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Differences between America and Spain, Part 1

Friday, March 23, 2012

I know that everyone has heard the obvious differences between Spain and the US numerous times, via word of mouth and the news. But I'm not going to tell you the obvious ones, because that would be no fun. So without further ado, here are some of the major differences I've noticed so far.

  1. The Beaches: Now of course both Spain and America have beautiful beaches. But there are some definite differences between the people and the objects found on the Spainish beaches. For one, tanning topless is completely legal here. Quite the shock. But I guess that's one way to not have tanlines? Also, it can be 80 degrees out   in March and you will be sweating just sitting on your towel, but you will still see more people on the beach than in the water. The majority of the people here don't touch the water until May or June. Another interesting thing is the complete lack of personal space. This is actually a pretty consistent trend in Spain, regardless of the location. I know that at the beaches in Boston, you do not kick soccer balls near people who are lying on towels, and you also try to leave at least 6 inches between you and the person lying down when you're running by and kicking up monsterous amounts of sand. This is apparently unheard of. Another really interesting thing about beaches, at least here in Alicante, is that instead of the seaweed I always find on beaches in the Northeast, I find mountains and mountains of palm tree seeds. It's really cool!
  2. Exercise: After visiting the gym at the University of Alicante, I truly realized how lucky I was to have such a great Rec Center back on the CU Boulder campus! People in Spain strip down exercising to the very basics: free weights, treadmills, and a couple of yoga mats and medicine balls. But that's not to say that people don't exercise! The main difference is that, while in Colorado and the rest of the US we have a considerable cold season, the climate in the majority of Spain permits exercising outside year round. There are numerous tennis and paddle courts, lots of soccer and futsol fields, outdoor workout equipment at the beaches, and joggers everywhere you look. While most people I know in the United States prefer to use the gym, whether it is to use the weight room or take a Zumba class, people in Spain prefer to be outdoors while exercising. Also, you rarely see a Spaniard working out by himself or while listening to music, two things which I personally could never get used to!
  3. Spaniards and their ham: This is probably the most shockingly weird difference I have noticed so far. I know that my grandmother in the United States takes cooking the Christmas ham very seriously: the glaze has to be just right, the color just pink enough, and the skin perfectly crispy. However, this kind of obsession with ham does not even begin to compare with that of Spain. How many types of ham can you name? 2 or 3 types? Well, the Spaniards have at least 50 different types of ham, all of them different in very slight but noticeable ways. Not only do they have numerous types of ham, but they also take it very seriously. Don't ever joke with a Spaniard about ham...or bulls for that matter (take it from me, I learned the hard way.)

Well, those are all of the differences for now. I will be posting more later, so stay tuned! Next Thursday there is the huelga general, a general strike, in all of Spain, protesting the governments new bill passed against labor unions. Everything, from schools to airports, will be shut down for the entire day. Any ideas of what I should do to pass the day? 

Italian • Boston, MA