A Taste Of Spanish Culture

While many of these things I noticed within the first few weeks, I noticed something new within the past week. While I was at a school for English day, each of the teachers were taking a snack break and having fruit. The fruit was on a plate accompanied with fork and knife. I watched as each teacher used their fork and knife to carefully cut off the skin and cut off appropriate sized pieces before eating them. A banana was no exception. The knife cut along the edge of the banana peel and then the banana was cut in bite sized pieces. I have never seen such a formality with fruit but I respected it. In the US, we tend to rush eating and are quite informal, eating a bagel on the way to class or eating lunch while walking around. If there’s a stereotype about US food here it’s our inclination to eat fast food. While I have not gained the patience necessary to eat a banana with a fork and knife, I have come to appreciate time spent while eating. It is based on quality not quantity and enjoyment rather than convenience.   Rumor has it that Spanish meals can last ages and that can be true. Meals are a time to enjoy the food slowly while socializing with friends and family. This is mostly true for meals outside the house on the weekends or special occasions when life is not so busy.

You may notice that I have been using US instead of America. I was talking to one of my students and he mentioned in the politest way possible, that it is a little strange for the US to refer to themselves as America. Not even considering South America, the US is only part of North America. I simply have never thought about it that way before but he is right. He said, if someone from Brazil said they were from America, that would sound completely normal. For example, before the new pope was selected, my host mom predicted that he would be American. Indeed, as a native of Argentina, he was. In the US we are taught that there are 7 continents, 2 of which being North and South America. In Europe however, many students learn there are 6, with North and South combined as “America.”

The first Sunday of every month, many museums in Barcelona are free. While many of our friends were on a skiing trip in Andorra, we decided to travel over to Barcelona and take advantage of free things because let’s face it, money should be spent on important things like cafe con leche. It was a gorgeous day to be in Barcelona. We could feel spring approaching and I couldn’t wait for it to get here. I only brought one winter coat abroad and am ready to put it away for a few months. We decided to visit the museums, MNAC and the Placa del Rey. As true with many museums, the architecture of the building can be just as impressive as what’s inside. This is no different for MNAC.  As you approach the museum from a quarter of a mile away, you can see it sits on top of a hill and is magnificent. It’s a gorgeous castle with trees and fountains lining the hill. The MNAC looks over all of Barcelona and has an absolutely gorgeous view. It comes with a price though and that is the stairs to get up. Have no fear oh lazy ones, escalators are provided if you so desire. At the top, we looked out at the grand city of Barcelona while listening to a typical spanish genre of music from a guitar. There’s something about street music on a beautiful day that I just absolutely love. It’s kind of like living in a movie. The music from the soundtrack of a movie always adds to the emotions of the characters and really relates to what they are feeling. Ever wanted to be an actor? Just go down the streets of a big city and…BAM automatic soundtrack to your life.

CE - AU PAIR - SPAIN - BCN - Faith Lindsey - museum

I apologize for the randomness of ideas that I have thrown at you, but I’ve learned bits and pieces of information as I’ve been living here and want to share it all! One interesting fact: within the last year, the city of Barcelona has started to regulate who is allowed to play on the streets. Each musician must apply for a musical street license and if they are deemed to truly be musically talented, they are allowed to ask for money on the streets. It seems like a strange idea, but apparently it was necessary because the amount of musicians was causing quite a hubbub of sound for the tourists and it was not pleasing to the ear. Now, walking through the subway or in the park, you can hear full bands, people playing/singing rumba, and others and it is quite enjoyable. Many are in the plaza so you could be having a nice coffee outside when all of a sudden a man with an accordion comes up and serenades the whole restaurant. If you want to get a taste of rumba, typical spanish music, you can download a free album here: La Pegatina Free Album  In order to download the free album you have to share them via some social media outlet, let it be Facebook or Twitter. Completely worth it.

More about musicians. If you want to be a local musician, it seems that Catalonia is the place to do it. When you go to a bar to hear a band, the entire bar becomes quiet once the music starts. In the US, the music is more of a background however, here, you are expected to stay silent and enjoy the music. A little inconvenient if you came with friends but very respectful toward the musicians.

Even though I’ve been here for 2 months, I still learn something new every day. While the rebajas (sales) had been going on since I arrived and just recently ended, I didn’t realize that they were government regulated. It is illegal for a store to have sales outside of the official sale period. They can give discounts, but large sales are prohibited and this is to protect the small boutiques as they are an important part of Spain’s culture.

Alright so sorry this post was all over the place but hope you enjoyed. More to come later!

Faith Lindsay is currently participating in the CE Au Pair in Spain program.

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