I love a good list, the internet loves a good list, Buzzfeed has made its fortune writing lists for our amusement. So I thought I’d give it a go and explain why I bloomin’ love Spain.
- LA COMIDA
The food in Spain is something special, they cook with fresh ingredients and usually ingredients that are local to the autonomy. There’s amazing fish, jamón, pinchos, tapas and desserts. I think something that Britain is definitely missing is the pincho and tapas culture. Pinchos are mini sandwiches at the bar or a small snack that can be eaten at any time of day. It’s very normal to grab a coffee and a pincho during the day with a friend. Something that I have learnt is that there is a difference in the tapas served in the UK to those served in Spain. Tapas in Spain are free (in the North anyways) and ½ ración, or the part on the menu that says para picar, is more like the tapas we’re used to back in blighty whereby there is a plate where everyone shares and nabs the food they want.
The joys of having a country shut down between the hours of 2 and 5 is that since there is nothing to do, you may as well sleep. As an Erasmus student I feel I should really immerse myself in the culture. So, I feel I should take advantage of being able to sleep in the middle of the day without it being considered weird. The blinds in my flat, and pretty much every flat in Spain, completely block out the light when sleeping. These were said to have been invented in Spain because the Spaniards wanted to block out the light during the middle of the day when they would take their siesta.
- LA GENTE
Everyone is just really nice and chatty. People are happy to chat away over a coffee for two hours without looking at their phone. There’s a genuine interest (among most Spaniards) in your culture and your language, and they always love showing you and teaching you about the Spanish culture.
This is something very local to Asturias, and particularly Oviedo. I may have harped on about it in one of my last posts too but I just can’t stop, it’s great. The Asturians drink a different kind of cider than we may be used to at home. It’s slightly bitter and not very sweet, but there is a strong taste of apples. The barmen pour the cider from above their heads so that it hits the glass, then carbonates and then you’re expected to drink it like a shot. It’s very theatrical and if you ever come to Asturias then you won’t turn a corner without seeing a barman do this, especially on Calle Gascona.
- LA VIDA TRANQUILA
The lifestyle in Spain is very relaxed. The difference is that people work to live rather than live to work. Their job is important but it isn’t the be all and end all. At the end of every working day everybody is outside in the plazas, the bars, the cafes and restaurants. The Spanish enjoy each other’s company, most children stay out until late as well. The Mediterranean atmosphere and family orientated lifestyle is still alive and well, and very much different to the northern European culture.
There are definitely cons to using the euro all the time. When I go to the shops I still mentally calculate in my head how much I would be spending in pounds. This is mostly just to justify my spending because it’s usually a lot cheaper than the equivalent cost in pounds. Living in Oviedo is very doable on a student budget, you can easily go out for meals regularly and live very well. Considering my rent is only 215 euros, and as a native English speaker it’s so easy to find a job, I’m able to be financially secure for probably the first time in my life.
The food of the Spanish gods. It’s so simple, eggs and potatoes. But it brings me such happiness, a good tortilla has the ability to brighten up any day and only costs one euro per very generous slice.
- FORMAS DE SALUDO
Greeting people in the UK just isn’t the same as it is in Spain. EVERYONE here gives two kisses, even people you don’t know. It’s the unspoken rule. I do wish we had something like this in the UK. Maybe this is just my personal opinion but sometimes shaking hands feels too formal and hugging too informal when greeting someone you don’t know. I don’t know if the double kiss would ever be adopted in awkward Britain but hey ho.
- LAS TIENDAS
There are a lot more independent shops here than in the UK. There are many small businesses that have either survived or emerged after the crisis, which is great for Spain’s struggling economy and high unemployment levels. To those prospective Erasmus students heading to Spain, regardless of where you live, there’ll be a bakery, a fruit and veg shop and a chino within 5 minutes of your flat. This is very convenient and is basically like a Tesco metro split into three parts.
There are a lot of days off and bank holidays in Spain, no-one is really sure why this happens so much. Trust me. I’ve asked many Spaniards why there is no uni and they merely shrug their shoulders and tell me to enjoy the fiesta day. These numerous days off mean that there’s always an excuse to go out and enjoy yourself.
The vast majority of Spaniards I’ve met are really open, welcoming and friendly. I’ll definitely miss the way of life here when I return to the UK and being able to practise my language every day, which is an incredible gift.
It’ll be a bittersweet return to reality in a months’ time when I catch a plane to the UK, but brilliant being able to see everyone again, as well as return to sunny Glasgow.
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