Differences Between Spain and the US (Part One)

Maria Amorosso
March 6, 2017

Hello dear readers!

After a brief respite (read: fighting off a cold while figuring out my purpose here in Spain and doing schoolwork/traveling--see past blog post), I come bearing a listicle. Word count is definitely going to punish me, so without further ado, here are the first five differences that I’ve noticed between Spain and the United States!

Be on the look-out for part two.

Food. First off, breakfast here is a joke. I knew about this from my previous Madrid trip, but three years later and I still can’t get over it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m usually rushing from the dorm and a coffee and croissant is all that I can manage, but there’s something about Saturday morning brunch with my best friends that I really miss right now. Here, lunch is the focal point of the day, and things tend to revolve around it. Lunch is so important that they don’t call it “almuerzo” like we’re taught in the US. It’s “comida”, meaning food, and definitely the most important part of the day. Stores, centers and schools will close from the hours of approximately 2-3:30 to accommodate for a big lunch and, depending on how forgiving your schedule is, a slight post-meal respite--the “siesta”.

Business hours: Spain, or at least Salamanca, is a place of tradition. Sometimes it’s nice, because the culture is pronounced and beautiful. Other times, like Sunday afternoon when you want to get groceries before the week starts, it’s inconvenient. Schedules are dominated by siesta and mass on Sunday. One thing that I have found, however, is that, because they eat lunch so late, stores tend to stay open longer. Then again, I go to college way out in the country, so I may have a biased comparison.

Lifestyle: Spaniards (or at least, people in Salamanca) live a very active lifestyle. I remember sitting in class and hearing that 30 minutes of exercise was the average for sustaining health and realizing that I probably walk more than that in two trips to and from the IES Abroad Center to my dorm. Due to not terrible winters and cultural norms, walking is a huge part of the culture here. And, after trying tons of new food, I am thankful for this.

Customer Service: In the States, it’s generally known that the customer is right. In Spain, they laugh at that. They will get to you when they are good and ready, and no sooner. Sometimes you have to assert yourself at the counter and think again if you are sitting at a table waiting to be served, unless you are in a restaurant.

World Awareness: This is probably not a term, but people in Spain (or, at least the ones that I have met) are very aware of politics both in and outside of Spain. Clearly this is due to the rise of politically polarizing leaders and shocking moves like Brexit, but I know for a fact that if a Spanish student was studying abroad in the US, we would not be asking them about the Spanish People’s Party.


I’ll be back soon with part two!


Hasta luego,



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Maria Amorosso

<p>Hi! I&rsquo;m a junior attending Colgate University. I&rsquo;m majoring in Psychology and minoring in Spanish &ndash; I practice it whenever I can! As a multicultural student (half black and half Italian), I consider myself a city girl and am drawn to vibrant, diverse areas. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, traveling, going to the beach, and watching or playing sports. I can&rsquo;t wait to head to Salamanca, sharpen up my Spanish and share my adventures!</p>

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