People expect to be shocked when they go to a new country with foreign customs. What isn’t expected is to come home, after months or years away, and totally forget your local customs in your own country. For two years, I’d been bouncing between Europe and the USA. This time I had been abroad for a year. Coming home, I had to break many of the habits I learned in Europe.
- Writing dates was confusing because in Europe it goes day, month then year but America it’s month, day then year. I’ve filled out plenty of forms wrong in both continents.
- Military time is what they use in Europe and it makes more sense. Is it 7AM or PM, that’s a big difference when you are booking a flight! Is it 7 or 19? Now, that is crystal clear. I didn’t appreciate military time until Europe. Now I wish America would get on board and stop confusing themselves.
- Going to the grocery store is always a source of sticker shock. I never spent over 20 Euros at the grocery store in Spain. Then I come here and the same things are twice the price! Especially produce is so much more expensive in America!
- Drinking in the street is technically illegal in Spain. It was pretty much only made illegal because foreigners were ruining it for everyone. However, the police are pretty chill and might ask people to disperse but I’ve never seen an arrest. In America, cops will straight up arrest you for having a beer in a park, no questions asked. If someone isn’t drunk why can’t we just drink in peace?!
- PDA is so taboo in America. Anything sexual makes Americans cringe. I was at a bar last weekend, in America, and a couple was making out. A whole table of guys started shouting at them. It was so rude to me. In Spain, every Friday night there is at least one couple you will spot grinding on each other in the metro. No one stares at them. Everyone just plays their candy crush or reads their books, like mature adults. People f***, get over it.
- Having to even drive a car is so annoying. I went to fill up my car and straight up forgot how to do it. I spilled gasoline all over the side on my car. Then I thought to myself, “F*** driving.” Driving sucks. It’s dangerous and expensive. I wish every American city had a metro.
- Tipping is something you don’t do in Spain because waiters get paid a decent wage. In theory that sounds wonderful but that means food takes forever, waiters don’t check on you and customer service smiles don’t exist. In America, waiters have to care because it’s the difference between them paying their rent or not. I’m so sorry to the few waiters I forgot to tip when I first got back to America.
- Staying up late is something I hate. I love sleep. In Spain, we don’t leave the house for the club until one in the morning. The clubs close at 8AM. Sometimes that was a little too much for me. But in America, clubs close at 2AM and it’s so early! There’s like no time to do anything! I wish there was a happy medium.
- Football versus futbol, I still refer to soccer as football, because they play with their feet and a ball. It makes sense! I refer to football as American football because no other country plays it.
- Being overdressed in America is basically underdressed in Europe. Everyday men and women wear their best looks. Women are in full make-up, heels and dresses. Men are in collared shirts and leather shoes. Then in America, people leave the house in sweatpants and go to the club in jeans.
- Flirting is much more civil in America. Yes, I was on Tinder in both America and Spain. Spaniards wanted to know my address before they knew where I was from or my job. Americans will actually engage in a little friendly banter before sending over a dick pic. I didn’t appreciate that until I moved to Spain.
- And of course, everyone in Spain is late. We would start school late, classes late and even recess late. One time we even started a class 30 minutes late because no pasa nada! Life is meant to be lived not to be rushed, according to Spaniards. Americans have not appreciated my fashionably lateness. I’m working on my punctuality, I swear!
People have been asking me which country I prefer. It’s hard to really stay. I love my friends and family here in America. Spain does have another side to life that I’m glad I experienced. Spain sips on life like a fine wine. America has a tendency to rush through life without noticing the sights. But America is still the friendly familiar face I know and love.