I'm sad to say this but it's been about a month and a half since I have come back from Spain. Everyday I think about it and miss it! Yesterday I woke up and said, "today is a day I would love to be in Bilbao." I had to remind myself I am in the States and someday I will return.
But, until then...I want to continue to update this blog with reflections from my trip. A great way to make a study abroad experience worthwhile is to notice cultural differences and understand that we are all uniquely different!
My International Business class I took in Spain opened my eyes up to some major differences between Spain and the US. To name a few, I noticed the difference in technology, eating habits, and general everyday customs.
In Bilbao, they conserved electricity so efficiently it was one of the things that stood out for most of us on the trip. Overhead lights in the metro trains stayed off until stopping at stations, and even then the doors wouldn't open unless you pressed a button. This in turn conserved a lot of energy and as a business major, I understand that small changes save lots of money. In the shopping mall, escalators weren't constantly moving, but rather started moving once you stepped close to them. Another energy saver.
Another large cultural difference I want to reflect upon is the eating habits. Spanish people customarily have two main courses, instead of our usual one. Both are large, so you must eat slow. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day, and is both long and is a time to socialize. After lunch, there is a siesta time, which I will refer to later. Dinner is served at around 8:30 onward and is smaller than lunch. For me, this was very difficult to get accustomed to. My breakfast was around 8 or 9 and I was ready to eat lunch at 12 or so. Some of our days were packed with activity which made this waiting even harder. I surprisingly found it didn't harmed my digestion..
Lastly, their cultural habits were a bit different from ours. A typical greeting consisted of the kiss on both cheeks. Handshakes are not customary. Between the hours of 2 and 4:30 or so (I could never really figure out the actual times--just some time in the afternoon) they had a "siesta", which literally translates to nap. I was under the impression that everyone leaves work and closes down shop to take one large nap. However, I learned that siesta time is actually the time where stores close and people leave work to spend time with family. Family is a big deal for the Spaniards, and this is something I respect. Even though it may not be productive to take time out of work for leisure time, they care enough about their family to do this.
So far, these are my current reflections. But this semester I'm taking a Spanish Civilization course which thankfully reminds me every Tuesday and Thursday of my amazing experience in Spain. So be on the look out for more reflections!