By: Lisa Stackhouse
Universidad de Cantabria in Santander, Spain
Major: Human Resource Management
“Ay Dios Mio!” The cab driver frustratingly grumbles to us as we come back from the ATM without euros in hand. At this moment, I know I am forever destined to have bad taboo with the world’s taxi services.
Ally and I were lucky enough to be on the same flight into Bilbao, Spain, which is a relatively small airport with no open currency exchange services after 5:00pm. Therefore, we hailed a cab but told the driver we only had American money and needed to be taken to an ATM. Turns out, the ATM near the hotel was out of service, and instead of taking us to another, he demanded we pay double the amount in American money for his troubles and our stupidity. Not a great first experience, but a lesson learned!
After that experience, all has been well, starting with a great night in Bilbao trying Spanish wine and watching entertainment on the street! The next morning was my arrival into the city of Santander and meeting my host family. Once again, a slight frustration when the cab driver suavely dropped my 4 friends off at their homes but took an extra 15 minutes circling the block because my door was hidden on the back side of the building. Safe to say, I’ve been here for a week and haven’t taken a taxi since. Europe, please get Uber!
My host family is fabulous, starting with my host mother, Rosario. A remarkable woman who spends her nights with friends and her weekends in her native village; tending to her enormous vegetable garden, chickens and cows. She has a daughter named Beatriz, better known as Bea, who is a 25 year old teacher enjoying her free summer at the beaches and bars. I was told they had a cat, but when I asked about the little “gatito” I got an emotional response that the cat had died just prior to my arrival. Awkward. In conclusion, my family is better than I could have expected and I have the perfect Spanish home near the university.
I could go on and on about all that I’ve experienced this first week but instead I’m going to tell you about a few Spanish words I’ve added to my vocabulary.
- Tapas. Aka, small little snacks that are provided when you purchase beer or wine at bars or restaurants. You see, the Spaniards don’t ignore the obvious reality that when humans drink alcohol, they get hungry.
- Siestas. A mid-day time to have lunch with your family/friends and take a small nap. All stores and businesses close during this time because they don’t believe in the American art of eating lunch behind a desk. It truly makes for an enjoyable lifestyle, and happy, rested workers.
- Discotecas. Dance clubs that do not open until 4am. This is not a typo, I repeat, 4am. The Spaniards love to drink, eat, and dance until the sun rises and have huge parties in the plazas before and during these hours of the night. When American bars are closing, Spaniards are just arriving!