After living abroad for nearly six years, I would say that I’ve adapted quite well to my adopted country. I’ve done things here in Spain that I had never dreamed of growing up in a tiny town in the middle of the Nevadan desert. I’ve tasted food that seemed more than strange when I first arrived and I’ve had the opportunity to travel to places I’d only seen in photos. Adapting to a new place and culture is not always easy and I’m convinced that the more integrated a person gets in that culture the more difficult it is to adapt. So I’m quite proud of myself that I’ve been able to adapt to Spain and all it’s peculiarities. However, this doesn’t mean that I’ve adapted 100% or that I ever will. For this reason, I present the things I’ll never adapt to in Spain.
The Weather- I remember my first encounter with the weather here in Spain. I had just arrived to Donostia to spend an exciting year studying abroad and it was raining! In August! WTF!! I had never seen rain in August and to be honest I had seen very little rain in my life. Well it must have just been a fluke because the next morning was gorgeous…a perfect beach day. However that first night my roommates and I set off to find a supermarket to buy the essentials for our first night in our new apartment. Since it had been such a beautiful day none of us gave a second thought to the weather or taking an umbrella (not that we had one anyways!) and on our way home it started to rain like I had never seen it before. I mean a serious downpour! I didn’t even know it was possible for it to rain that hard. Oh, and it was about 90 degrees! Since then I’ve learned that the weather here can change in the drop of a hat and to always be prepared with an umbrella. I check three weather web-sites daily just to be ultra-prepared. But I’m sure I’ll never adapt. I’m always complaining about the rain in the winter (or year round really) and the humidity in the summer. It’s unbearable. The weeks upon weeks of rain from November to April and the 95% humidity from June to August does not make for a happy girl.
Lack of Customer Service- This category probably deserves its own post but it’s exhausting thinking about all the times I’ve experienced really bad customer service in Spain. The most recent example was this past summer when the hubby and I had a particularly harrowing experience with Spain’s number one flight company. To make a very long story short a man stole our suitcase in the Madrid airport which in turn caused us to miss our international flight to the USA. When we went to report it to the customer service department of this particular flight company we were told that we hadn’t spent enough money to warrant a customer service claim. I was simply flabbergasted and asked “Well, how much money do you have to spend to get some attention?” And the customer service worker attending to us said “Much more than what you spent.” Unfortunately there is very little you can do when dealing with people like that. But this is something that happens every day. Once again something I’ll never get used to.
Lack of Personal Space- This one I have adapted to a little bit but it still irks me to no end. The best example of this is on public transportation. Picture this: You’re waiting at the bus stop alone. Another person joins you to wait for the bus and although there is more than enough room for 2 people to sit down (there are usually 5 or 6 seats) the person chooses the seat right next to you. And then they start smoking! It’s something I will never understand. There are other seats and if you want to smoke, go stand somewhere else! Another example is on the bus or train. The entire train or bus will be virtually empty and a person will pick the seat right next to you. They have the entire bus or train to choose from and they choose the seat directly next to you. I don’t get it! And do you want to know who the guiltiest party is? The little old grandmas who look so sweet and innocent! But be careful! They will invade your space and you won’t even see it coming!
The Idea That American Food is Unhealthy- I admit that some American food is unhealthy. But I don’t have any friends or family that are eating hamburgers, pizza, hotdogs or fast food every day of the week. I grew up eating fresh fruits and vegetables every day, with every meal. But most people here believe that all Americans are only eating these things every day and that all Americans are overweight. It’s simply not true (at least in my case) and it’s something that is offensive and ignorant. I happen to believe that a lot of Spanish food (jamon, croquetas, potatoes, fried everything, lots of meat, the quantity of food consumed, white bread) is quite a bit unhealthier than American food. But if you talk to people here they inherently believe that American food is the worst and Spanish food is the healthiest you can find. It’s something I don’t agree with and will probably never adapt to.
What about you? What things have you not adapted to in your new adopted country? Which things have been difficult for you to adapt to?