Well, I have almost finished my immersion courses-I cannot believe I have been here nearly two weeks! Nor has it quite set in that I will be living here for months!
Today in class we discussed different customs in Spain, and in particular in Salamanca. It was quite an interesting discussion, comparing Spanish traditions to ours in the states.
My favorite is the midday break, commonly referred to as the "siesta." I learned that this word has two different meanings, but is usually applied to a short nap (15-45 minutes) after eating, and is intended for the children. However, the term is also applied in general to the habit of returning home to eat lunch. In larger cities in Spain this isn't widely practiced. I pass families walking home to eat everyday (my favorite is a grandfather and two young, boisterous, granddaughters). My "profesora" told us that this part of the day isn't just about eating lunch, but also spending time with family. If you eat a sandwich in the car, for instance, it really isn't considered a meal. I like this tradition (and I won't lie, I like my siesta, too!). It encourages a greater respect for family life, and refocuses energy...There are two different schedules for stores and businesses here. The hours might be all day 8:00-5:00, or broken up, with a break around the siesta. The places I pass on my walk home are usually closed, but this isn't because they have to follow the siesta pattern.
Let's see what else...
It is "mal educado" or rude to have bare feet in the house...I prefer bare feet to anything else...so the day Tina (my host "mom") pointed to my feet and said something about slippers, she wasn't just curious, she was wondering why I was wearing only socks! Oops!
It is rude to stretch in front of people. Even if you are with your family, it is expected that you go to another room, stretch, and then return...
Here you do not tip servers, unless the service was exceptional.
A bar or restaurant with a lot of trash on the floor indicates the food is good!
Physical contact is quite natural; personal space doesn't really exist!
It makes sense, then, that a common greeting (even when meeting a person for the first time!) is "dos besos" or a kiss on each cheek.
Wine and beer are not considered alcoholic beverages.
Apparently (I didn't quite follow the reasoning) when it is 2:00 in the afternoon, according to the sun it is really 12:00, and when it is 9:00pm it is really 7:00. Therefore, the Spaniards eat at the "correct" or natural time, and the rest of the world eats early...
I am sure I will learn more as the days continue!
I miss you all, and remember, I will happily be your Spanish tour guide when you visit!
P.S. I learned my address today, let me know if you would like it!