Published: March 30th 2011March 30th 2011
1. The most American influence I have noticed here is in the music. There's a coffee shop that I get a cafe con leche at every day before school. Everything in the shop is in Catalan, but the music consists of Dido, Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and the like. All of the clothing stores play rap and hip hop that was popular in the US a few months ago. Clubs, bars, and metro stations all play American music. There's always someone set up in the metro tunnels playing music and hoping for a bit of extra change. Whenever the music involves more than playing a saxophone or violin, it's of American covers. On Monday I was on my way to the park and listened to a man sing, "I'm stuck in Folsom Prison, and the time keeps draggin' on..." with a Spanish accent.
2. A few days ago I was in the Raval Neighborhood of Barcelona with one of my classes for a field visit. Raval is one of the areas of Barcelona that's still being developed; its population is mostly Arabs and other minorities. It's definitely a good place to avoid at night, although even walking through around 5
pm with my class, there were obvious prostitutes and drugs. While I was there I turned around to see a man with a turban on his head walk into a store; he was wearing a jacket with a logo of a ferry boat on the back. Around the ferry was written "Alaska Marine Highway." How on earth did he get that?
3. Dogs are all over the place here. It seems that every other person has a dog with them. Most of them are small dogs since there's not much room for a large dog in apartments, but every once in a while a German Shepherd or Golden Retriever comes panting along. They are rarely on leashes, very well behaved, and go with their owners everywhere. On the metro, into stores, and down all the busy streets. The sidewalks are hardly ever spotted with dog poo because of the city workers who clean the streets all day and night. The men in neon green suits are on every street sweeping up the abundant cigarette butts, washing the pavement, and emptying the recycling bins that spot every corner.
4. Refrigeration isn't as prevalent as it is at home. In
the grocery store, eggs, milk, fruits, and vegetables are all kept on the shelf. The fruits and vegetables are the best I've had though. Especially the strawberries and peppers... mmm.
5. Spain didn't become a democracy until 1975 and it wasn't until ten years after that that it was able to gain admittance to the European Union. Barcelona is a modern and pretty wealthy city, but as soon as you get to the countryside it's very easy to see the difference between Spain and the more wealthy countries in the EU.
6. We have a cleaning lady. The day we moved into our apartment, one of the staff members from API told us that our cleaning lady would arrive every Tuesday around noon. Our reaction was basically, "Are you serious?! We have a cleaning lady?" But Nuria, from API, seemed even more surprised that we thought it was luxurious to have a cleaning lady. She responded with, "Well don't you all have cleaning ladies in America?" Hmm, nope. Our cleaning lady, I think her name is Ed, comes on Tuesdays and proceeds to yell at us in a strange mix of Catalan and Spanish. She talks so fast
none of us have any idea what she's saying. Our apartment is never that messy, but we started cleaning on Monday nights just to get ready for her to come. Now we all scamper to our rooms and hide there the entire time she is here and cleaning.
7. Everyone here seems to love Obama. There's even a bar in the center of Barcelona called "Obama." It has life sized mannequins inside and the walls are filled with pictures of him. My professors all seem to be a bit obsessed and every so often bring up something he has does that they think is great. Sometimes they compare him to Bush and laugh about how horrible he was. It's entertaining when this happens in my Spanish class because there's this kid in there from Ohio who squirms in his seat and gets red in the face every time Obama comes up. The same kid is in awe that I'm from Alaska because "Sarah Palin is really hot."
8. If I respond to the question, "Where are you from?" with "the US," people tend to look confused, tilt their head to the side and say, "You mean America?" For
some reason the term, the US, really isn't used or recognized. The other day I said I was from the US and the guy said, "Do you mean Great Britain or Australia?" I was confused as to how he got Australia out of that answer, but I said, "No, America." He goes, "Ahhhh, America...." and smiled.
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