Culture Shock is a Two Way Street

Authored by:
Savi C.

Savi C.

Coming to Spain was all about learning a new culture for me. Living with a family, experiencing their mannerisms, going to school, getting to compare teenagers around the world, trying new foods, you know all that good stuff. However, I failed to realize that I bring my own culture wherever I go whether I like it or not. My culture is my way of life, and because it is all I know, it seems invisible to me. 
Multiple people warned me about culture shock when I arrived and I how I needed to keep an open mind and be ready to try new things. Instead of taking each new thing as a slap in the face I started making a notes list with everything that I noticed was different than my own life. 
    A major difference is that the people here speak very loudly. It is almost like they yell everything they say and when you don’t understand a language it feels like everyone is mad at everyone all the time. BUT THEY ARE NOT. See right there. I was speaking loudly, but not because I was angry, so you could basically call me an española now. Just as I thought they spoke very loudly, it was different for my family too. I say things sometimes and they don’t understand me because I don’t have the same loud, direct tone of voice. A prime example of two different cultures coexisting.
    Another random thing I noticed here is that when someone sneezes people do not say anything. In America, we say ‘bless you’ and I had learned in my Spanish class to say ‘salud’. So first time  heard someone sneeze I followed it up with, ‘salud’ but, instead of a usual response or none at all, they looked at me and laughed. I learned that Americans are weirdly polite in comparison to people in Spain, not in a bad way that is considered to be rude, but just in a different culture type of way. But in that way, we both taught each other something.  
    In Spain meal time is a very big culture shock or me. So there are 3 major meals the just like usual but then are also 2 kinda sorta food times. At around 11 there is a ‘snack time' in the middle of the school day. However, I use the term snack lightly, it is sorta like breakfast part 2. Every single person has a sandwich wrapped in tin foil. It is like it is written in the school rules to bring a tin foil wrapped sandwich and juice box. Like it's the type of thing that nobody talks about, but they all do. So of course I didn't know and I brought some applesauce and was shunned immediately. Yeah, no I was not, however I did get a lot of questions about it. Also side note people don't understand sarcasm here like they do in the states. But there is also this culture of pipas. Pipas are everywhere.  I guarantee that if you are in Spain and you look down, there will be pipas! Pipas translate to sunflower seeds and they come in many different sizes and shapes. I just tried ketchup and mustard flavored and I have to say I am a fan. They don't just eat them, they put them in their mouth, chew it up, and then spit them everywhere. I think of them as more of an activity than snack.
  The whole grade issues just do not happen here. People are just less concerned about everything. There is really not a ton of stress if you fail something. After the teachers grade a test, they announce grades to the whole class, almost like a roll call. The other day, I got a score I didn't like so I reacted and wanted to redo the assigned. All the students couldn't understand why I cared so much. Honestly looking at that it is a better life to live to not get so stressed out about a number.
   All the things I have noticed here are just a matter of different cultures. I think once you identify with the fact that there is not one right way to live and that people tend to acclimate with only what they know, it becomes easier to have an open mind and let yourself learn, take in, and adapt to new things. Not only am I experiencing a new culture, but I am also bring my own wherever I go. 

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