Cultural Experience | Barcelona

20 Signs You Just Finished Studying Abroad In Spain

Why does American money look so fake?

Every country and culture has its own idiosyncrasies and unique way of doing things. When you study abroad in a foreign country, you are bound to pick up some of those cultural differences and apply them to your everyday life. This makes your return to the United States a little bit more interesting. Here are 20 things I noticed upon setting foot in the land of the free:

1. American money looks incredibly fake
After handling Euros for several months, the dollar looks suspiciously like toy money. You may also forget how to use a nickel.

2. You’re going to want to greet people by kissing them on both cheeks
The common Spanish greeting is not that common in the States and may grant some weird reactions. Or a restraining order.

More: The Reality of Reverse Culture Shock

3. What is a car?
Trade that metro pass and your walking shoes for your car keys and remember that things are WAY more spread out in the States.

4. You’re not hungry at normal meal times
Eating at noon and six pm feels like eating breakfast and a mid-day snack compared to your normal meal times.

5. Mid-day siestas are no longer acceptable
What do you mean I have to be productive from 2-6pm?

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6. You’ll casually interject “vale, vale” into a conversation. Multiple times.
The Spanish version of “okay” is meant to show agreement and understanding in conversation; don’t be surprised if it slips out in your next english chat.

7. You miss having a national holiday every other week
America needs to take a cue from Spain and have more national holidays. I.E more days off of work and school.

More: 5 Reasons Every College Tourist Should Experience a Barcelona Festival

8. What are you supposed to do with all the space in your house?
Your entire Spanish piso was the size of your current living room. What are you supposed to do with all this extra space? Dance parties? Dance parties.

9. Cellular data
No more café hopping and searching for Barcelona WiFi for you.

10. Tipping
Tipping is just not customary in Spain. Remind yourself to add that extra percent to your bill or risk the wrath of your waiter.

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11. You’re gonna need a break from bread
Yes, the Mediterranean diet is full of vegetables and lean meats. It is also full of corner bakeries and homemade pasteles. Trade in the bread for a nice apple for a few days so you don’t get completely sick of gluten.

12. Bathrooms are free?!
What do you mean I don’t have to pay to perform a basic human function? I can just USE the public bathroom?

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13. You miss picnics
There was something so fun about llevando un picnic at your University or a local park.

14. Weak coffee
American coffee is basically just water with a splash of flavor. And the sizes are HUGE.

15. No one calls you guapa/guapo
It was so nice when a waiter or shop owner would call you guapa randomly. Why aren’t strangers calling you beautiful all the time here?

16. You don’t have to calculate the time difference in your head
You became a pro at subtracting those 6 hours in your head before you called your best friend or parents. It’s so weird just being able to call them and know they’ll be up.

17. Classes in English
you’ve spent 20+ years taking classes in English and yet after a semester of classes taught in all Spanish, a professor teaching in English is the weirdest thing ever.

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18. That building is so boring
Where’s all the Gaudí? Where are the fancy castle-like buildings?

19. Peanut Butter
The nectar of the gods. Oh how I’ve missed you.

20. You use both Spanish and English in one sentence. Accidentally.
When you can’t adequately express yourself in English, you’ll use a Spanish word. When you can’t adequately express yourself in Spanish, you’ll switch back to English. It’s just a whole process.

Both Spain and America have amazing food, lifestyles, and cultures to offer. While it may be a bit shocking to re-enter into your home culture, it’s easy to remember how blessed you are to live in two incredible cultures and get to call them both home.

20 Signs You Just Finished Studying Abroad In Spain

Alyssa Benson

Indiana Wesleyan University | 7 stories

From the Great Lakes State all the way to Barcelona, Spain to study Strategic Communication and Intercultural Studies at the University of Barcelona. I am mildly obsessed with all things pineapples and am always on the hunt for the hidden cafes and viewpoints of my travels. 8 Countries and counting!

One response to “20 Signs You Just Finished Studying Abroad In Spain”

  1. K Benson says:

    LOVED this article and comparison… welcome home!! (aka. US home) ????

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