Thinking of moving to southern Spain? Or even just visiting? Here are some helpful tips that my roommate helped me compile:
- Learn Spanish (I might as well start with the obvious).
- Carry your own shopping bags with you, recycle, conserve water, etc. Europe tends to be greener than America.
- Weigh your produce when you go shopping… or you’ll get to the counter without prices and the cashier might roll her eyes.
- Bring cash. Not every store accepts credit and/or debit cards. And many stores want small change, not large bills.
- Don’t read dates backwards. Dates are written by day/month/year rather than month/day/year. Don’t show up for an appointment on January 2 that was set for February 1.
- Read schedules by the 24-hour clock. Otherwise, you might expect a train at 6 p.m. that actually went at 6 a.m.
- Allow more time to complete tasks. The Spanish are fairly efficient… most of the time. But don’t treat the shopping world like a Wal-Mart. Shops tend to be more specialized and it takes longer to get everything you need (but it’s more fun!). And don’t expect buses to arrive on time… or arrive at all if it’s a holiday.
- Relax a bit. The average schedule runs about two hours later than the American schedule: shops open at 9 or 10. Lunch is at 2 or 3 p.m.
- Don’t try to shop between 2 and 5 p.m. In fact, don’t even bother going outside unless you’re looking for some quality solitude. And in the summer, you might burn to a crisp if you’re out in the hot sun between 1-6 p.m.
- Watch your step. At least in southern Spain, many people have little yippy dogs that leave behind deposits on the sidewalk.
- Realize that when it’s dark outside, it is NOT time to go to bed; the party is just beginning.
- Eat meat. Most Spaniards are unapologetically carnivorous. They especially love pork. (Be prepared to see the jamón serrano everywhere.) Some restaurant billboards would send animal rights activists into a tizzy.
- Don’t expect to find chicken in restaurants unless the restaurant name specifies chicken. Most menus are laden with pork and seafood options.
- Get used to eating bread, bread, bread. Fortunately, the Spaniards are excellent bread makers.
- And learn to love olives while you’re at it. Don’t worry; Spanish olives are amazing.
To be continued as we continue learning…