With only a week left until I take my last exam and my mom comes to spend ten days here in Spain before taking me back to the U.S., I can’t help but be a little excited to see my mom and go to the States. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m pretty sad to be leaving Salamanca, but I also can’t deny that I’ve really missed some American things! So here’s a lighthearted post listing all of the things I’ll cry tears of joy over as soon as I get back, as well as a few of the things I’m going to miss about Spain.
- Iced coffee: Y’all, it has been so long since I’ve had a good iced coffee. Much to my dismay, I discovered that in Europe, iced lattes are made exactly the same as hot lattes (meaning, with hot, steamed milk) poured over ice, resulting in weirdly lukewarm drinks, rather than the refreshing iced drinks (made with cold milk) we’re used to in the States. I’ve already asked my dad to please take me to my favorite local coffee shop for an iced hazelnut latte on the way home from the airport. That’s how much I’ve missed it. (1a: I’ve also missed plain, black drip coffee. It’s such an economical way to get your caffeine, but the Spanish prefer espresso.)
- Clean, free public bathrooms: Can anyone explain why I’ve been paying anywhere from ten to fifty cents to use restrooms in restaurants I’ve already bought something in, only for there to be no toilet paper, no soap, no paper towels or functioning dryer, and half the time, not even a toilet seat?! Yeah, me neither. You never realize how blessed you’ve been your whole life until you’re caught hovering over a seatless toilet bowl in a Spanish bathroom with no TP in the dispenser and no tissues in your bag. And I paid to use that bathroom!
- Spicy food: The Spanish believe in two seasonings—salt and olive oil. In a city like Salamanca, where there are few options for ‘ethnic’ cuisine, it can be nearly impossible to find truly flavorful food, whether that be Indian, Mexican, Vietnamese, or even just something with a little season-salt. When I go back to Chicago, I can’t wait to visit my favorite Ethiopian and Mexican restaurants right away.
- Nature: Being from a relatively rural area outside of St. Louis, I spend a lot of time outdoors. That was not really possible in Salamanca, and my best option was spending endless afternoons by the río Tormes when weather allowed. Although I’ll only be in Missouri for two weeks before heading back up to Chicago, I plan to fill those weeks with hiking, swimming, beekeeping, and even yardwork—it’s good for the soul. And once I return to Chicago, I’ll spend all my free afternoons swimming in Lake Michigan or biking along the shore.
- U.S. Business hours: In Salamanca, a relatively small and more traditional Spanish city, nearly every store closes for at least two hours in the middle of the day for lunch (usually 2:00-4:00 or so), as well as not opening on Sundays. I respect the emphasis on family that this practice encourages, but also, I miss the culture of convenience in the States. I can’t wait to go to Target during lunchtime or grocery shop on a Sunday!
And now, for a few of the many things I’ll miss about Salamanca that I wish I could bring back to the U.S. with me:
- The nightlife: A combination of the early American schedule, cover charges, and higher drinking age will be leaving me missing weekends in Salamanca, where it’s perfectly reasonable to sit at a bar sharing a bottle of wine and talking with friends until one or two, before going “out” in the American sense until 5:00 or 6:00. Shockingly, paying $15 to be in a club until it closes at 2:00 just doesn’t sound as fun anymore. And American Top 40 has nothing on reggaetón.
- Endless pastries: Anywhere you go in Spain—café, restaurant, bar, grocery store—you will find pastries. How am I going to live without a chocolate napolitana for breakfast and another for an after-lunch snack every single day?! Relatedly, there’s an espresso machine in pretty much every food establishment, and I will greatly miss my unlimited access to cheap lattes with every meal.
- Living outside: In Salamanca, if the weather permits it, you are outside. Going for a walk, eating on the patio, chatting in the plaza, lounging by the river—you name it, and it probably happens outside. I really love how much time is spent outside here, and I’m going to miss the option of eating outside at every restaurant and the existence of plazas when I come back to the U.S.
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Whenever I have access to a kitchen, my hobby of baking and decorating cakes, cupcakes, and countless other sweets gets out of hand! Not even a tiny dorm kitchen can stop me from making enough cake to last my entire hall a week. A fun fact is that I have only been to Taco Bell once in my life.