They speak Spainish in Spain.

Cultural Experiences of International Students in Spain

Posts Tagged ‘International

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

Spainish; Initial thoughts

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This is not my first time living in a new culture.  The United States itself has uniquely different cultures within it.  This would make sense, as the size of the United States is over twice the size of the European Union.  (Look here:  I experienced this first hand when, post college, I moved from the mid-west to the west coast, and then shortly after from the west coast to the east coast.  Even though I was still in the same country and under the same overlying political structure, each place had a very different dynamic to it.

But this blog is not about my cultural experiences within the United States.  This blog is about the cultural differences I face as an American living here in Spain.  I hope to tell anecdotes that give a peek into Spanish culture as well as into my own.

A few small things to begin with:

Washing machines in Spain are in the kitchen.  Not in the basement.  People here do not have basements.  Most people live in pisos, or apartments.  That would explain no basements.  But the few houses I have seen maintain the no basement rule.

My piso is on the first floor.  In the United States first floor means the same thing as ground floor.  In Spain they have floor zero.  My first floor piso is therefore up one flight of stairs.  I don’t know anyone who lives on floor zero, but I imagine it would be strange to say that you live on the zero’th floor.

In Spain milk comes in cartons.  It is not sold in the refrigerated section.  It is on the shelf with the rest of the dried and canned goods.  People usually buy these cartons in eight packs and store the extras in the cupboard.

Spanish people speak very loud on cell phones.  My roommates are like mice and rarely come out of their bedrooms, but on their cell phones they are loud.  I can hear them anywhere in the house.   I have no idea why this is.

Spanish people do not get thirsty the way Americans do.  My friend told me that Americans are easy to spot in Europe.  They are always carrying great big bottles of water, he says. This is true from what I have seen at the University.  The American students  carry with them  small plastic (or tin reusable) water bottles; and they sip during class.

Written by iamandreaholm

September 19, 2009 at 5:04 PM