1. People dress very differently here. Many women wear black tights underneath skirts or shorts with striped shirts. Pea coats are everywhere. Scarves are very popular for men and women.
2. When Spaniards eat at home, it is in front of the television. The dinner table at our apartment is five feet from, and facing the TV. (Sidenote: Since our señora’s granddaughter Abril is here for most meals we often get to watch dibujos animados. And Spongebob Squarepants is funny in any language.)
3. When Spaniards converse they like to get real close to you. They also are touchy. They’ll grab your arm or put a hand on your shoulder. Needless to say, they keep your attention. I wasn’t uncomfortable and in fact found this to be a pleasant contrast to Americans who often seem disinterested while conversing.
4. Spaniards raise their voices frequently and seemingly for no reason at all. My señora’s vocal combination of speed and volume reaches levels that would suggest that I’ve just broken some sort of horrible, unforgiveable rule in Spain. But that’s just the way they talk over here: with force. That or my Spanish is so terrible that I continually break some kind of horrible, unforgiveable rule and I’m completely oblivious to it (unlikely).
5. Everything in Spain is smaller: roads, cars, elevators, rooms, restaurants, grocery stores, coca-colas, everything.
6. Spaniards conserve energy. If you think America is green, you can’t even imagine Spain. Por ejemplo, when you go into a hotel room, you have to put your key through a slot by the door. Only then can you use electricity. When you leave and take the card, everything turns off. Showers are short. Many Spaniards rinse off, turn off the water, lather up, and then turn the water back on to rinse, conserving every last drop. Clothes are not cleaned after every use but only when necessary.
7. Spaniards walk everywhere. When they can’t walk (if something more than forty minutes away on foot) they may take a bus or metro. Many Spaniards that do drive ride Vespas or motorcycles. How much money and energy do you think America could save by adopting just a few of these policies?
8. Siestas son muy populares para todo en España y me gustan las siestas.
9. Life is slower. People aren’t always busy. They sit down, eat long lunches, take long coffee breaks, and enjoy one another. With the advent of texting and emails, Americans often overlook the impersonal nature of many of our relationships. It’s refreshing to see people enjoying people. Spaniards may not enjoy everything America does on a material level, but most Americans don’t enjoy the way Spaniards do on a personal level.