1. The use of water
In Spain, water is used very differently. When taking a shower, you do not let the water run for the entire time; it is only used to get wet and rinse off. It is not offered for free at meals and is actually more expensive to purchase than wine and beer. When I told my host family I preferred drinking water with meals, they thought it was somewhat odd and always served it to me a room temperature. However, the streets were cleaned off every morning with water.
2. The use of electricity
Electricity is also used sparingly in Spain. My host family gave me certain hours that I was allowed to blow dry my hair and would always lecture me about leaving a light on when I left a room.
3. Sense of time
I was up at 8:00 a.m. just about every day to attend class or go on an excursion, but my host family would never be up before 10:00 a.m. (except their son who had a job that required him to get up earlier). I would get done with class around 1:00 p.m. but my family didn’t eat lunch until 3:00 p.m. Then, dinner would be at 10:00 p.m. If one wanted to go out, they would arrive to clubs around midnight and they didn’t close until 6:00 a.m.
4. Saying “sorry”
I had never realized this until I was in Spain, but Americans say “I’m sorry” a lot. If we are about to cut someone off or accidentally bump into someone, we almost instantly apologize, but not in Spain. Daily, I was ran into by someone walking on the street without so much as a glance in my direction. When I asked one of my instructors about this, she said it’s kind of a sign of respect. Someone who apologizes for every little thing in Spanish culture is placing themselves below the person they are apologizing to; if they don’t do this, they are establishing themselves as your equal.
5. Fast Food
In the U.S., you can get any type of food at any time of the day. In Spain, they did have a McDonalds, but it closed everyday at 10:00 p.m. So, when my friends and I were looking for a late night snack, we thought we were out of luck until we discovered Leonardo’s; as you can tell, this restaurant was probably an idea they borrowed from Americans and let me tell you it is very delicious.
Everyone in Spain is catholic, literally. Despite the fact that practicing the religion (going to church every week) is not widely done by Spaniards, they all associate themselves with the Catholic church and it is infused into every part of their history. I am not Catholic, but after spending six weeks in Spain, I feel as thought I know more about the religion than many of my Catholic friends.