The culture of Spain, specifically in Granada, is not one too different from that of other Western countries. The people here work, sleep, eat, and play. Keeping that in mind, I see that the largest difference is that these facets of the society, unlike the United States, are done with a sense of balance.
Coming from a culture of excess, it is only slightly refreshing to see certain aspects of this society elevated, while others are muted. For example, the food. Each meal I have eaten so far has consisted in excess of the "dreaded" carbohydrates and veggies with significantly less meat. While I prefer excess spice and heat in my food, here seasoning is used lightly.
In US culture, it seems most people are surviving on some hours of sleep, since work is a high priority. In Granada, rest is crucial as is evident by the four-hour lunch break had by most each day.
Even in the night life, at midnight, I see people of all ages out on the streets eating dinner and going to tapas and bars; while in the US, kids better be in bed by 8:30pm. College students here can hold their liquor, while my American peers seek to indulge themselves most nights.
Last night was telling at how stereotyped American students are in this part of Europe. For example, on Saturday night my roommate and I were resting, waiting on dinner which starts super late here (normal dinner time is around 9:30 pm). My Senora gets home around 9:15pm to start preparing dinner and asks us, "Chicas, are you going out tonight? You're young and beautiful, you should go out! See Spain!"
*Disclaimer: I am sedentary by default, introverted, and prefer to "see Spain" during lit hours with a few people. I'll maybe go out twice a month for a couple of hours. I do not go wild, and anyone who knows me well, knows this.
In response to her, I explained my predisposition. Then, she told us about Americans who lived with her in the past, how they went out every weekend and took shots, etc. Of course, she assumes this of college students in general, but especially in that of American students. My roommate and I found it comical that this was the culture we stepped into, where your Spanish mom is telling you to go out and get a little reckless. After dinner that night, I complied to go to tapas with my roommate since we had been home most of the day. Our favorite place for tapas so far is this place called "La Bella y La Bestia." I'll say this, it was nice. We talked about ourselves and had good conversation. She opened up and so did I. We even had the same waiter who remembered us because I was "the-one-who-ordered-a-Coke-without-rum" and she was "the-one-who-got-the-wine-he-recommended".
In my exploring Spain (during the day) I have met some peculiar people in shops and I have even attended a couple of churches, where I feel I have had the most success in meeting Spanish people (I will write a separate blog post about people who have stood out to me and why). In those simple conversations and positive experiences, I have come to appreciate this culture more.
I enjoy the company, the moderation, and the slow-paced lifestyle. In those things, I have realized the things I do in excess that may need to change. For example, my desire to stay home all the time or eat a lot of spicy food or even wallowing; all are things that I see do not need to be my default. I can enjoy the things around me. In my personal devotional time with God, I have been reminded even more that all my joy and pleasure is in and from Him. All that is good, is from Him. So I take in the good that this experience has to offer, and I thank God for revealing aspects of His goodness in this precious little city.
Fruta en todos lados
La Bella y La Bestia
My hood for the next few months