Spain—Random Observations

I’m tired today, but I thought I’d share with you guys some generally interesting things I’ve observed about Spain.

I’ve yet to have an easy time showering in Spain. My current shower has about 60 seconds of hot water, maximum. The hot water heater is the size of a large lunchbox, and I know this because it’s mounted on the wall of the bathroom. So I have time to wash my hair or my body with hot water, but not both. I have ended up taking a lot of cold showers. There’s a metaphor there, but I can’t quite get to it.

People in Spain drink either coffee, or booze, or both with every meal. They eat a ton of starches, they smoke like chimneys, and they generally don’t give a shit about physical fitness. Yet they seem to be healthier than the average American. My guess is it’s a combination of walking everywhere and laughing a lot. Also probably aided by a 35 hour work week.

My teachers are having trouble pronouncing my name. The alphabet is pronounced differently in Spanish, so jay-tee (in English) becomes hota tay (where ‘hota’ rhymes with ‘iota’). One of my current teachers has taken to just calling me Hota (written phonetically, in English), while the other calls me Juan Tomas. I think it’s confusing my classmates, because they speak English and can never figure out who the teachers are talking to.

Speaking of my classmates, I’ve studied with a lot of Germans in the last two weeks. If they are a fair representation of the level of intelligence and work ethic of all Germans, America is totally screwed. Every one of them has been as quick as me in picking up Spanish, if not slightly quicker. There’s no way to say this without sounding conceited, so please bear in mind that I think modesty is silly, and I value honest self-assessment about both your strengths and weaknesses.  No one has EVER been quicker than me at picking up new concepts. It’s honestly one of my greatest strenghts. My memory is shit, but I have consistently comprehended new concepts quicker than everyone my entire life (and I have a BS in electrical engineering). So it’s been a bit shocking to be in class with people who are every bit as quick. It’s like being 6’7” your entire life, and then moving to a town populated only by NBA centers. Suddenly you’re not tall anymore, and it’s a bit disconcerting.

Some things in Spain are much cheaper (wine and beer, for sure), and some things are way more expensive (there’s a Dunkin Donuts nearby, and one glazed donut is about $1.50 US). I never know beforehand which things will be cheaper and which will be pricier. So I’m always surprised when I buy something.

Time for class, but perhaps I can add to this later.

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