As my friends and I have explored Pamplona, experienced our first week of classes and tried to do everyday life things (get a cell phone, order food at a restaurant, find books at a library, etc), we often find ourselves asking, “Esto es una cosa en España?” meaning, “Is this a thing?” Here are some of the things we have noticed that are prevalent (or not prevalent) in Pamplona.
Things that are “a thing”:
American music. It’s everywhere, in the stores, in the bars, in taxicabs. There is some Spanish language music, but Katy Perry, Rihanna, Queen and others are heard more often.
Perfumerias. Perfume stores are every where, and perfume commercials dominate day-time television advertising. It’s incredible the percent of commercials on tv that are for perfume.
Smoking. In between classes, before class, after class, etc, everyone huddles around the doors chatting and smoking. Maybe this is why the perfume industry is so large…everyone buys perfume to cover up the smoke smell.
Breaks during class. Classes are typically one hour and 45 minutes, but you get a 15 minute break in the middle to go smoke, get a coffee or just chat. For me, this is great, because it gives me a couple seconds to recap what was said in the previous section of class.
Coke with lemon. Coke is always served on ice (most other beverages aren’t) and with a lemon. The tangy, citrusy taste is quite good and adds a nice kick.
Pinchos. This is the term that people in the northern Spain refer to as tapas. They are available at every bar, restaurant, café, etc. They can be small bocadillos (sandwiches), pastries, salads, or tortillas (egg omelet with potato). You can eat several pinchos for a meal or share with friends as a snack.
Things that are not a thing:
Sorority girl poses. Hands on the hips, squatting. None of it. After about a week, I realized I look like a freak.
Vera Bradley/Sperry’s/other assorted popular college accessories. However, Ralph Lauren is popular, and I have seen one guy around campus who dresses like a total fraternity guy, rose-colored pants and all. How do you say frat star in Spanish?
24-hour anything. Super markets, pharmacies, etc. all close by 9 p.m. and might or might not be open during the afternoon. Banks are open only from 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. However, some clubs are open until 8 a.m. So there’s always something open, just maybe not the place you need to go to.
The Dewey Decimal System. I tried to find several books at the library the other day, an even though I had the number of the book, the shelves were so out of order it was impossible to find. (Granted, this could be a personal fail rather than the fault of the system, because I don’t think I have ever tried to check out a book at the Mizzou library).
Talking on your cell phone in public. People rarely are yapping away on their phones as they walk down the street or texting 24/7. Maybe they’re just better at hiding it. Or maybe they’re just not addicted to knowing everything RIGHT NOW.
Hair dryers. I really want to buy one. This is one American thing I am not willing to live without.