Culture Shocks

Dominic Sari headshot
Dominic Sari
February 6, 2024

Well it's almost been three weeks since I have arrived in Madrid and with all due respect to the United States, I would like to move here indefinitely. I’m not sure how to convey this drastic decision but I am going to explain my delusions to everyone!

I live in Manahawkin, New Jersey. The name Manahawkin literally translates to the land of great corn and my township was branded “Tree City.” There are 2 roads, and we finally got a Popeye’s this year. Our “nightlife” if going to half apps at the rickety Applebees that looks like it withstood time itself and needs to be put out of its misery. I grew up in a town where everyone knows each other and at one point there were more horses than people. 

Flash forward to my first three weeks in Madrid. Restaurants stay open until 2 a.m. and everything is a hop, skip, or a metro away. I truly think that Spain cracked exactly how to live life and us Americans decided that we should live sub-optimally. 

But ANYWAYS, not going to be too bleak about America right now. Today’s blog is going to be about daily life and culture shocks since I have arrived in Madrid.


Daily Life

So my daily life is definitely not what I was expecting. When I am at school I usually meal prep, breakfast at 8 , lunch at 12 and dinner around 6:30, I am in bed by midnight and up the next morning at 7. I would say this is a pretty typical American day for a college student. In Madrid if I told a local that I think their head would explode. If I were to recap a typical day in my life in Madrid it would be:

10 - Wake up snooze my alarm and fall back asleep

10:30 -  Actually wake up and get ready for class

10:45 - Leave and grab a Chocolate Croissant from the cafe next door then metro to class

12:00 - Academic weapon my UC3M physics class

14:00 -  lunch break, I either get empanadas or kebabs

15:00 - More class, touching up on my Spanish

17:00 - The grind never stops, on to Linear Algebra

18:30 - head back from Leganes to Madrid 

19:30 - time for the gym!

20:30 - start to look into getting dinner and showering

21:30 - dinner time, nine times of of ten I will be devouring tapas

23:30 - debate whether I should study or hang out with friends until around 3:00


This would be one of my busier Monday/Wednesday schedules. On Tuesday I only have one class at 17:40 and I have no classes Thursday or Friday. I really enjoy the class schedules they promote here for students studying abroad. IES Abroad has made it very easy for me to book travel around my classes so I can go on my dream vacations.



Culture Shocks

This is such a fun little section of this blog because these changes hit me like a bag of bricks.

  • No ice in water/buying water at restaurants
  • Drying your clothes on drying racks is TORTURE
  • Napkins are NOT absorbent in restaurants you need like 100 if you get a burger
  • Some restaurants don't even have napkins
  • Uber is irrelevant use the FreeNow taxi app
  • Siesta, restaurants will close for a period of time around 1-5pm and reopen for dinner
  • Grocery stores are so tiny, I miss Costco and shoprite
  • Do not buy groceries at Corte ingles its way too expensive
  • Not having to tip is so amazing, no hidden fees
  • Almost every coffee/drink I order is served in ceramic or glass, no plastic
  • Jaywalking is extremely frowned upon
  • Phone service was left in the United States


There are definitely so many things I am missing from this list but these are the highlights for sure. I enjoy most of these changes but wish I had the phone service to call my mom whenever I want!

Well that's all for now everyone! I will catch y'all later and tell you about my trip to Barcelona!

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Dominic Sari

Hey everyone! I am currently a junior at Villanova University and I am from Long Beach Island on the Jersey Shore. I love to surf, travel, and I am a Survivor super fan. Even though I will be abroad, I will absolutely be up to date on Survivor 46.

2024 Spring
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Villanova University
Biological Sciences
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