I learned a lot of things while I was in Spain. The memories I take with me from that trip will stay with me forever, and I am honestly a better person because of it.
I love learning! I try to learn new things every day, which is why I chose education for my research project. Education is an important staple in any successful society, and I was intrigued to find out how the Spanish education system differed from our own. We did not learn a whole lot about the education system while we were in Spain, but we did get to visit the Universities of Salamanca and Barcelona!
I knew very little about Spanish education before, besides hat it was rather inexpensive. I had assumed that it was almost the same as ours!
Spain had a huge surge in education after Franco's dictatorship ended, because his strict education system only allowed for certain amounts of schooling and was mostly military based (also mostly excluded women!) So Spain underwent a large education reform. Since Spanish youths new little of their Spanish pasts and little of the civil war, there was a focus on old Spanish history and less current events were being taught as Spain tried to dig up the past that Franco had buried. Learning a second language besides Castilian is also very important in Spain, mainly due to the Spanish being forced to conform to one language over Franco.
Higher education is very important in Spain, but there is an issue with schools being oversubscribed, so not everyone can get an education. There are about 1.6 million youths currently studying in Spain, which is higher than the EU average, although due to the oversubscription, many students can't study their first choice in school and a large portion of students drop out after their first year as a result. There are a lot of hoops to jump through to get in to a university; a bachillerato must be completed as well as the selectividad entrance exam.
The university of Barcelona was established in 1450, which means they have been enriching the minds of Spaniards for a long time! It educates over 64,000 students and is ranked the 83rd university in the world! It has over 145 diferent graduates programs and is the top school in Spain. The campus is beautiful and the ancient architecture mixed with modern elements makes it a site to se!
The university of Salamanca (where the magnificent Profe studied!) is the oldest school in Spain (it is thought to have been established for religious teaching as far back as 1118 until it was charted officially by the Pope in 1214!) The way the school is run is very old fashioned, and it is also home to the story of the Salamanca frog! It has absolutely astounding architecture and the facade with the Frog was one of my favorite things I saw in Spain! The bar in the old basement of the school was so cool, I wish we had something like that at Carthage! We ran into a young man from the states who lived in Boston and was studying Spanish at the university; He said he loved it so much and that it was such an amazing experience to live and study in Spain! Wow!
I learned lot about the education system of Spain, and I would like to learn more, maybe by actually studying abroad in Spain! After al, they say the best way to learn something is to experience it! I really admire how Spain is trying so hard to fix the things that were wrong with the education system under Franco, and I can't wait to see just how far it can go!
The spanish culture when it comes to food is one that i knew very little about before i went o this trip. I was not as naive as some of my friends from home when it came to the food, but i did not know much. A couple people I told that I was about to leave for spain for two weeks said "oh my i love burritos and tacos!"......... this was something i got a great chuckle out of. Many people think that Mexicans and spanish are he same because they speak a similar language, but they could not be any more incorrect. I knew next to nothing about the food i was going to get in spain until we had our class before the trip. I knew that they loved their ham( which is completely true) and that i would most likely not see a hamburger in to weeks. What i can say though is in these last two weeks i have had some of the best food i have eating in my life from the seafood, to the paella, and those amazing spanish omelettes. I did not know what to expect going in but my did i love every bite i took!
When we first got off the bus on the first day in madrid we walked right into a place called the Ham museum, and well that was the start of a theme on this trip ham, Ham, and MORE HAM! Do not get me wrong the Ham in spain is delicious, but after having it for 6 meals in a row it can get a little old. The epitome for me of no more ham was when i was in a small bar restaurant in Barcelona and all i wanted was a hamburger, but what i got was a "Ham"burger. After that incident i kinda swore of ham for the rest of the trip granted that was only 3 more days but still!
Some of the best food that i had in Spain was the seafood, i am a big fish lover in the first place and in Spain i had some of the freshest and most delicious fish dishes that i have ever eaten. Paella with every bit of seafood you can imaging stew together hot and teeming with flavor, i could not get enough. In the underground choir club the piece of fish they served us with that sauce!! I could of eaten 4 maybe 5 helping of that it was so good. The moment i got back in the state i looked up immediately how to make the seafood like in spain and that is something that i am going to miss dearly.
A big thing that we all had a lot of in spain was Tapas. These small cheap appetizer like things you get with your drink for free(or a big plate for like 4 euro). by themselves these like delights are wonderful, but with a drink in hand, and the company of great friends this can be an even more enriching experience of camaraderie and friendship. Something that i really realized in spain were that two things in life bring people together no matter the language gap, race, or personality difference and that is Music and Food. That is a really powerful thing. Tapas are the top food for that kind of culture and they can be anything for little bits of squid to hummus on bread, but they are all delicious.
Something that really messed with me in Spain was the times that they eat and getting used to the new schedule. they eat breakfast at a pretty normal time (or at least we did), but then everything else was pushed back super late in the day. I know that they go out for Tapas snacks throughout the day, but not having a real meal until like 2pm really messed with me for a bit. Dinner was also a whole different story having it a 10 at night just felt a little wrong. so the first like week my stomach grumbled at very inconvenient times! In the end i was very used to this though and it all turned out fine, but it was quite a strange adjustment.
The food in Spain is something that i will miss the most. The atmosphere of the restaurants the amazing people i was with. It all made this trip one that i will always cherish and never forget. All i can say is that i know Old Madrid the restaurant in Racine is going to be seen in my near future!
I chose musical instruments for my topic because Spain has a large variety of musical influences. I was interested in learning about the different autonomies and their unique musical styles and influences. Before this class, I knew of flamenco music and Spain being the origin of classical guitar....and that was about it. As we learned about the culture before our trip, it was interesting to find that the northern and southern regions had their own unique styles. While flamenco was predominant in the southern areas of Spain, the northern regions (especially in Galicia) have many Celtic and Gaelic influences. My personal favorite of the music we explored was the really 90s music video....trust me you guys know which one...
Topic: Issues of Communication for foreigners while visiting Spain.
Communication between humans and the different mediums that we use to communicate has been an interest of mine for many years. I’ve studied how humans interact within the same culture, but when one culture meets another culture all of the general rules about human communication go out the window. From verbal communication, written communication and body language, the differences between the two cultures are many.
Before we went on the trip I knew quite a bit about body language and the tone of voice that Americans use in their daily life. There are so many things that we do that there are way too many to put here. Some examples would be proximity to each other, the way we form our questions, the tone of voice that we use in certain situations and how we feel about touching each other.
I didn’t have to do much research for this topic as I knew a lot about generalities in this topic and I figured the best way to learn about it was to just experience it. I couldn’t find many sources on cross-cultural communication that were free. There were many books but they were all over fifty dollars and I didn’t feel that a book like that was necessary for this project. Also, we had talked about proximity in conversation during class.
There were many things that I discovered while we were on our trip in Spain. First off, people talk very fast. Not that this would mean anything to a non-Spanish speaker, as they would not be able to understand. Also, people speak very close together. For me, this wasn’t uncommon to me because my family is this way and being close to another person does not bother me. Also, the customary kisses on the cheek do not bother me as I have been luck enough to have been raised in a very cultured lifestyle where I have met many people of different backgrounds and have had this happen to me many times before. I speak a small amount of Spanish so this was a bit of a shock when trying to have a basic conversation with a clerk or server. Ordering food was an interesting experience as well. As far as reading a menu went, I could figure it out for the most part based on context clues and my past knowledge. In the larger cities like Madrid and Barcelona, many street signs had both the Spanish writing on the signs as well as English in subscript. However, in the smaller cities like Oviedo, Salamanca and San Sebastian it was more difficult to get around of your own as everything was in their native language with no translation to anything else.
Often, restaurants would have an English menu that had numbers associated with the entrees so that the servers could figure out what we wanted to order by having the guest point to the number on the menu. This helps a lot when the server does not speak English and the guests do not speak Spanish. It was also very common for restaurants to have menus in Portuguese, French, German and Italian as many tourists come to Spain from these countries during the winter months.
Also, street markers were different that what we see in the United States. In the United States, street markers are directly on the street corner high in the air on a pole. In Spain, they are on a tile that is placed on the side of the buildings. Often, they are very hard to find as they are made to blend into the house. This made it difficult to get around and we often missed streets that we were going to turn on. I understand why this isn’t a big issue for Spanish people. Often, they don’t go far out of their neighborhoods since the cities are mostly pedestrian cities. Therefore, they don’t need the “in your face” markings like we have in America since they know their areas very well.
The airports were very easy to navigate as they almost always had English written in a subscript on the signs and it seemed like everyone in the airport knew English. I actually expected this because around the world, air travel is based on English. This is so that air traffic controllers can communicate with crew effectively during flight and so that there is no confusion between pilots and staff of different nations. This is a world wide standard. Even if a French airline is flying domestically in French and there are no Americans involved the pilots and air traffic controllers still speak in English because that is the standard.
Overall, I think it is very possible for a non-Spanish speaker to survive in Spain for a few weeks. There are many adaptations made in touristic areas to make sure that things can be understood. Although sometimes communicating is difficult, traveling to Spain is well worth the small struggles that you would have. Spain is a fantastic nation with a ton of history and someone should not avoid going somewhere just because they don’t speak the language. How else would the world have expanded if people feared having to communicate in new lands?
Pilar Azmani - Daily Journals
My first encounter with the Spanish culture happened to be on the airplane. Fresh crab was served, that’s new. I noticed how interesting it is to be the person who is the minority language speaker. This is my first time out of the country. It is going well. I’m noticing right away that the portions of food are smaller. Also, lots of cheese and ham. Funny thing: my bartenders name tonight was Pilar! We took a selfie. The bar culture is the same too. Bartenders sometimes buy drinks for people in America and we had the same experience in Madrid.
Monday January 12 MADRID
The lifestyle here is very similar and reminds me a lot of when I lived in Chicago. There are lots of small shops, but in comparison Madrid is much cleaner than in Chicago. I noticed that the garbage men are very active during the night hours, this is different than in America. There are also a lot of street cleaners out at that time. In America I usually only see them after a parade.
Tuesday January 13 TOLEDO
Toledo is one of my favorites so far. There is lots of stone everywhere and the houses and apartments look so different than in America. Also all the cars are stick shift, I’ve tried to learn how to drive one of those before. I have noticed that everything here is very well preserved and that all the buildings are very close together. It is crazy to me some of the tiny little streets some of these cars drive down. Its like every road here is the equivalent size to one of our alleys.
Wednesday January 14 SALAMANCA
The one way that night life is different here than in America is that bars here almost don’t even close. They may stay open until 5 or 6am. That’s nuts! I bartend back in America where most bars close at 2:30 and I can not imagine staying up that late. The people out at the clubs are so fun. They are not drunk, they just casually drink and love to dance. We went to a dance club and danced our butts off. Ladies night is even a thing in Spain. Lucky me.
Thursday January 15 SANTIAGO DE COMPESTELA
I had the most amazing dinner tonight! Soo good. Our server spoke such good English. Actually I have found that a lot of people here speak multiple languages and that is normal. America, we are behind! I better become fluent in another language and fast! We went outside of the church we sang at to bring people in, it was funny, but it worked people came in to listen to us sing in our jackets. The old churches are very cold, no heat. Made for a concert that I will never forget.
Friday January 16 OVIEDO
How does it feel to be an American in Spain? Most Spanish people in Madrid spoke English so that was very convenient, but I realize the further north we go the less common that is. I kind of feel bad that I cant always communicate properly because I don’t know Spanish. It is interesting to be on the other side because I have always been in the majority, with English speakers in America. I feel bad because sometimes they have to work harder to figure out what I want. Most Spanish people I have spoken with have been pleasant, though sometimes there is an occasional unpleasant and less patient person, but I think that can happen anywhere. Sometimes you wont ask for bread and they will bring it to your table and you have to pay for it…interesting.
Garbage pickup in Oviedo is from 8-10pm every night. One is fined $3,000 if you put garbage out before then. Crazy, but the cleanest city in Europe. Oviedo is known for their cidre and let me tell you it is awesome. The pour it from really high up to get it to aerate and people seem to drink it leisurely all afternoon. Everywhere that we went here had very friendly service even though I couldn’t really understand them nor them I. Had a seafood platter. That is a dinner everyone should get to experience. Loved every moment. Coming home from dinner we got lost. Seriously whose idea was it to make all of the roads diagonals, confusing.
Saturday January 17 SANTANDER/SAN SEBASTIAN
Spanish people like dogs. Everywhere you turn there is another person with there dog and their dogs have winter jackets on. Turn one way and you see a dog, turn another and you see families and more families just out enjoying each others company. I love it. The trees which are actually bushes that have been trimmed into trees are full of character. These two cities have a coastline and bay that the view can’t even be described. It’s breathtaking.
Sunday January 18 SAN SEBASTIAN
Here are some random things that I have noticed thus far. There are no Bibles in any of the hotel drawers. There are no coffee makers either. There are no bubblers from what I have seen. Water is gold. We played a game of handball with some of the locals today. It was so fun. I was not the best player, but I bet with some practice I might suck a little less. After losing in that I went and played a game of soccer with a couple of little boys and their dads. It is awesome how welcoming they are to playing with people they don’t even know. We went on a tapas bar crawl. One word: Awesome. A couple girls and I went from bar to bar drinking one beer and choosing one tapas. It was wonderful. Something else I noticed, dogs are often not on leashes here and it is perfectly normal for a dog to accompany their owner in a tapas bar. They just can’t drink. ;)
Monday January 19 ZARAGOZA
Cool city. We saw El Pilar today. It was amazing to see in person what I had studied and then presented. Life in Zaragoza is similar to the other cities we have seen so far. Went to a tapas place for lunch it was great. You can definitely tell the difference between service when you are working for a tip and service when you are not. I should mention that it is cheaper most of the time to drink a beer rather than order a water or soda… interesting.
Tuesday January 20-Thursday January 22 BARCELONA
I have to say that Barcelona is my least favorite city. Something about this city stresses me out. I feel uneasy here. It is so populated by so many different kinds of people from all over that I feel I always have to be on guard. Nice place to visit and experience, but I don’t think that I would ever want to live here.
I went out to a bar tonight and beer on tap is more expensive than beer in a bottle. I asked why because in America it is the opposite. Apparently tap beer is fresher in Barcelona and that is why it is more expensive. This is definitely a different way of thinking.
Friday January 23 MADRID
Flamenco dancers are amazing. I really want to learn. The passion and skill that it takes is really unbelievable. It reminds me of tap dancing.
I left part of my heart in Spain and I intend to go back. Its not goodbye its see you soon!
Post your project on the page with the topic of your choice. In your project you should answer the following questions:
1. Your topic and the reasons of your choice
2. What did you know before
3. Information that you have researched
4.What you have discovered while in Spain: observations, daily notes and pictures
5. Your own conclusions and reflections