Sometimes parts of a country’s culture are so nuanced that it takes some time to learn about them… other times they are much more obvious. Here are the first five things that I noticed about Barcelona after being here for only five days.
There is way more smoking than in the U.S.
Everywhere from the park, to the grocery store, to your school you will see (and smell) people smoking. In some coffee shops you can even find cigarette vending machines. For smokers this is a dream, but for the rest of us just hold your breath and I promise you will get used to it.
PDA is much more common
I was shocked by the amount of public display of affection (or PDA) that can be seen around the city. Watching people stop in the middle of the street to hug or kiss is very common. In the U.S. this is sometimes seen as “weird” or “gross” but here it is a normal part of society. I think it goes to show how the Spanish way of life is much slower and relaxed than the one of the U.S.
In the U.S. I am used to pulling up to a Dunkin’ and ordering a large flavored latte or an iced coffee, both of which are super hard to find here. Coffee is much more simple (and cheaper) than back home. It is always served hot with brown sugar instead of white. If you are getting really desperate for a nice cold iced coffee you can always head to Starbucks in one of the main plazas, but the best coffee can be found in the little hole-in-the-wall shops throughout your neighborhood (special shout-out to El Arbol near the Arc de Triomf).
Dinner is eaten much later
Spaniards don’t eat dinner until 9-11 pm, which is something that I am still trying to adjust to. The key is to not skip breakfast and then eat a late lunch. Once dinner does come around, you will get to eat some yummy Patatas Bravas, Empanadas, Paella, Croquetas and much more that make the wait well worth it.
The well-behaved dogs
In my opinion, one of the best parts of the city is the number of dogs that inhabit it, but there is something that my friends and I can’t get over: THEY ARE SO WELL BEHAVED. It is hard to find a dog on a leash here, instead they will be strolling freely yet obediently next to their owners. Thinking about it now, I don’t think that I have heard a single dog bark since arriving.
So far I am having a blast during my semester abroad. I can’t wait to learn more about Spain and my beautiful host city of Barcelona.
Kaylie Rowland is a student at Heidelberg University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying with ISA in Barcelona, Spain.