Sometimes I forget that I live in a foreign country.
I´ve been here almost 6 whole months, and I´m basically adjusted to all of the oddities of Spain. I know doing anything will take forever, to pick up odds and ends at a ¨Chino¨ shop even though the politically incorrect nature of that word still irks me, and I see ¨regulars¨ on my morning work commute Monday through Thursday.
Here are some things I´ve adjusted to, but will definitely seem abnormal to most:
·Boxed milk. This one struck me as bizarre when I studied abroad in Barcelona in 2009. Milk is sold unrefrigerated at supermarkets, in boxes. Needless to say you refrigerate it once it is opened, but before that it is stored in a cabinet or wherever, warm. Weird, but fine.
·Gypsies. My mom used to tell me that the word ¨gypsy¨ was derogatory, but I always thought gypsies were fictional – like Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I never realized that word is used to classify Romanian immigrants, and it is not a pleasant term at all. Teachers will use ¨he is a gypsy¨ to explain why one student is slower than the rest. In a newspaper article I read this morning, a band of ¨gitanas¨ were arrested for violence against women. The racism in Spain is something that still catches me off guard.
·Free press. The most widely read newspapers in Spain are those that are handed out free on the metro. I try to grab one each day – either 20 Minutes, ADN, or Qué to catch up on world and local news. The quality of the reporting is pretty good, and I like the fact that they provide essential worlds news as well as more local items for Madrileños (a new section of metro line 2 opened at 15:00 yesterday, for example). It´s a blend of the New York Times and The Acorn, and it´s free.
·Less smoke. On January 2, a law was passed outlawing smoke in bars and clubs in Spain. While I don´t necessarily realize the lack of smoke while I am out, the fact I don´t come home from dinner or a night out reeking of cigarettes is a major plus for this country. And people assume everyone in Europe smokes…
· Spanish slang. I´ve picked up some great terms besides just ¨joder.¨I learned that an operación gamba is the Spanish equivalent of a ¨butter face¨ and that me jode… is the equivalent for ¨it sucks.¨
What is the weirdest thing about Spain that you´ve encountered?