My travels are going absolutely wonderful over here. I am having a blast. You could never imagine how much there is to do and see. I see you all have plenty of questions so I will do my best to answer them as best I can!
1. I have never seen or played cricket. I am not sure that that is big in Spain but I could be wrong. I believe I have seen it in a few movies but your guess is as good as mine!Sorry!
2. As for crime here, from what I have heard under the dictatorship of Franco, the crime rate was extremely low. Now, in times of prosperity, it has gotten worse, especially in terms of terrorism. I do not see cases as bad as I do back in the United States when I watch the news here, but it is definitely not as safe as it used to be. The big thing to worry about here is street theft. Pick-pocketing is almost an art form, especially in the big, crowded city of Madrid. The underground Metro system can get extremely packed, making it very easy for robbers to get into your belongings without you noticing. I know a few people at school who have already been robbed on the Metro. I also was a victim the first week I was here. My card was not stolen, but after I used an ATM machine, someone inserted a card reader into the machine and was able to pull out about five hundred dollars! Very Scary! Thankfully, the situation was cleared up with the bank and I will be reimbursed soon!
3. The government in Spain is a Parliamentary Monarch. They have a King (Juan Carlos 1) and an elected Congress in Senate. From what my teachers tell me in class the Senate is not responsible for much at all. Congress makes legislative decisions, but in the end the King will have the final say. We were also informed that the current kingis planning on retiring very soon, and his successor is supposed to be wonderful!
4. I am not completely positive on this yet, I know the Spanish people are able to elect specific parties to Parliament to facilitate the law making process. My Señora explained a little bit about this today. She said that as long as you are a Spanish citizen you are able to vote on a majority of the laws of which are made. Very similar to the United States.
5. Yes, they do have shopping malls! I actually went to one of them and it was enormous. There was even an indoor skiing/snowboarding mountain inside the mall. They also have a store called El Corte Inglés where you can find anything you could ever want. There is a supermarket, department store, electronic store, pharmacy, etc., etc. If you guys thought Walmart was big, you would die at the sight of this place. I will take pictures for you next time I am in there.
6. I think the strangest part that Ihave experienced so far are the customs. Many things that we consider perfectly normal back in the U.S. are completely offensive over here. For example, stretching or yawning at the dinner table or during school is extremely rude. It is also not acceptable to walk around the house barefoot. They also have huge meals for lunch, usually four courses in the middle of the day. During this time a lot of the stores close down so people can go home and be with their families!
7.There are tons and tons of things to do in Madrid. I am almost never bored. There are countless parks where you can always find people walking around or exercising. There is a huge zoo, which I plan to go to pretty soon. There are always people walking the streets and shopping. Nightlife is HUGE in Madrid. People usually go to bars at night which close around two or three, when people venture to clubs. The clubs do not close until around six in the morning. I still have not figured out exactly when the Spaniards find time to sleep!
8. London was AMAZING! The accent is different, and there are some words that are different. For example, where we would say ¨I am standing in line,¨ the English would say ¨I am in Que.¨ Besides a few simple phrases, it was incredible easy to understand all the English people, and hearing the English language again was a very nice change!
9.I have not yet made any other trips while I have been here outside of Spain. This weekend I am going to Cadiz, which is on the Southern coast of Spain. They will be hosting the second biggest carnival in the world, which should be a blast. The next two weekends I have trips to other cities in Spain. After that I am going to plan trips to other countries. I will definitely be visiting France and Italy in the near future!
10. Over 80% of the population in Spain is Catholic.
11. The styles are a little bit different over here, but yes there are Skinny Jeans. The stores sell similar types of clothing, but how people choose to wear it is a little bit different. Girls are almost ALWAYS in high heels. I do not quite understand how they are able to walk like that all day but I will stick to my flat boots!
12. Meat is very big in Spain, especially ham. It is very common to be walking in the streets and see hundreds of entire ham legs (hoof and all) hanging from the ceiling.A friend of mine had an actual leg sitting in her kitchen for over a month. I suppose you can add this to my list of strange things. Another common thing is the Tortilla Española. It is extremely delicious, you could probably compare it to a potato and egg omelet. These are everywhere and families all have their own unique recipes for the dish. A big breakfast or snack is ¨Churros con Chocolate.¨ These are basically Churros like most of you would know, dipped in a big glass of scrumptious chocolate. Let me tell you, they are to die for.
13. The architecture here is very different than anything you would see in the United States. Everything is much older and in my opinion, much more beautiful. I have been lucky enough to go inside three different Spanish palaces or ¨palacios¨ and the work inside is gorgeous. There is artwork from all different time periods and from all different influences. In what part of Spain that we travelled to, we got to see the actual castle that Sleeping Beauty was modeled off of. I will attach a picture of this and some other buildings near me for you all to see!
14. American music is really popular here. I honestly have not heard many real Spanish songs while I have been here. The discotecas almost always play popular American music, much like you would here on KISS FM.
15. If you are referring to nude beaches, I have also been informed that they do exist here. In June I will be moving to a beach town to live, so I will make sure to let you know what life is like then. I have not been to any beaches yet, but I plan to go in the near future. I will be sure to take lots and lots of pictures when the time comes.
16. I learned in class yesterday that about 88% of the people living in Spain are Spaniards. There are a lot of people from the Americas and Morocco is well. The people here are very accepting of other cultures, but due to current extremely high unemployment rates, immigration is very low.
17. The Spaniards love McDonald’s. They are EVERYWHERE. They are usually located right next to a KFC. The menus are pretty similar to those of the U.S. There are also numerous Starbucks. These are the only real chains that I have seen in the heart of Madrid. I have heard there is one Taco Bell in the city, which I plan to go to whenever I can find it. There is not one bagel shop that I can find, so if anyone has the desire to ship over a dozen, you are more than welcome to.
Hopefully these answers are helpful to your class. I am currently enrolled a class all about Spanish Culture and Civilization and will definitely share with you anything interesting that we learn in class. I hope all is well back at home and welcome any questions you all can come up with about Spain! As I said, I am going to be visiting Cadiz tomorrow, which is supposed to be a very beautiful city. I can´t wait to tell you all about it!