In my program here at Barcelona we had a mandatory meeting with a professor to discuss the cultural differences that the US had compared to Spain, and more specifically Barcelona. We talked about many things like personal space, PDA (public displays of affection), and many other cultural differences. But I felt as if that wasn’t enough, I wanted to get the perspective of someone that has been living in Barcelona and knows the culture really well, not someone that has to teach a class on culture. When I was thinking about who I should interview one of the first people that popped into my head was one of my teachers. He teaches my core class here in Barcelona. I decided to interview him because on the first day of class he was one of the quirkiest professors I had to date. He is also a season ticket holder to FC Barcelona, the biggest soccer team in the world. And lastly because he told us never to go to a restaurant where they have a picture of the paella for you to see. Professor Murillo has a very strong take on Barcelona. He really loves it here, and is very much one of the locals. One of the three most important things that we talked about was connecting my culture in the US to the culture here. He talked about seeing something that happens here and relating it back to anything that it reminds me of the states. One metaphor that he likes to use is an iceberg. An iceberg can look very small when you are looking at in on top of the water, but underneath the water the iceberg can be bigger than you imagined. He is saying that there is more to a culture than what you see with the eye. You have to dive deeper and see the meaning, and reasoning behind their actions.
Next he also discussed how the locals treat the Americans. He said no matter what you do, how you dress, how you talk, the locals will know that you are just a tourist. Something that I have learned to accept, and just look past. The locals are very passionate about their home, they love their city, and rightfully so, it is a very beautiful city. Sometimes at bars, and restaurants the service is bad or you’re not accustomed to how you order something. It is very different from the US. Most of the people here have the perception that people from the US are loud, obnoxious, and annoying. But get to know us a little bit and there is more than what the stereotypes say about us.
Lastly we talked about time with family and friends. Here in Barcelona many shops and businesses take a break in the middle of the day to spend time with their family and friends. This is much different from the US. Normally in the states a typical gathering would be later at night, maybe a dinner or drinks at the bar after work. But here their meeting time is right in the middle of the day. This is called the siesta, which normally means “nap.” But people here have it to spend time with their loved ones. I know back at home my family would try to have dinner together as much as possible, not so much lunch. This one of the biggest differences when we compared Barcelona and the United States.
I think that it is important to take the time out and discuss the values and cultural differences with someone because we are living here for four months, and we need to get familiar with the many different actions that we might not be used to doing. Now that I have interviewed a local I feel that I have learned so much more with our 20-minute conversation than a class about Barcelona could ever teach me. He really opened my eyes to see the different aspects of the Barcelona culture and values that they keep close to their hearts.
One of the aspects of home campus life that I don’t participate in is Greek Life. I always thought about joining a fraternity but never did. Now that I am a junior and going to be a senior in a few months I don’t have much care for them. I never really have a negative point of view on them, some of the videos that I have seen about fraternities have actually had a positive impact on me because they do have a ton of fun. But now I don’t see the point in joining one. If I were to sit down with someone in Greek life I’m sure they would give me the full run down on how Greek life changed their life and how amazing it is, and all the great people in the organization. Just with anything when you are trying to get people to join, you are trying to sell it and make it sound appealing to them. The value to me is not that high, but the value to the people that are in them is very high.