Getting Used to Spanish Culture in Málaga

Emily Kuhn is a student at University of Massachusetts, Amherst and an ISA featured blogger. Emily is currently studying abroad with ISA in Málaga, Spain.

After having been in Málaga for a bit I find myself getting used to living abroad, and enjoying Spanish culture. The siesta is a time to relax and recharge, the bread present at every meal is motivation to exercise. There are some irksome qualities here, though. The fact that to unlock the door I must turn the key to the right is perplexing. And the nearest Starbucks is located at the airport. Green tea lattes, I will see you back in the States! Despite feeling at odds with some aspects of Spanish culture, the language and the people are enough to make me forget the subtle annoyances.


I have met more locals that I had imagined, and this has helped me feel more integrated in the Spanish lifestyle. Through the ISA-arranged “intercambio” I met a boy my age named Paco. He plans to become a foot doctor, even though I think diseased feet are one of the grossest things to look at. He took two of my friends and I to a salsa club one  Saturday night. I met many friendly Spaniards who did not understand a word of my Spanish, probably because whenever I don’t know a word in Spanish I’ll say it really quickly in English. The music was Latinate, the steps complicated and the mood cavalier. I danced and danced, after a while not caring whether I was awkward or not. Everyone was present in the moment.

I also visited the Alcazaba, an ancient and picturesque monument that is the perfect counterpart to the Málaga coastline. It is a smaller version of the Alhambra found in Granada. The Moorish fortress was built between the 11th and 14th centuries and features marble columns, a serene courtyard and a breathtaking view of the city. I recommend it for the view alone, but the history and architecture of the Alcazaba is definitely worth the entrance price. Visiting some of Málaga’s cultural attractions have made me feel more in tune with the city and its inhabitants.

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