What a Shock | Teen Ink

What a Shock

March 11, 2008
By Anonymous

Spain, a culture shock, is the definition of my trip. Spain is in a totally different continent than the United States. A language is spoken there that I had been studying before leaving the States. Spanish wasn’t my first language and definitely a language much easier to learn than English. However, there are a couple of different dialects of Spanish and I only learned one.
Flying to Spain was a shock in its self. A flight lasting three to four hours got me to New York and in another eight hours I arrived in Madrid. I have never wanted so much to get up and run five miles. The funny thing was, due to jet lag, I wanted to go to bed. The only problem was it was dark and everyone was sleeping in Kansas City but in Madrid everyone was just beginning their day. I would be up for a straight twenty-four hours, something that I never take part in at home.
While taking a city tour, one of four things we did at every city, I waved and smiled to the firefighters in the passing engine. Waving to firefighters, policemen, or even truck drivers was the way my parents brought me up. That is definitely part of the Spanish culture in general. Waving to me or even smiling has a totally different connotation in Europe, not hello. My friend, who was born in Europe, told me that waving or smiling to people you don’t know means you “want to get to know them”. HELLO! I am seventeen and the firefighter looks like he is 40. EWW! He wasn’t even kind of cute to off set what I had just learned. That was enough for me, no more waving or smiling to cute guys.
Not waving to cute guys was hard to do. With narrow roads, many people walk or take the subway; you see an abundance of attractive guys but I had to keep telling my self “don’t look at them or you’re going to mess things up”. I had to look. He smiled at me so I smiled back and then he whistled. WRONG! I told myself many times after that no matter where we were subway or street, not to really make eye contact with anyone if I was in a good mood.
A trip of a life time, a memory that will never be forgotten, an adventure that added to my perspective and personality. I learned one major thing from that trip, act like you have lived there all your life. The Spaniards probably knew that we were American but they didn’t treat us like Americans. They treated us like other Spaniards because we were open to trying new cuisine. Squid fried in its own ink, sardines, tortilla Espanola, and Patatas Bravas were all new foods to everyone that traveled with me. The cool thing about trying new food was just that, everyone kept an open mind and at least tried everything.
Keep an open mind and learn the culture before you travel to a foreign country so you don’t get into a situation like mine. If you get the chance try and learn the language so that you don’t stick out in the country like a sore thumb. It may save your life if you get lost. Just a thought, I am speaking from experience!

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