25+ things about Spain that surprise Americans

Here are 25 (okay, 29) things that surprise Americans when they come to Spain. This list was originally written by lacabezallena.com in Spanish (here). I love the list so much (and can relate to it) that I’ve decided to translate it to English here so that my friends and family back home can appreciate it too. I’ve changed it a bit, added my own touch, and a few extra points. Enjoy!

  1. Seemingly everybody smokes.
  2. There are bars everywhere! Seriously, Spain has one of the highest bar per capita ratio in the world.2016-04-13-01-13-46
  3. Everyone has medical care provided by the government. You can go to the doctor even if you don’t have private insurance and not get a bill afterwards!
  4. Alcohol is cheap. You can get a beer and a tapa for less than 2 euros.
  5. There are Spanish redheads! We thought they only existed in Ireland and the US…
  6. They don’t have dryers. Who has time to hang dry all of their clothes?!

    The first time I hung my clothes up to dry outside. It was nerve wracking…if you drop something, you’re screwed.
  7. Confusing names: the Spanish tortilla has nothing to do with the Mexican kind. And what does the Corte Ingles have that’s English?

    Spanish tortilla is actually more like an omelet (eggs, potato, onion)
  8. Everyone has friends from their childhood that they still hang out with.
  9. There are a lot of lanes exclusively for buses and taxis.
  10. There are a lot of senior citizens! It could just be that in the US we put them in retirement homes and don’t see them.
  11. There are a ton of small stores. And Wal-Mart doesn’t exist. There are even people who don’t know what Wal-Mart is!

    People here still buy a lot of things in mom and pop shops, including food, clothing, shoes, books, toys, and electronics
  12. Plane tickets are really cheap. And the public transportation functions really well.

    This is how much it costs to fly to each of these places out of Madrid as of right now. It’s a traveler’s dream!
  13. There are various official languages and people use them in their everyday life.

    Euskera, a completely different language from Spanish spoken in Basque country
  14. Cashiers at grocery stores have chairs to sit on!
  15. Spaniards pronounce brands with English names in a completely different way. I still can’t believe how they pronounce “Colgate” (col-gah-tay).
  16. Every city has an official saint and virgin.
  17. “Joder” (the translation of “f*ck”) isn’t as strong or taboo as the f-bomb. Spaniards say a lot of “bad” words and it’s not a big deal.
  18. They have a ton of holidays and vacation days. We’re accustomed to working without breaks until death.

    San Isidro, the saint of Madrid, has his day on May 15th
  19. In a lot of places in Spain, people turn their head in surprise when they see a black person (sadly, the diversity is really low!)
  20. Clothes are really cheap! Zara is considered an almost luxury brand in the US. Shoes for 5 euros in Primark in Spain?? And t-shirts for 2.50!
  21. I had never seen a little kid riding on the back of a motorcycle through the city until I came to Spain.

  22. Soccer is practically a religion.

    When Real Madrid wins a game. The police have to have a huge presence because the fans are absolutely insane.
  23. Ham in bars! They scared me a bunch of times. They’re hanging from the walls and ceilings. You can see the hoof of the pig. It’s too real.
  24. There is a LOT more variety of meat and seafood in Spain than in the US.
  25. On that note, Spaniards are a lot more open to eating organs and other body parts that Americans find weird.

    Brain, anyone?
  26. Most people are from a “pueblo”…or their parents are. Many Spaniards have moved from little towns to big cities in search of jobs.

    Mitzy exploring around Diego’s pueblo
  27. People are a lot more liberal and open in Spain than the US, and they accept people more easily. World Pride day will be hosted in Madrid this year.
  28. A lot of things are written in English in stores to “sell better”. English is seen as cool…and same with American culture. Americans themselves…not as much. Haha!
  29. Spaniards love to talk, and they can be really loud. The best thing about this is that they are really enthusiastic when you want to practice your Spanish with them.

The best thing about surprises when living abroad is that you learn a lot about yourself and you learn to appreciate things that you used to take for granted. Every country and culture has something amazing to offer, and I hope to see even more as I take advantage of the cheap flights!

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