I sat down with one of my program directors after class one day. It was an extensive conversation that really changed the way I looked at the Barcelona culture, in addition it allowed me to clarify some confessions I had about certain aspects of Barcelona life. First of all my interviewee spoke fluent english so there was no language barrier which helped immensely.
The first cultural difference that I noticed and did not quite understand was how people eat out at restaurants. People seem to sit for hours just relaxing or drinking a beer at restaurants without hesitation where as in the US most people are hustled in to a table and then encouraged to leave. Often a waiter will refuse to bring a check unless you grab their attention and ask them for it. Lastly there is no tipping like there is in the US, which I believe leads to poor service. My interviewee began to explain this misconception my explaining that most people in Spain live in their parents house until they are about 30. This in turn changes the social aspect of young adults, instead of socializing around the house as we do in the US the majority of people strictly see their friends at restaurants, bars, and out in the city. They may sit for hours at a meal catching up about the week where as back in the US most people could invite their friends over their apartment to hang out. This also correlates to the massive amount of pda (public display of affection) that is displayed around Barcelona. Young couples who both live at their parents house are not able to express their physical affection of each other at their parents house so they often feel comfortable doing so in public. Although this made me uncomfortable at first I have grown very accustomed to it and it is a normal part of any subway ride or walk through a public park. The late emancipation age from parents seems to change almost every aspect of social life, I am glad that back home young adults tend to move out earlier as I would not want to burden my parents by living under their roof longer than I had to. One of the main reasons for this late emancipation age is Spain’s economic condition, Barcelona itself has a 30% unemployment rate and young adults have a staggering 50% unemployment rate. Lastly we talked about the difference between partying in Barcelona vs. the US. The Majority of American college students like to engage in a “pregame” and often binge drink because of the older drinking age. Where as in Spain the concept of getting supremely drunk before going to a club or bar is not as common. Alcohol is much more casual and not abused as frequently as in the US. I would not have had this more
One part of Quinnipiac campus life I do not participate in is Fraternity life. Although I myself attended an all boys school which had a strong brotherhood aspect it was much different than from what I see college fraternity life to be. I have sat down and discussed in depth what it means to people who are in the fraternities and it does seem very prideful and supportive although I seem to view it as an isolating or exclusive social aspect. Perhaps I am viewing greek life in the wrong way, I will make sure to open my mind more and try to understand the culture difference between someone in a Fraternity and myself.
Attached below is a picture I took when I met with my program director, it was a very pleasant and eye opening experience that I would not have engaged in if I was not enrolled in this class which I am grateful for. “The journey of wise and resourceful travelers doesn’t begin at the point of taking up residence in a foreign country.”( Slimbach 127) It is true that simply being present in the host country is not the most immersive way to travel, and I am glad that I am being guided to be truly immersed in to Spain’s culture.