They speak Spainish in Spain.

Cultural Experiences of International Students in Spain

Posts Tagged ‘erasmus

Erasmus in Spain, Parties at another level..

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There are a lot of things I could write about in this blog to complain
about Spain. There are many cultural differences that I find quite
annoying or different here. But instead of writing about that I am
going to write about something which has impressed me. Spanish people
really know how to party…

It all starts off in the early evening when they tend to get together
in parks and public places to do what they call “botellon“. This
consists of buying bottles of alcohol and publicly consuming them
before going out. The idea is you spend less money in the bars or
nightclubs which you will later go to. After that you might go to a
bar or two or three throughout the ‘early’ evening. Be prepared to
inhale a lot of smoke because it is still legal to smoke inside bars
in Spain. Before or after 4am you move on to a nightclub. Most bars
close at 4 so after that time you usually have to pay to be inside
somewhere. The nightclubs entrance fees usually come with a mixed
drink included. Nightclubs in Spain close at 7 am on a Saturday night
so get ready for a long and loud night. To put things in perspective,
night clubs in France have to close at 5 and nightclubs in Britain
close around 3. This means that when most people in Britain are
heading home to sleep, the people in Spain are just about getting
ready to get into the nightclub for another 3 or 4 hours of partying.

Another thing I have to share about the Spanish party animals are
their ‘fiestas’. From the smallest little town that is celebrating its
annual festival, to parties like San Fermin, Pamplona (the running of
the bulls) and Las Fiestas del Pilar, Zaragoza where over 1 million
people attend. I had the pleasure of attending San Fermin (official website)
this year and have to say it was pretty amazing. The complete change in the
city is shocking. Almost from one day to the next the city is infiltrated
by people from all over the world. People come to run with the bulls,
or just to party, and the party doesn’t stop. The party lasts a total
of 9 days and during those 9 days the bars in the center of the city,
or casco viejo, close for only one or two hours a day to kick people
out, clean up, and open again. Forget about nightclubs during this
week. They don’t even open. All bars are packed to capacity all day
and all night long. In the morning, those daring enough have the
“pleasure” to run with the bulls. If they make it inside the arena
they can stay and run with the ‘vaquillas’ (cows). Pamplona during San
Fermin is a whole different city. Even the people change. Usually the
people from northern Spain tend to be closed and grumpy but during
this week there is no sign of that. Everybody is open, happy and
dressed in white and red. Throughout the city there are several stages
and open areas where there are concerts and even daily firework
displays. The actual bullfights happen during the afternoon and are
always filled to capacity. Although sometimes it is too crowded and
dirty the festival is an amazing experience and I recommend it to
everyone. To make a long story short, I am very impressed with the
Spaniards and their partying.

san fermin


Written by tony1fcom

October 26, 2009 at 12:53 AM

Comparing our blog to others..

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If you google ¨erasmus in spain¨ or ¨blogs about Erasmus in spain you will quickly find that there are many many people writing about this topic other than ourselves. Most people tend to remember it as a very good time in their life. Let’s face it, Spaniards know how to enjoy life. We are the lucky ones who get to have a chance to see and live here firsthand.

As I searched for similar blogs I found one called BlankInkProject. This blog is about a girl who is doing an internship in Madrid. She includes pictures and tells anecdotes of her time in Madrid and her trips outside of Madrid to places like Segovia, El Escorial, Toledo, and even Buitrago de Lozoya, a small town in Sierra Norte about 2 hours north of Madrid. Also she goes pretty in-depth with a post about a trip to Valencia after she finished working and before she left for England. The second blog I found that was like ours is actually in French but an excellent example of a good blog. This blog is called Grenade La Jolie and is written by a french girl who is living in Granada, southern Spain. I don’t really understand French, but the blog is very extensive and includes an enormous amount of interesting pictures of her and things she saw while she was there. She also includes a large number of videos, a recipe for how to make gazpacho, and even a list of translated phrases from french to spanish. You can tell this girl really liked Granada.

Moving on to websites I came across one called Erasmus World. This website has a different page for each country involved and has a forum for Spain where people can write and offer just about anything from rooms/apartments for rent to party promotions. I would say that the site has decent traffic and almost daily usage and new things. The second site I found was Spain Erasmus. This website can give you information about over 52 cities in Spain. They post all sorts of events, interesting locations, top 10 places judged by its own users and members, and even help you find accommodations. In the end, these are just a few of the endless amount of blogs and websites you can find online that can help you on this topic, there are many more.

Written by tony1fcom

October 23, 2009 at 7:36 PM

Posted in Tony Vidal

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Where Are the Real Sports? – The Downside of Erasmus in Spain

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Despite what many believe, erasmus in Spain isn’t all fun and games. In fact, the biggets downside to studying on an exchange program here is just the lack of a certain kind of game: North American sports. On the other side of the Atlantic, football is not king; depending on the region, people’s passion varies from baseball, to American football, basketball, hockey, or, in certain cases, all four. The love and passion we Canadians have for our national sport, hockey, surpasses that of Spaniards for football. We breathe hockey, we live hockey; our great sport is the focal point of many a conversation, and people are often introduced by name and favorite hockey team. While studying here in Spain, what I have missed most from home has not been my mother’s cooking, speaking English, or pasteurized milk; it’s been hockey.

It’s not that hockey is disliked in Spain; everyone loves the occasional fight they see either on youtube or TV. But game broadcasts are more difficult to find than fresh milk. Add the six-hour time difference to that, and watching a game is practically and expedition. Regular season games start at 7pm, Eastern Time. That means 1am Spanish time. That also means the game ends at 4am. Luckily my favorite team plays in the east; were it from the west, I would have to stay up until 6am to watch a game. 

But staying up to watch the games is the easy part. The actual watching part is the difficult task. For that, you need to find what they call a stream, which another internet user broadcasts. HockeyWebcasts is a great source for finding these often illegal stream. It compiles a list of regular broadcasts. The list is not always complete, however; that’s when the going gets difficult and the sports aficionado must do some deep digging. Atdhe is a similar site that provides a list of streams for hockey as well as other hard-to-find sports, as is MyP2P. Streaming sites like and Ustream have come to my rescue in the middle of a intense hockey craving night. In general, the above mentioned sites link to the two latter sites, which are sometimes difficult to search, hence the utility of lists said sites provide. 

So, with a good internet connection, few friends, fewer plans, and an intense desire to watch an event taking place thousands of miles away, it is possible to stay in touch with the North American sports scene. But that would be too easy; streaming is a popular option for many expats and thrifty penny-pinchers who opt for the blurriness of an online stream and therefore slow down the connection. Often while watching game, the stream will lag or stop altogether to buffer. The second problem is streaming’s questionable legality, which periodically leads streams being shut down by a company claiming some violation of some other copyright agreement or some legal blabber of the sort. 

Of course there’s other options out there, if one is willing to pay. The official website of the NHL offers NHL Center Ice, which allows users to watch live games in high quality. For about $150, the user could secure the service for an entire year. But, for those of us studying in Europe, that service is not available. Instead, if we insist on having the highest quality (and legality), we have to sign up Espn 360, an overpriced and unreliable service known for its rude customer service. In view of this, it’s understandable that many opt for a free stream, despite its blurriness. 

Not many people know of these websites; I didn’t when I first got here, and I suffered. Last week, I met someone in my situation from last year. I understood exactly why he spends sleepless nights thinking about hockey; I’d much rather spend those sleepless nights watching it. This great passion we share brought us together, and we now have someone to watch illegal, blurry, laggy streams of games with. Or we could just talk hockey for a few hours over a couple beers. Or over a glass of good, fresh, pasteurized milk, just to combine the two things we miss the most from home.

Written by gstmaurice

October 7, 2009 at 6:44 PM

Does this blog already exist in the Blogosphere?

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It seems that in this mundo de blogosphere, where there are blogs about scrapbooking, cooking, social media and sports… millions upon millions of them of every detail of every topic imaginable, there probably is already a blog out there about the exact same topic.  Maybe it is.  But that isn’t important.  Instead I have several related blogs and websites to recommend to anyone interested!

Although writing about washing machines in the kitchen and people talking loudly on their cellular phones may sound like a fun, silly topic, writing about the cultural differences you experience while living abroad can actually be a commentary on much deeper issues.  These simple anecdotes can have roots based on the history of our countries, differences in politics, and the resulting sociological outcomes.  Although we have begun the blog with very simple topics, if Gabe and I were to spend many more years here in Spain, or elsewhere in Europe, our commentary would likely begin to uproot more of these deep seeded issues.  I would like therefore, to reference Expat Abroad, a blog I ran across about another ex-pat woman living in the Middle East.  I wanted to show this blog as an example of one direction a blog like ours could take.

Other blogs have a lighter take on the life of an expat.  A good example would be Erik’s Blog– thoughts and photos from an American living in Spain.  Erik uses post titles such as “Thinking in Green”, “Zappatero’s daughters” and “Metric Money” to make comic reference to some of the cultural, and language differences he has encountered while living in Spain.


I have also discovered several websites that speak to the topic of erasmus (Europe’s version of study abroad) or studying abroad.  A good website I have found that help’s to prepare you for the difficulties you will encounter both before leaving the United Sates, and upon your arrival in a new country is in the international travel section of the U.S. Department of State website.  Here you will find advice for getting your student Visa, as well as some great deals for students and teachers while studying abroad.

The last website I would like to recommend is the British Councils website on Erasmus, which explains the concepts behind Erasmus, or studying abroad.  It has case studies, statistics, things to know before you go, and a place to apply.  On this website you can browse all kinds of things you might want to know before embarking on the erasmus (study abroad) experience.

Written by iamandreaholm

September 30, 2009 at 11:01 PM

First Thoughts

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To choose the theme for our blog, Andrea and I had to find something we had in common. Sports didn’t quite do it (except Ultimate Frisbee) and we decided instead to go with something more intellectual but just as interesting and entertaining.

The experience of being an international student is, after all, both fun for the student himself and amusing for the local seeing him (or her) struggle; from our problems with the language, to our shock (and often anger) at seeing stores open late and close early (where’s the 24-hour drive-thru?), and our love of cultural staples like the siesta, our experience in Spain has been difficult, gratifying, frustrating, and enjoyable; it’s been a learning experience where I’ve made great friends.

It’s a subject that is easy for us to write about, seeing as we are writing about a situation in which we are immersed. It is relevant in that it provides a personal perspective on living in a different culture, something that gains more and more relevance as our world becomes more and more multi-cultural. We will write about our experiences in this culture that, while not so different from our own, has many striking contrasts; we will provide personal anectodes and opinions on certain aspects of these experiences; we will gather input from other international students. In all, this blog will try to give a well-rounded view of our experience here in Spain as international students.

Written by gstmaurice

September 21, 2009 at 11:22 AM