hit in Athens!

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