Siesta and Closing Times
Naptime generally sounds like a fun idea, right? In the US, we would relish the idea of having a couple hours mid-day to have time to ourselves and relax. In reality, it's not so special. If I need something mid afternoon, it is probably not open. In our 24 hours a day world, this just does not cut it. To further add to the distress, just about everywhere that is not a bar, restaurant, or nightclub is closed before 10PM. Feeling the munchies and want to make a WaWa run at 1AM? Sorry, they're closed. I guess the Spanish like their time to not do much, which leads me to my next issue...
Everything Happens Slowly
The TV at my apartment stopped working in early January. The owner immediately told us he would get us a new one, since it was broken. It took over a month to get here, constantly going through delays and being told that it would be there int he next day or two. We hate waiting for anything at home, but here it's typical. They say that countries like the US work to live, whereas in Roman influenced countries like Spain, they live to work. That point gets driven home when you are trying to get a waiter's attention and he ignores you like you don't matter whatsoever.
6 Hour Time Difference Means Late Sporting Events
Sure, soccer is on at pretty regular times (9 or 10PM starts, typically) but that just means that in the US I could watch it at 3! A 7PM 76ers game, for those like myself who actually care to watch, does not begin until 1AM. Not to mention, finding access for the game isn't exactly easy. The Superbowl started at 12:30AM, and didn't end till after 4AM. Occasionally, Sunday games will start at 1 and I can watch them, but if there is any reason why American sports are just not that big in Europe, this is probably one of them. This is the biggest reason why I could never live in Europe. Nothing starts too late over here. A 10:30 PM start for a basketball game on the West Coast is only a half hour later than a start of an FC Barcelona game here.
The Lack of Sports Variety
No Sportscenter is killing me. At home, you can watch highlights all day on Sportscenter, and it'll show all four of our major sports. Here, you're lucky to find anything besides soccer coverage. Sure, the basketball team is pretty good and the average person might be able to recognize Ricky Rubio, but each team plays only 1-2 times per week like football. At home, I can watch a different basketball game, pro or college, every night of the week. I'm not sure what they do in the summer when soccer is on off-season, I guess they just vacation at the beach all day.
The Eating Times
In Spain, the typical eating times are 2PM for lunch, and 9 or 10PM for dinner. Lunch is an event over here, and typically people can spend from 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours just hanging out and eating. Dinner is probably less important than lunch, but having dinner only a couple hours before sleeping just feels really strange. A lot of the time, I end up having just one meal in a day or one quick meal at one point and a bigger meal later on. I know it's the culture to eat at those times and all, but years of dinner being the main meal have conditioned me to be hungry later in the day!
Lack of Variety in Fast Foods
When we think of 'fast foods' we typically just think of McDonalds and how gross it is. But we don't really consider just how many options we typically have in any given day. Here, there is Subway (gross), Burger King, McDonalds, kebaps, Starbucks, and a couple other chains (which really are not especially inexpensive). All of the US chains cost the same in Euros as they do in Dollars (so they have a 1 euro menu), which means that a 6.65 meal costs over 8 bucks. As if I'd buy that. Here, it's not typical to walk into a store, order a sandwich, and leave. If you have a craving for just about at anything at home, you can get it at a moment's notice. The ridiculous variety in our food selection is something we take completely for granted, especially in terms of fast food choices.
Barcelona is considered the 'Pickpocket Capital of the World'. Not exactly an endearing nickname. Here, you have to watch your pockets at all times. Really, you don't have to worry about being mugged (and anyways, most Spaniards aren't especially big or scary looking), but you do have to worry about having your stuff stolen. They will use any trick to get your money, from bumping into you on the metro in order to grab whatever you have from your pocket or bag, or using a distraction game on the big tourist street, Las Ramblas. In just a couple of months, I have heard multiple horror stories ranging from people leaving their bag unattended for a minute, to people just trying to reach into your bag to steal something. With the language barrier, it is really difficult to tell who on the Metro is a genuine person and who might try to steal your stuff. It is best to always be cognizant that someone might try to rob you, but it kinda sucks to have to constantly worry about that.
Throw your clothes in the washing machine. When they get done, just transfer them over to the dryer. Not here. Most washing machines are relatively small, and take fairly long. If you put the settings too hot, they can easily damage your clothes. However, the worst part of the lack of a dryer. This means you have to hang-dry everything. Not only do they dry sort of stiff and uncomfortable (especially my socks), but they also take a long time to dry. Again, in a world where we want everything instantly, waiting a day for clothes to dry can feel like an eternity at times.
Are all of these things tolerable? Absolutely. However, at these times I wish I could get what I want!