Barcelona

Spain for Dummies

Elena Manauis is a student at the University of Kentucky. She is an ISA Featured Blogger and studied abroad with ISA in Granada, Spain.

So you’re headed to Spain for the first time, I’m sure you’re giddy with excitement like I was, but you have NO idea what to expect. The only thing you think of when you hear the word “Spain” is bullfights and flashy dancers with castanets… am I right? Consider this your crash course for one of Europe’s best destinations.

What to pack/ What to wear

  • In the North, pack for all temperatures and weather all year round.
  • In the South during the summer, bring lots of tank tops and cute t-shirts, but for the winter, temperatures can dip into the high 30s so be prepared.
  • Spaniards like to pair everything with a cute pair of Converse, Filas, Vans, or platform sandals.
  • Check out stores like Zara, Pull and Bear, and Mango once you land (you won’t be disappointed).

Where to eat

  • If there’s a picture of the food on the side of the building, STAY AWAY.
  • Lunch (the largest meal) isn’t until 2-3pm and dinner isn’t until 9-10pm in Spain.
  • You’ll have to flag down your server for everything (this isn’t Olive Garden).
  • The tip is included in the bill.
  • Ask for recommendations from tour guides, hotel staff, or your host family.
  • Even McDonald’s tastes better here, I swear.

How to get around

  • Metro: Usually ~1-2 euro per ride, but the extensiveness of the line depends on the size of the city.
  • Bus: Can be a little more complicated, but typically cheap like the metro. Be sure to look up the schedule/stops online beforehand.
  • Taxis: Great for a night out. They charge by the distance, not the number of people so they tend to be very affordable when divided up (Uber is not as common).
  • BlaBlaCar: Essentially a long distance Uber with as many people as the car can hold (but usually less). Probably the most affordable and a unique experience you can use to meet new people and practice your Spanish.

Cultural norms

  • Personal space doesn’t exist; Spain’s greeting is two kisses for crying out loud.
  • PDA is extremely normal, leave that couple making out on the bench alone!
  • A lot of eye contact is to be expected; the Spanish are very intimate people.
  • Want to go out for a night on the town? Don’t go to the clubs until 2am.
  • Everyone dresses up for almost everything (don’t go to your Spanish university in that Zeta Alpha Beta t-shirt if you want to assimilate).

Hopefully you can enjoy Spain to its fullest, and remember for packing, USE SPACE BAGS.

Un saludo,

Elena 

 

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