While traveling abroad I experienced a lot of culture shock. I spent two weeks in Spain, specifically Madrid and Barcelona. Seeing the different culture was not only eye opening but sometimes confusing or frustrating. For example, Spaniards are extremely touchy and are not afraid of being  close to other people or in “their bubble”. I personally do not like being in spaces touching other people especially strangers. Unfortunately there were times I was being shoved or squished. There were also times I was being cut off or reached over. But although I did not like this, it is part of their culture, they are used to the close quarters and pushing to get where they need to go and do what they need to do or get what they want. There is also just general differences like when stores and restaurants open. It was interesting to see that stores and restaurants didn’t start opening till around 11 then would close between 5-7ish and reopen to eat dinner at 10. Those are just rough time estimates but that was something everyone on the trip had to adjust to and sometimes it could be frustrating because our scheduled visits or plans did not always match up with Spains time schedule when it came to stuff being open.

Then there is the obvious problem being the language barrier. It was extremely hard at times to understand people or get to places or order certain things. I personally did not take any Spanish classes or know any Spanish so I found it very difficult to get around and order stuff. Specially in Madrid. Barcelona was much more touristy and they would often offer English food menus or have people that could speak English which helped at lot. You could look at the language barrier being extremely cool to experience or extremely difficult. A lot of my classmates loved having the language barrier because some could speak some phrases in Spanish or they just enjoyed learning more Spanish for me I could not speak or understand anything so I found myself confused pretty often. Another culture shock would of course be the food and beverages. Not only were there times we did not know what we were ordering to eat but there were many different and new foods to try at every corner. It was also very shocking to see how often the Spaniards drank alcoholic beverages. At every single place imaginable beer and wine were always available and most often cheaper than water. Walking the streets morning, afternoon, or night people were on the patios of restaurants drinking. Many of our group meals included wine or beer but we had to ask separately for water. Water was very difficult to get ahold of, it was not available like it is in the US. To be able to drink water we would often have to go to supermarkets and get huge bottles to keep with us. Many of us were dehydrated and frustrated at the lack of water and the fact that we had to pay for it constantly and it often would be very expensive during group dinners because everyone wanted water and would just be chugging as much as possible.

Within that category the other culture shock was how the Spaniards are with air conditioning. Many many times were rooms or restaurants or museums miserably hot. Being dehydrated with no water available in the heat was very hard for some of us. A few of us even got sick during a company visit because it was so hot in the building but that being said it was just their culture and what they were used to. As the group of us Alabama students were miserable sweating, needing water, and ac. The Spaniards that worked at the company were in sweats and vests and blazers and jackets perfectly fine. I would say that was for sure a big culture shock in my opinion because I was unfortunately one of the ones that got sick during a company meeting due to being overheated and having little water in my system.

But overall this blog post is to prepare you not scare you! I would study abroad over and over again but next time be more prepared for the things I might encounter or do more research to find out what places have certain cultures and how to prepare for them. I believe going through this experience and seeing the different culture not only helped me grow as a person but also opened my eyes to how different countries do things compared to the US and learning if I like the differences or not. Everyone is different and you will either love it or hate it or both but overall you will learn from it and gain a lot of knowledge.