When you move in a new neighborhood you get to discover a new grocery store, a new place to hang out or a new park but you get to feel a little disoriented when your coming back home from work for awhile. I got that even when I moved 5 blocks away. You have the familiar part still hanging on, from one point of reference, your old job and it’s surroundings. Until you thread your way home, your new home. In the beginning, many times when I got to the new, unfamiliar part, I would just walk past my place without stopping until I had realized I was too far. It took some time to readjust the internal compass to hone my direction to know instinctively where I was.
Now take the same principle and throw yourself 6000 miles away, on a different continent, different culture, different language and try to orient your bearings from that point. Where do I begin? Absolutely nothing is familiar except that I’m amongst humans and we have clothes on, we eat, poop, cry, laugh and sleep the same way. Else from that, you’re on your own.
Culture is a result of it’s environment and it’s shared values, including a multitude of factors. And that goes for Americans as well. For instance in Spain where it is mostly sunny and warm year round, rarely you will see a electric clothes dryer in the house, the majority of it is dried on the clothesline outside. And because of that hot weather during the sunniest and hottest hours of the day people used to have a siesta (not so much nowadays with the latest generations) . They have adopted the American way of life since and keep busy, but business hours have stayed the same as in the days of the siesta. That makes for very long workdays if you ask me. They work until way past 9:00 P.M. And that brings us to food, when you are preparing to go have a nap you don’t tend to eat as much beforehand, hence the traditional Merienda around 1:00 or 2:00 P.M, consisting of a light snack or lunch to sustain you until supper. Americans are used to eating supper around 5 :00 P.M but since the Spaniards have their light lunch and work late hours still following the old schedule, which is no longer relevant, they have supper around 9:00 P.M and even later. After work, most of them too exhausted from their long days make a beeline for the closest bar and stuff their faces with tapas and Vermouth until way past of what’s considered reasonable weekday bedtime for most Americans.
What I want to say is, this North American still has a long way to adjust to his new time zone but I’m getting there. In my next blog I will continue our discussion on the differences between the two cultures and what it means to adjust to it on a daily basis. Till then, adeu!