I love questions. And of course, I love answers. Today this article’s main question is going to be about… Spain! As you have noticed, I am writing it in English, because I want all my fellow Erasmus amigos to get what I am saying. First, thanks to all of you who took a little time to answer my question – pretty much out of the blue, I must say! It was fun to hear of all you, because each one of us came to Spain with expectations, and we were sometimes surprised. In a good… Or bad way. Torreros, paella, beaches, sun, discos and sangria… Is that Spain, really? Here is a collection of some voices who can tell you more about it all 🙂

“For me Spain is a country of surprises with beautiful landscapes.” Sylvie, Liège, French Belgium

“I used to think that if I were president, I would delete siesta, but that is not true anymore. I love the way of life. And the language. And the kindness. And paella. And their mentality – can I say that? And because of Barcelona! Is that enough? Oh, and that everything is easy going. Aaaaaah! I love Flamenco. And the colour of Spain is definetely red, because of passion. I always think about the frexeinet comercial. (10 minutes of thinking later) But Spanish people are too much in love with themselves… It is like: “OK, look at us we are Spain… Even when we are in a crisis Spain is sooo beautiful”. This sucks” Sofia, Stuttgart, Germany

“I love that they live life the fullest and embrace everybody with kindness. Spain isn’t only warm because of the weather but also because of the people.” Kim, Utrecht, the Netherlands

“After spending 2 months here in Valencia, I can clearly say it’s the best destination I could ever choose for an Erasmus! First because Spain is very welcoming country, with a very important historic heritage and a very pleasing climate!! Espacially here when you still can enjoy 30°C in October… ! And the sandy beaches! Spanish people are really nice here, as well as the Erasmus, who you feel like forming a big community with. Plus, in Valencia, you can party every single day of the week if you feel like it, since there are so many bars and discos and Erasmus oranizations everywhere!” ClĂ©mentine, Lille, France

“Spain is diverse, colorful, crowded, loud, unusual, warm, and Spanish night life never ends! Spanish people are warm-hearted, cheerful, lazy, cozy, flirty, fun and smiling. They doze at day and live at night!” Anna, Kiev, Ukraine (a traveller, just passing by)

” Uhmmm… Spain is a very (sometimes too) easygoing country. With nice weather, good food, pretty cities and nature… AND STUPID SPANIARDS!! No, take that out… Oh and by the way… Everything smells like shit. Literally. And NO ONE speaks English… But yes, they try and are very helpful once they understand you. But I feel like Spain is very far away from “Europe”… You have Europe, with Germany and France and England and Belgium and Italy and Switzerland and Austria. And the East. And Spain… Like a different mentality.” Nele, Puurs, Flemish Belgium

“Spain? Ouh… Of course I can! So… About people… They are kind, open-minded, like to talk in long sentences and… Generally I think they LOVE to talk. That’s why everything is going slower… But at least nicer for sure. Spain like country is very beautiful, with nice architecture and long history… That, in my point of view, makes Spain even more attractive. And what surprises me the most is that they have a siestas, when everything is closed… And Spanish people have dinner at midnight… That is completely opposite to Latvia!” Janis, Riga, Latvia

“I was surprised to find that many people here eat relatively moderately unhealthy foods (high in carbohydrates, cholesterol, etc.) but are in great shape due to their constant physical activity. While I for some reason had expected the academics to be less challenging than my home university, I would say that the difficult is just about the same. The people here seem to live life the fullest by eating, drinking, sleeping, laughing and dancing at every waking moment. But it can be a bit frustrating when I need to contact someone or accomplish a task and find that everything and everyone seems to be “off duty”. There also seems to be a large number of small dogs in Valencia that are constantly barking at all hours of the day, which can be difficult to handle when it’s time to study. Had to throw this one in since I’m experiencing it as we speak! Contemplating throwing a piece of poisonous meat over to their balcony… Thoughts?” Morgan, Cleveland, Ohio

“As far as culture, tradition and gastronomy are concerned, Spain is a very rich country. It has big metropolitan cities as well as small village that are a delight to visit. Spain is a destination that must figure in every traveler’s destinations  lists of the world! What surprised me? The amount of marihuana youth smokes. That really surpised me.” Lenni, Mexico City, Mexico (another passer-by)

“Spain is a really nice place to be. The weather is amazing and I think this reflects on the people. People are generally good-mooded and friendly, always asking ¿quĂ© tal? 🙂 You can find a big variety of food and shops- a thing I really enjoy. And of course spanish people definetly know how to enjoy life: not beeing stressed but relaxing, having good food and wines, going out to party! On the other hand you can feel that the economic situation is not that good at the moment… There are a lot of beggars.” Rika, Tägerwilen, Switzerland

“Spain is beautiful country with beautiful culture and most importantly enthusiastic and jovial people.What makes it even more unique is its landscape, it has high plateau known as the Meseta Central. It also has many coastal plains, lowland river valleys, mountain ranges. Just name it and you have the choice to spend your time visiting different famous sites. The food is delicious and exotic and the weather is perfect all year round. In one word Spain is paramount of joy and happiness.” Nisha, Bhutan 

“In two sentences, here everyday attentions and thoughts are the must. People enjoy exchanging two words, meeting at the bottom of their buildings to talk shit. And clearly, when it comes to sports, passion for soccer is like multiplied by 10. Apart from this, the negative point is that it’s a bit dirty in the streets, and they drive like crazy!” Florent, Pau, France

So, feel like going to Spain for a while? 🙂
Now what do I think of it…
Spain is definitely noisy, and that shows how lively it is. People live, tranquilos, and they do enjoy every single day. They go to the restaurant, drink, smoke, dance, they have tiiiiiime for everything. They’re usually in a good mood and happy and always there if you need them – or does this only counts for Valencianos?

Something I will miss: food! Fruits and vegetables are really tasty. Tapas are cool as well. Aaaand I will definitely miss the kindness of people… I didn’t feel that it was the “usual” one, the warm atmosphere you can find in Belgians or get from Eastern Europeans once you got to know them; I felt that, when they said they could help if we needed anything, they really meant it. Or I might have been lucky and stumbled upon the good ones… QuiĂ©n sabe. As far as Valencia is concerned, I will miss running in the river. Hm, that’s definitely something you can only do there. For the story, El rĂ­o Turia was once filled with water, but not so long ago (at the beginning of the 20th century, according to this) there was a huge flood and the Valencians had to divert the river and then turned its bed into a wonderful playground/green treadmill/theme park/culture centre. I would run a few minutes, get down a few stairs and there, the perfect green area every runner would enjoy.

Something I won’t miss: people interrupting each other. That’s a big difference with France or Belgium, or even Germany and the States, and when you’re not accustomed to it, it can be particularly disturbing, and even more if you’re a little shy or just not used to tell out your thoughts when not asked to. We had trouble with a teacher because of that cultural difference… But that’s another story.

All in all, you should go to Spain, don’t hesitate, just because it’s NOTHING like Europe. Nor Africa. Nor other Mediterranean countries. Go and see. 526923_599345350109131_592742856_n

The picture was taken at the end of September by a friend when she came to visit me. If you’re lucky enough, you get this view as a welcome gift from the beautiful Valencia. The blue area is the water that surrounds the buildings of the City of Arts and Science at the South end of Turia, where you can find (from left to right) the Palau de les arts, the museu de las ciencias, and the OceanogrĂ fic. 

españa salir:ir a cenar

“In Spain, coming back home before 3am is not going out, it means going out for dinner.”

Now don’t think I’m plugging McDonalds, I’m just using this ad because it is true. People go to the restaurant at 10, and if you meet at 10.30 to have drinks, it’s quite early. Also, don’t bother going to a club before 2… Unless you go with 50 people, it will be empty. So yeah, it basically means you’re in bed around 7, and that would be the earliest. 

About the Author

Ely Bakouche

I'm Ely, pronounced Ellie, or /eli/ if you speak phonetics. I'm the maker behind EB's Notebook, where I explore other ways to live and work as a creative, always keeping in mind the sedentary, competition-obsessed, productivity-centered world we live in. Click 'about' to learn more about this space, the people who help me bring it to life, and the other projects I'm involved in.

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