By Dinah E., Auxiliar de Conversación in Madrid 2019/20.
My batch in college was the last batch to study Spanish. When I reached Spain, I marveled at how many words we have in common. Not by chance, Spain had a great influence on our culture for 333 years. That made it easier for me to speak and understand a little bit of a few simple conversations in Spanish. Now that I am in Spain, there are nine more reasons why I love this country. Yes, you heard it correctly. Nine, because language is one of the reasons. Find out why.
1. Spanish language
I have a basic knowledge of Spanish. But I must admit that, when you hear them speak the language, my knowledge is not enough. Spaniards talk fast! Most of the time, I am left speechless on how to respond to their questions. Or I find myself grappling for the right words to say. I have to look at their mouth, focus on how they enunciate the words and get the gist of the topic.
Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to sit down and learn the language little by little. This was the beginning of my appreciation of the passion behind the language. Each Spanish word seemed to hold a special meaning when spoken. I can’t exactly place my finger on it but that’s how I feel about it.
2. Warmth and friendliness
In my country, we don’t usually greet people we don’t know on the streets. Here in Spain, I find some people greeting me with “¡Hola!” as though we’ve known each other for a long time. It was a bit awkward at first because I wasn’t used to it. But as a matter of fact, I liked it. It made me feel less of a stranger and more welcomed.
I remember an incident a few weeks ago when I was in a grocery store. A Spaniard waved at me and asked me “¿Qué tal?”. I wasn’t sure if I’ve met him personally. But as he lifted his mask, I recognized him as the person supervising the lawn maintenance from where I lived. These greetings bring positivity into our lives.
3. Transportation system
I live in a suburban area which is almost an hour away from the center of Madrid. Back home, I was unsure of how I was going to travel to and from school or to and from Madrid. But my uncertainty was replaced with amazement as I learned how the transportation system works here.
It wasn’t that easy during the first month. I went through a lot of funny experiences, such as going in and out of the metro. I was on the wrong line and almost getting on the wrong bus because I was at a different bus stop. In the long run, I realized that the system was very simple to use. You can get to your destination anytime you want to, without having to worry about anything. The system is designed to provide convenience and comfort to the people.
4. Parks and sceneries
Aside from walking down the streets and looking into the shops of Spain, a good option that would take your mind off things after a hectic day at work is to visit the parks. There are so many parks here and I haven’t visited all of them yet. People frequent the place usually at weekends. You will see kids running around, riding a bicycle, playing football with their dad. You’ll see parents with babies in their strollers, and older kids tagging along. You’ll see people walking their dogs. And you’ll see people simply admiring the sceneries and taking pictures, like me!
Coming from a tropical country where humidity is almost always at its peak, I would say that the climate here suits me to a tee. I have adjusted to the three seasons quite well. But still, I have to experience the intense heat of summer. They are saying that it reaches 40 degrees. I’m fine with that because it’s the same back home during the summertime. Also, I noticed that I’ve got lesser headaches here. It must be due to the cold weather that suppresses the headaches from going into full blast.
6. Spanish cuisine
The first experience I had with their cuisine was at my assigned school. My eyes feasted on the tray that was rolled into the teacher’s staff room. I learned that it was Cocido madrileño or Madrid stew, a traditional click-based stew that is usually cooked in winter, although some restaurants served it all year round. It was such a delight to see and it tasted so good, too! An equally popular dish in Spain that has its roots in Valencia is the internationally known paella. It’s a dish that you would find hard to resist.
7. Cheap groceries
This was one of my worries before I traveled to Spain. But when I started buying my stuff, I realized that I had nothing to worry about. I’ve only spent less than 100 euros a month on the groceries that I buy regularly, which also includes veggies and fruits. The good thing about this is I was able to save a lot of money and use it on something else.
8. Long holidays
Spain is a predominantly Catholic country, so expect a lot of religious holidays. It’s something that everyone looks forward to. Their Holy Week is not a mere 2-day holiday for the schools, but rather, a 2-week holiday. They also have long weekends in some months.
9. Relaxing siestas
Spain is celebrated for its 2-hour siestas. Shops and offices take a 2-hour break before they resume their work. I was an innocent victim of this! I went to a shop to print out an activity that I prepared for school. But was surprised to see it closed. Then, I realized that it was siesta time!
Spain is one of the safest countries in the world. I’ve been here for nine months now and I haven’t heard of a crime that made me feel as though my life is in danger. Of course, there are still the common crimes that you should be aware of but not as great as the other countries.
These are the 10 reasons why I love Spain. Which one appeals to you most? I guess it might be Spanish excellent cuisine, or maybe the affable and cheerful Spaniards. Or why don’t you take a step forward and experience it by yourself?