…that Make Me Sound like a Spoiled Rotten American Brat:
**I hope there are no misunderstandings– I absolutely LOVED my time in Spain; there are many things I liked about it that I felt were much better than what we have in the United States, and I have plans to move back there in the future. I did, however, experience culture shock while I was there, and wanted to share parts of my experience with you. These are the things that I missed from my life in the U.S., and how I felt about it at the time.**
1. Dryers: I missed the feeling of warm clothes right out of the dryer. And closely related to that…
2. Fabric Softener: Need I say more?
3. To-Go Boxes: If I paid for it, why can’t I take it home with me to finish eating later? *pouts*
4. Customer Service: I received great customer service at many restaurants, but in my experience, poor service occurred far more often than what we (the U.S. American students) were used to. Sometimes, our waiters were obviously in a sour mood, or you could tell they were treating us differently for being foreigners (I know it wasn’t because we were acting obnoxious or anything like that; my group of friends was really respectful and we always tried our darnedest to integrate). We just chalked it up to the fact that the waiters in Spain don’t work for tips, so we figured they might not care as much about making a good impression on the study abroad students. Whatever the case, when ever we had a negative experience in a restaurant, we’d miss the customer service we had grown up with.
On the flip side, I’d like to mention that I really enjoyed how the waiters in Spain don’t hover around your table nagging you with the endless cycle of, “Is everything alright?” and “How is everything here?” or “Can I get this plate out of your way?” I worked at a restaurant in the U.S. before coming to Spain, and we were taught to constantly check on the customers, so I know what it’s like both from the customer’s perspective and the waiter’s. Before leaving for Spain I’d never noticed it, but since my return to the U.S. it has taken me a while to get used to again.
5. Cleaning Up After Your Dog: FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS GOOD AND HYGIENIC! Many in Sevilla cleaned up after their dogs, but many didn’t. There was doggie poo all over the place! Not just on the grass; 50% of it was right in the middle of the sidewalk. I had way too many close calls!
6. Tissues: If I had a runny nose, toilet paper was my only option. Where the Kleenex at? (Towards the end of my stay in Sevilla, I found tissues at a Mercadona, so I just figured that my host-mom wasn’t in the habit of buying them.)
7. Chocolate: The selection in Sevilla was very limited, and very expensive. *sigh* What’s a girl to do?
8. Free refills: Especially for water. One tiny glass of water with my meal wasn’t enough, and I was often dehydrated. I got accustomed to carrying a bottle of water around with me and refilling it whenever the opportunity presented itself.
9. Peanut Butter: Peanut Butter. Peanut Butter. PEANUT BUTTER.
10. 24-Hour Convenience Stores: What if I felt sick all of a sudden and wanted to make a midnight run to the local 24-hour pharmacy to get some Tylenol? Or, more importantly, if I got the 4 AM munchies after partying with friends??? I finally found a 24-hour store near the Alameda de Hercules in May, but by then I only had 2 weeks left in Sevilla!
11. Central Heating: It could get REALLY cold in our apartment at night during February. Brrr!
12. Big Breakfasts: Toast drizzled with olive oil was nice, but on Saturday mornings I missed pancakes with maple syrup and whipped cream and blueberries. Or a bagel with some cream cheese spread on it. Or muffins. Mmmmm….
13. Blueberries: I never once saw a single blueberry in Spain, and they’re one of my favorite fruits. Sad face.
14. Limes: I only saw lemons in Spain. Once on the Balearic Island of Mallorca I saw limes, and I went NUTS. I took a picture of them and started excitedly gesturing for my Mallorcan friend to come over and see the limes I had found. He looked at me like I might need to take a trip to the loony bin. But I was so excited! In accordance with my Latin American heritage, I enjoy putting lime juice and salt on a variety of foods.
15. My Car: I missed you, baby! The bus was fine (public transportation in Spain is actually pretty awesome), but it couldn’t compare to the freedom that a car gives you. However, I did enjoy that a car wasn’t necessary like it often is in the U.S. — I really enjoyed strolling around the city to admire the beautiful buildings and parks (while avoiding stepping in dog poop).
16. Free Public Restrooms: More often than not I’d have to duck into a café or a McDonald’s and buy the cheapest thing so I could officially be a “customer” who was allowed to use their restrooms. This was also a problem at beaches. There weren’t public restrooms close to the beach, so in February and March when the water was WAY too cold to wade in past your knees, we’d have to make a long trek away from the beach to find any bathrooms.
17. Free Public Swimming Pools: Right around when May came along, I was really missing being able to take a dip in a nice, refreshing pool, but it was not a good deal for me to pay for the membership costs because I would be leaving Sevilla very soon.
And last but most certainly not least:
18. My Family: I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Question for the Readers: What, if anything, have you missed from your home country while you were abroad?
Sometime in the near future I’ll start posting about this odd creature called Reverse Culture Shock, and the things I miss from Spain now that I’m stateside. Quick preview: almost everything!