05/02/2013

Why Spain isn't England, and other tales

Hola! 

I'd like to begin with a picture from Zaragoza (I really need to start showing you what Zaragoza is actually like).

At Christmas, they build a lifesize Nativity scene in the Plaza del Pilar, complete with palm trees and little buildings that you can walk in. Although I went in the middle of the day, but it's huuuuuge. And excellent.

And now normal service shall resume:

¡¡Han terminado los examenes!! 
Cheeky bit of Spanish there... In the only version of the past tense I can use confidently. It still shows that I've learnt something, right? 

Anyway, the exams. They are truly nothing (NOTHING!) like they are in England. You're actually tested here, like, on things that were mentioned in passing in one class; not that you aren't tested in English universities, of course, those wonderful pillars of education, standing proud amongst a sea of mediocre foreign universities, charging thousands of pounds a year to give us the best education possible (I may be being assessed on my blog...). But seriously, English universities are actually better than the Spanish public universities, of which I attend, and that actually is because we spend so much money to go there. I know; it's a revelation. I know what you're thinking, young English university student with the joy of graduating with £30,000 debt, you're wondering if it's worth it. My answer is yes. Why is it worth it? Because in Spain they still use blackboards. I'm not joking.

This has lead me to consider the differences between our great and noble nation, England, and the equally great and noble (albeit much more confusing) nation, Spain. 

  • I shall firstly address the electric kettle issue. There are none. I've seen one that cost about 35€. I have to heat my water on the hob, and the kettle I use actually whistles. It's like being in the past.
  • No one is fat but everyone eats all the time. 
  • If you don't eat fish, drink wine, or rabbit, you're a social pariah when it comes to eating out. I am a social pariah when it comes to eating out. 
  • I've had a banana and biscuit flavour fromage frais. It was nice, and I thoroughly recommend the English yoghurt sellers to pick it up.
  • I equally think there should be more panaderías in England.
  • Sharing food is normal and you should do it to make friends (I did this today, in exactly the same way I did in Year 2 of primary school: 'Do you want some of my Kit Kat?').
  • A dreadlock mullet (I have no idea if that's its name) is a popular hairstyle. You have to just accept people's lifestyle choices and discuss this with anyone that isn't Spanish.
  • Older Spanish ladies wear mink coats; if they're less fancy, they wear long puffa jacket things with belts, like this, and generally from El Corte Inglés.
  • People use either plain or squared paper in Spain. Lined paper is pretty much unheard of. 
  • When in doubt, compare the weather to England (this works especially well if you're from the North).
  • If you finally get to grips with a verb, don't worry, it can be used 700+ different ways and you can always learn more ways to use it. The fun truly never stops.
  • You have to kiss people when you first meet them on both cheeks. Even if you think they're not Spanish. Besito, besito, besito. 
  • If they don't have a small dog, they're not really Spanish.
  • Dubbed films/TV programmes are common. As are (the truly excellent) game shows.
  • El Corte Inglés is brilliant. It sells everything (relatively expensively, but still...) Want an Innocent smoothie? Corte Inglés. Want something ridiculously Spanish? Corte Inglés.
  • Chino shops also sell everything. Very cheap. Everything. From socks to spanners, and kitchen scales to terrifying statues of Jesus. 
I reckon that's all for now, but I'm going to Madrid next week, so that's a super fun post to look out for!

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