The traditional Spanish in Spain is referred to as “Castellano”. However, there are other co-official languages spoken in Spain´s diverse regions that form an important part of Spanish cultural. Catalan, Euskera, and Gallego are a few examples. Catalan, is primarily spoken within the region of Catalonia. Euskera is the co-official language of the Basque Country in the north-eastern region of Spain. There have been a number of different hypotheses of about the origins of the language, but it still has no proven connection to any other language. Gallego is the co-official language of Galicia which is in the north-western region of Spain. It has been suggested that Gallego and Portuguese have similar roots. Spain is a very culturally proud nation and there is a very strong connection between language and cultural identity in all regions of Spain. Although these different languages are quite prominent within their respective regions, all Spaniards speak the national Castellano and foreign students using it will not have any problems with communication.
Spain offers a wide array of dishes each of which is influenced by the country’s numerous cultural influences: Roman, Christian, Jewish, and Moorish. There are numerous foods that can be found throughout the country including: tortilla española (potato omelette), paella (a rice dish), jamón serrano (a type of cured ham), various cheeses, chorizo and morcilla (sausages), churros, flan, and magdalenas (muffins). However, the country’s cuisine also varies by region and is indicative of the geography and culture of each. Click here to get a more in depth look of food in Madrid.
The concept of personal space is different in Spain. Hugs and two kisses are common, including when meeting people for the first time. When passing locals in the street or in the metro, don’t be surprised if eye contact is made but no smile or greeting is exchanged.
Normally, breakfast is light and consists of a cup of coffee with milk, hot chocolate, and a pastry or toast. Around mid-morning, Spaniards typically take a coffee break to sip on a freshly squeezed glass of orange juice or a cup of coffee. Lunch is the most important, and heaviest, meal of the day and is typically eaten between 2PM and 4PM. During the hours of 2PM-5PM many small businesses will close for workers to go home and eat lunch with their family, this break is known as siesta. Dinner is eaten between 9PM-11PM and is typically much lighter. Commuting between housing and school will be a part of your daily routine, so be prepared to walk everywhere or use public transportation!
Spaniards generally live in smaller apartments, or pisos, instead of houses as Americans do. These apartments are compact but comfortable. You may expect to find smaller appliances (washers, dishwashers and refrigerators) and smaller living accommodations, (closet space, beds, showers and tubs). Fans are widely used as central air is not as common in Spain. Clothes lines and drying racks are widely used in Spain, because dryers are less common.
Some ideas to immerse yourself in the Spanish culture include doing a language exchange (intercambio). Intercambio’s are a great way to practice Spanish with native speakers and to meet new people. This can be done one-on-one or at cafes throughout the city. Click here to find a resource list of where to find the best intercambios!
CISabroad Madrid Blog
Stay connected while you’re abroad and share your experience with your peers back home on the blog! Each summer and semester the CISabroad Madrid Blog features current CIS students as bloggers, photo bloggers, and video bloggers who document their time abroad to share with their friends, family, prospective students, advisers, and more.
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