I have been living in Vigo, Spain for three weeks now. After the initial cultural shock that I had for the first few hours of my first day here, I am slowly getting us how things work around here; just in time for me to move again. Well..it happens. The first two weeks went very quickly, partly because my friend Maria was still here, and most of the times I was just following her without noticing anything around me. It is not that I didn’t want to notice anything, or I didn’t want to take my time to absorb everything that this little port town has to offer, I just never had the time walking with Maria on the streets. If anyone who reads this, knows my dear Estonian friend, they would understand that when it comes to walking, Maria has 2 speeds: very, very fast and extremely fast; so fast that in the last few days of her being here, I simply refused to keep up with her. I was walking behind her, and in her own words…’we looked like a broken family’. But nonetheless, she was very understanding when I kept asking her the same stupid questions about streets and how to get home. Then, my whole family came to visit, so again, no time for myself or to get used to my new environment, apart from, we were eating out every night so I was clearly exercising my Spanish.
However, this last week I have been by myself, and I am slowly starting to get used to Spain. I am starting to like the very hot sunny days, the little cafes and restaurants, the markets, the atmosphere. I have been working with 6 years old kids, absolutely lovely kids, and thanks to them my broken Spanish is getting better. Although the look on their faces when I speak half in Spanish with a bad accent and then half in English with my English accent, is absolutely priceless, nonetheless they get what I mean, eventually.
There are a few things that have amused me a lot since I got here, and I started interacting with locals, or people who have been here longer than me. Also, there are a few things that I learned from the Spanish, and a few things that Spanish people should learn from the other countries equally. Do not take this list as offensive, it is my personal take on it, and I think it is quite amusing.
1. All you need is enough money to go out drinking, you will automatically have food for free, and good food as well. We all need to love Spanish restaurants because of their free tapas, with any sort of drink you order.
2. Fresh fruit, fresh veggies, fresh fish. Enough said.
3. Siesta time. If at the beginning it is rather hard to adapt that half way through the day everything around you closes, soon you start enjoying that nice afternoon nap, which allows you to party more in the evening.
4. Crema Orujo. Which is by far my favourite alcoholic drink in the world right now, and if you ever come to Galicia, do not dare leaving without trying it.
5. If you are like me, or my dad, and you like to have cold drinks and also would like to be able to buy them in any shop, do not come to this part of Spain. Good luck finding a supermarket who serves cold beer or water, there’s none. Who on Earth likes to drink their beer at room temperature when there’s 30 degrees Celsius, goes beyond my understanding.
6. Spanish parents (please do not get offended, that is not my intention here), take it down a notch. Your kid will be fine if he is 5 years old and has a scratch or if he is playing in a closed park, in a summer camp without close supervision. It is not the end of the world. Your kids cry way too much, and they are way too overprotected…life is not getting any easier, but I am not a parent, so maybe I should not give any advice.
7. However, one more thing on the advice list, from a non-parent. Stop feeding your kids so much sugar. You have amazing food, amazing fresh season fruits. Having sugary cereals or biscuits for breakfast and then, having the same for a snack, or worse, such as cookies or muffins it is not the way forward. If you give a 6 years old child money to buy his own meal, you know what they are going to buy? 5 euros worth of chewing gum. Yes, you read that right. He is supposed to eat healthier than that, but then again, that is my personal opinion and I am sorry if I offended anyone. Also, it needs to be mentioned that this does not happen in every household in Spain, I am just giving a few examples which shocked me as an outsider.
8. Dear Spanish people, I know it is hot most of the year, but a kettle is a brilliant invention.
9. Also, I kindly suggest to stop starring so much at other people walking down the street.
All in all, my experience here has been amazing. I have two weeks left, and I am sure that by the end of it, I will ever so slightly miss Galicia…and I will clearly miss Crema Orujo.