Going to Casteldefels and Barcelona in Spain was a wonderful experience. I’ve wanted to go to Spain since I was a little kid so spending a week there was a lifelong accomplishment of sorts. But it wasn’t without some cultural shock and things I wish I had known before going.
There are Two Kinds of Spanish
For two years I lived in Central America as a religious missionary and developed a fluency in Spanish. Going to Spain I was confident that while the language would have a different accent and have a few unique words to the region I would be able to get by.
Boy was I wrong.
The Spanish spoken in Spain is completely different from the Spanish in Central America. The best way to describe the difference is that Spanish in Spain is spoken with a heavy lisp. Urban legend says a historical Spanish monarch spoke with a lisp and it caught on with members of the court and later the populace, but the real answer is historical evolution of the language.
In any case I really struggled to communicate with people effectively. Their accent would throw me off and my accent would throw them off and then we’d use words that were completely different. Trying to buy popcorn using the word palomitas when they know it as rosetas was a very frustrating experience.
I know this is a little more specific to those who speak Spanish, but it is something to be aware of and prepare for to make things a lot less frustrating.
People Stay Up Late
After reading that headline, you might think that kids can stay up until 9 and their parents doze off around 11. But in Spain, they stay up really, really late.
My wife and I had just gotten to our hotel around 11 and we decided to hit up a local mall to find something to eat. We walked in and found dozens of kids under the age of five running around, teen couples going to the movies, and older folk laughing over cups of coffee. It was still the same when we left around midnight.
There’s an obvious benefit to being able to get a bite to eat at any hour, but trying to get some peace and quiet and settle in for sleep can be a potential problem if the entire neighborhood is up for another four hours.
The reason people are up so late is that the time zone they follow isn’t in line with the location of the country. According to research from the BBC Spain has been following Central European time since the 1940’s, as a result, people’s work days are over around 8 p.m.
Fortunately, this time shift wasn’t so bad because we had made the trip from France. But for someone going from the US to Spain, the time shift can definitely be a rough adjustment, especially when you factor in jet lag.
It was weird adjusting to this different lifestyle, and totally went against our policy of trying to be indoors after nightfall, but it made things so much better and was a neat experience to operate on another culture’s schedule.
Spain was a great experience and my wife and I have fun memories of exploring the castle in Castelldefels and the gothic square in Barcelona. Keep the above things in mind and you’ll have an awesome time in this wonderful country.
Author: Benjamin Baker
After serving abroad in a religious capacity for two years Ben has felt the pull to travel and explore ever since. This desire was further fueled by his wife Maddie and the two have traveled to many places over the last few years. Ben’s hope is that by sharing his knowledge and experiences obtained while traveling that others can improve their lives and the lives of others through travel. Check out additional articles written by Benjamin.