February 18, 2014, by Guest blog

Getting used to the Spanish rhythm of life

Extremadura was a region about which I knew very little. This was one of the main reasons I chose to come here. Being taught Spanish language and experiencing the country first-hand are obviously very different, but until arriving here I did not realise just how much.

Firstly, there is the rhythm of life, especially in Extremadura. I imagine that if I had been placed in Madrid there would be the same anxiety-ridden haste that I feel often in my English town. Here, however, there is a much slower pace, something to which I found very difficult to adjust. Be it the siesta period, or people ambling in the street as if they have no commitments, I have noticed a stark difference to the constant time-checking and rush of back home. Maybe this is just me!

Having now gotten accustomed to this new style of life I am learning to relax more and I thankfully feel much more at ease when out and about, and especially when caught in a queue (I did not imagine queues to be slower than in England, but was proved wrong).

As regards to the ‘siesta’, I still have trouble with this concept! In principle, it seems a great idea, and I’m sure in the summer it will be welcomed openhandedly. At the moment, however, I struggle to relax into a siesta in the middle of the day. For me, two to five is the time I am most active, refreshed and productive. Imagine my dismay, then, when I found all establishments closed between these hours: prime-time for running errands. Nevertheless, this is something I have taken in my stride.

Now, concerning Extremadura as a place, it is beautiful and full of wonderful landscapes. During my time here I have travelled as much as possible and so the endless journeys provide for amazing scrolling mountains, rivers and forests. I have yet to visit some of the main sites, but so far I am in awe. There is a certain quaintness about cities such as Cáceres which is charming, and in this particular city I was fortunate enough to attend both the Blues and Medieval Festivals.

As previously mentioned, I had very few expectations as regards to what Spain would actually be like. Nonetheless, I can compare my experiences here to those back home and at University. One thing that really struck me was the lack of fire alarms in all the flats I looked at. This seems like a minute detail, but having been indoctrinated with fire safety from an early age, this shocked me somewhat! Another aspect of my flat which is of some concern is the fact that it seems to have been built with a complete disregard for the fact that winter does actually occur. I imagine I will love the airiness, lack of insulation and freezing floor tiles in the summer, but these don’t seem to be too practical for the winter weather! I guess, for now, the ‘brasero’ will suffice (another charming individual quirk).

Overall, I am greatly enjoying my time here in Extremadura and am sure I will continue to do so over the next few months. Learning more about these cultural differences has been fascinating, and I hope to continue immersing myself as much as possible into the local culture.

Posted in Cultural challenges