“Do you have Wee Fee?”: Connecting in Valencia

Nicole Davis is a student at Xavier University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Valencia, Spain.

We are always connected to social media, from checking Facebook and snapchatting to tweeting and browsing Instagram.  Well, outside of the U.S., most phone plans don’t function the way they do at home, which means you cannot call or text anyone and definitely cannot get internet.  Yep, no data plans here in Spain. That may come as a “cultural shock” to some of us who use social media multiple times a day.  While in Spain, we want to share our pictures with everyone and talk to family and friends back home to let them know that we are safe and having a good time.

So, with no data plan or phone service, how do you talk to family and friends?  The answer is wifi, or as pronounced in Spain, “wee fee.”  Wee fee can be found everywhere in Spain, as it can in the U.S. in almost all hotels, restaurants and stores.  Hotels and restaurants will give out their wee fee password to use the internet, but you have to ask for “wee fee,” not “wifi.”  According to a fellow ISA student, “Truthfully, the only culture shock I have experienced so far is the difference in pronunciation.  They call it wee fee; I prefer that instead of wifi.”

Wee fee is very easy to find and is helpful in connecting so you can meet up with other students, stay in contact with your homestay family, and check emails about class and activities.  However, asking for wee fee can make you stand out as an American.  Wee fee is not as popular with or as significant a part of everyday life to people in Spain.

A view of Toledo, Spain.
A view of Toledo, Spain.

But in the end, do we really need wee fee?  No, it is not something that you have to have, but it is helpful for communication.  My advice is to put the phone down.  You can always talk to your friends later, post your tapas to Instagram the next day, and call your family in your home at night.  Studying abroad in another country is all about having an experience, which is difficult to do when you are always connected to social media.  A fellow student put it very well: “In the U.S., people are so obsessed with posting this and that.  Here it is more laid back.  People are more focused on having a social life and family interaction.  I think it is really cool that people aren’t absorbed with social media here.”

So when you find yourself in a Spanish-speaking country, set down your phone, look around, and take the time to experience before checking in with your family or posting a picture. And remember to ask for “wee fee,” not “wifi.”

Ready to get off social media and discover the world? Yep, we thought so. Learn more here!