Wednesday, September 17, 2003

new roommate and social differences

Hello there!
Hope you´ve had a delightful week -- I sure have! Friday night we went out dancing, Saturday we had a trip to Segovia, and when I returned around 6pm, a girl from Boston University had moved into the spare bedroom! I was a little distressed about this because I had requested to live alone and had enjoyed it for nearly 2 weeks. However, she seems nice enough, and we have done a pretty good job of speaking Spanish when we talk. She attends a different university here, so the only time we see each other is when we´re at home or if we choose to hang out together, which makes for a nice change of pace.
Sunday, some Furman kids & I went to El Rastro, which is like a HUGE flea market where they sell everything from socks to thongs, from black market CDs to handmade purses. So many people though, it´s amazing! After returning home for lunch with Eleanor, I went to church. It´s the church that my madrileña summer pen-pal, Miriam, attends. It´s an hour away by Metro and rather small, but it was awesome to worship the Lord with other believers for the first time in 3 weeks. 2 other FU gals came with me,and we went to dinner afterwards with some people from the church.
Now, if I have permission to interrupt this regularly scheduled program for a bit, I need to address a question that many have asked: How is life here different from life in the States? In some ways it´s not... people work, go to school, eat 3 meals a day, etc. But if you dig a little deeper, there are definitely differences. I´ll try to highlight the ones I´ve noticed so far.
Transportation: many people have cars, but there is also a huge underground metro system and a bus system that are full of people from all walks of life
Food/meals: lots of olive oil, and bread with every meal. breakfast tends to be very small (i usually get a few pieces of toast, hot chocolate, and either juice or a piece of fruit, but some of my friends tell me this is a lot!). lunch is the biggest meal of the day and is usually eaten between 2-4. dinner is a little smaller than lunch, and isn't eaten until at least 9 pm, and often as late as 11 or 11:30.
Daily Schedule: much like in the States, work starts between 7-10am, depending on what it is. most everybody returns home for the "siesta" from about 2-5 and all the little shops close during this time and then reopen from about 5-8. the city never sleeps; there is as much traffic at 2:30am as at noon. which reminds me of an interesting tidbit -- because of their schedule, they call noon 12am, and midnight 12pm... in the States, we do it the other way!
Clothes: i was told before coming that it's a more formal city. true, but also false. true in that very few people wear sweatpants to class or the grocery store, or holey jeans & t-shirts. false in that not as many men, and especially not as many women, wear suits like we would consider normal. And women wear shirts to work that we would consider more in style for the hip teenager than the working woman. Women's shoes almost always have pointy toes!
Social: people are a lot more affectionate in public, but a lot less friendly with strangers. people's homes (aka apartments) are smaller and very private, and generally only family or VERY close friends are invited in. as a result, there are open-air bars on every streetcorner where you can sit and have a drink and "tapas" (like snacks or appetizers), and the waiters never pressure you to leave like they do in the States, because essentially, by paying for food and drink, you are paying for table time to socialize.
This is all I can think of right now. As I notice other things, I'll mention them. If you have a question you'd like for me to answer, shoot me an e-mail and I'll do my best to either respond or incorporate the answer in an upcoming journal entry. Also, realize that these are just my observations -- be careful not to stereotype!
As I wrap up, please pray that the Love of Christ would shine through me to everyone I'm around, but especially those I live with -- Conchita & Eleanor. Take care, wish my dear friend Joy a happy bday this Saturday if you know her, and I look forward to hearing from you. Oh yeah, more pics are up!
Soli Deo Gloria...

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