I’ve been feeling really guilty for not liking so many things about Spanish culture. I had begun to think that if I really got to know ANY country that I would be just as turned off by it as I am by Spain. But today I realized that my reaction to Spain stems from the fact that its culture is in some ways the opposite of the way I am. And hopefully there are countries out there that jibe more with my personality and values–and it’s not just that I’m some unadaptable, stubborn, person who will only be happy in the U.S.*
Ways that Spain≠me:
- I am financially conservative. I watch my money really carefully and save it for, well, travel. I am uncomfortable getting more than two drinks on a night out, unless I had the idea set in my mind that this was going to be a BIG night. And since I have so much travelling to do, I generally don’t feel like splurging on a big night. I’d also like to note that even here where 1 drink is under 2 euros, I still don’t like to get more than 2 because I don’t need to be drinking more than that in the first place and it’s wasteful to buy more drinks just because they’re cheap and I’m still out.
- I’m independent. I had several jobs before graduating from college, I’ve lived in Los Angeles, Evanston, Ghana, and now Spain (before the age of 22), I don’t plan on living anywhere close to Texas in the future, and I see my health/financial situation as my responsibility and not the government’s. That last part is really not meant to be a political statement but rather a true reflection of my dislike of being helped in general. (all the things I listed are VERY not Spanish)
- I’m a picky eater. I don’t like your food with the exception of tortilla de patata. Stop insisting that your food is the best in the world! Seriously. They are 100% convinced of that fact. AND they think their food is super healthy. It’s healthy because it’s fresh, not because the content is healthy. All that ham/pork/chorizo? I don’t think so. They also don’t eat many fresh vegetables and only eat fruit for dessert. And the point is, I’m not saying MY country eats healthier, just that you can’t tout the extreme healthiness of your food! Say that you like it, love it, but don’t say that no other country’s food compares.
- This is the same problem I have with a lot of Californians–that they think that their state is the best. I’m a big advocate of each country/state has good things to offer but that one is not better than the other. So that’s another reason that my personality clashes with Spain–because I don’t pretend that subjective experiences are actually objective.
- They’re really set in their ways. For example, in the U.S., if you ever offer anyone free food, they’ll take it if they like the food. But here, if you offer someone pineapple and it’s not one of the 5 times a day that they eat meals, they will reject the pineapple! How incredible.
Obviously, living in a small town has a big effect. I’ve gotten to know the Spanish of the Spanish, whereas I wouldn’t get this sense in a metropolitan area. I also think that since I know I’m only here for 9 months and since I see this as just a temporary period of my life in general–I’m young and this is the time I have to travel; it’s not a job that I want to make my career–I’m not invested in liking the country. In the future if I ever lived in a foreign country, I think I would enjoy it more because I would be in a big city, for one, and for another, I’d be doing a job that I liked.
Anyway, just some thoughts. I hope that another foreign country (or maybe Barcelona!) would not leave me so dissatisfied.
*If you think that I am such a person, please never tell me to my face.