Before my move to Madrid, Spain there were a couple of things that I was always almost certain happened here. These were the images I had of Spain based on hearsay, television and novels. Boy was I in for a shock when I found out how untrue most of these stereotypes or should I say myths were. Below are a few of these myths I have put together.
1. Shorter working hours!:
When I think of Spaniards, I think of people that love to live life to the fullest. i.e work less and play hard. During my time in the office, I have been aware of individuals who come in at 8 or 9 am and stay late up to 9 pm sometimes. Some of my Business students have told me that Spain is actually one of the European countries with the longest working hours. I would say this was the biggest shock for me.
When I was in high school during my very first Spanish class, my teacher told us about her study abroad experience. She kept mentioning how everyone would have a hearty lunch and then take a nap from 2-5pm and then continue working for the day. This idea of a siesta was a new concept for me then and I thought it was pretty cool. 7 years later, now in Madrid I don’t know any Spaniard here that does this. Especially if they have a full time job. Whenever I mention siesta to them, they scoff like it was a fairy tale they wish they could experience.
3. Watch out, a bull!
Well this one was not really my idea of Spain. It was more of my parent’s. Every year in the U.S. they show on the news the running of the bulls and how many Americans are gored. My parents being very apprehensive, called me during my first week in Spain and this is exactly what they said “Be careful with the bulls on the street. Try and avoid their pathway”. I actually laughed out loud when they said this. After laughing for a good 10 minutes, I explained to them that it only happened in Pamplona, Spain on special occasions.
4. All Spaniards look like Antonio Banderas
There was just one look I thought when it came to Spanish men; Antonio Banderas *Spanish guitar strung*. I have come to learn that the Spanish come in a variety of looks. In the north of Spain, many possess western/ northern European features while in the south many are more tan, dark hair and so forth. In Madrid, the Spanish didn’t look too different from the people (Caucasian) back home in America.
5. Everyone is a football fanatic
The whole world knows how crazy the Spanish are when it comes to football (soccer). Two teams are well known worldwide: Real Madrid & Fc Barcelona. In my mind, every single Spanish ate, breathe, slept, or at least thought football. Right now, I have met so many Spaniards that couldn’t give a hoot about football.
6. The Spanish can’t get enough of Flamenco
The number one cultural symbol about Spain is Flamenco. I had to make it a duty to watch a flamenco show. Naturally when I came here, I couldn’t stop talking about how I looked forward to seeing one. I have come to realize that most Spanish don’t care for flamenco and it could even be a sensitive or awkward topic to discuss. It is mostly the tourists who are excited for Flamenco than the Spanish themselves.
7. Zara is cheap
Zara Zara Zara. For those shopaholics, you guys can’t get enough of Zara. In the U.S. shopping at Zara is seen as classy and chic. When I used to do my intercambio online with a Valencian, he told me how Zara is like the forever 21 of Spain and how cheap it was. I was excited to hear this because, it meant I could be able to buy a lot of clothes from there for a good amount.
Upon my arrival, I felt slapped on the face when I saw how expensive (for an English teacher) it was for me. Ain’t no body paying €50 for a blouse! In addition many fashionable Spaniards shopped there. I don’t think I can compare Zara to forever 21. #nowayjosé
8. All schools wear uniforms.
Lastly, I always had the idea that all schools in Europe wore uniforms private or public. This was not the case during my stay here.
Those were a few of my myths for Spain. Traveling has broadened my knowledge and has given me the ability to separate facts from opinions/myths.
What are a few myths you’ve had about Spain or another other country?