After living in Spain for a month one starts to learn certain things about the culture that are different from American culture. While I am not an expert on the Spanish or Asturian culture, here are a few things I have learned about the both cultures:
1. Ham is a key ingredient
As soon as you step into a restaurant in Spain you will learn that Spaniards love ham. It was shocking yet amusing to see the multiple ways ham can be incorporated into a meal. When our group was in Madrid, we saw restaurants such as “Museo del Jamon” (the ham museum) where all that was sold were ham sandwiches. Unlike America, ham is cooked into almost every meal such as egg and potato omelettes, pizza, or served as a burger.
2. Drinking sidra is a pastime
As I previously mentioned, sidra is an Asturian hard cider that is made out of fermented apples. Asturias is very famous for sidra and the citizens of Oviedo can be seen drinking it at all times. The city has its own sidra street called Gascona where many sidrerias, or restaurants where sidra is served, can be found lined up throughout the street. Though the drink is served in a fancy way, drinking it is nothing out of the ordinary and is part of every-day life.
3. The climb to Naranco
Every citizen of Asturias has done it at least once, and many do it multiple times. Climbing Mount Naranco all the way to the top is a must do if you are from here. At the top, a giant statue of Christ as well as a clear view of Oviedo. The statue resembles the statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro, but of course this one is a lot smaller. The hike from the bottom to the top is about 3.5 miles and is very steep, but once you make it to the top you can enjoy the beautiful views of Asturias. On a clear day you can even see the ocean which is about 15 miles away.
4. Hospitality and assertiveness
Something that I love about this culture is that people are very hospitable. For example, whenever I had to ask someone on the street for directions, they were more than willing to go out of their way to take me to my destination even if it was completely opposite from where they were going. Hospitality also applies to language. Whenever I made a mistake when speaking, the people were more than willing to help me out and teach me how to say something correctly. At the same time, people are assertive and to the point, there is no beating around the bush. This can be taken as rudeness as first but that is never the intention. It takes a few interactions to learn that being assertive is part of the culture and that people really do want to help you out.
There is so much more to Spain than the four points I have made but just like any other culture, not everything can be explained through writing. The best way to learn is by immersing yourself into the culture, and it is also the best way to create amazing memories that will last a last time. Until next time Spain.