I (Chad) am starting to enjoy the adventure of stepping outside of the house and taking in Spanish culture. Now that a little more language is under my belt, I ask questions: probably something reminiscent of a child asking his father, “why, why, why…” (hopefully not too pedantically) Here a couple of my most recent findings:
- Your first encounter with a Spaniard is often a little more challenging than the following encounters. Americans, as a general rule, pour on the charm for complete strangers just passing through your cafe, store, etc. Spaniards don’t necessarily deliver such cheerfulness or charm. But, if you remain polite and patient, the next time around there is an expression that is “now we know each other,” and they are much more open.
- The other day I had a Spaniard tell me, “We don’t really have heroes in Spain. You Americans have your presidents, your founders, your athletes that you really like. But we don’t give people the opportunity. For example, many people around here hate Nadal (famous Spanish tennis star) because he’s famous.” I’m still pondering some of the potential implications of this for future interactions in the church, etc.
- Spaniards don’t seem to be as aware as the people around them on the street. Consequently, it is much more common to experience physical contact with someone: you bump into someone, or someone touches you on the shoulder in the metro to indicate they are passing by. What to an American seems like an invasion of private space is not an invasion to a Spaniard.