My First Few Weeks in Spain
I have visited my mother-in-law three times so far. As always, meeting the other side of the family has never been less than awkward. The reason being, I don’t speak either Spanish, Moroccan dialect or Berber language. My main interpreter is my husband. Help!!
If you’re wondering, I am married to a Moroccan Muslim man who is a permanent resident in Spain. My husband plans to apply for Spanish citizenship next year as he has lived in Madrid for 10 years as of 2013.
When asked if I want to change my citizenship?
No way Jose’! I love my Malaysian citizenship just fine. No changes please.
Hmm…that being said, am I proud of being a Malaysian? No comment.
My initial grudges
1 – Meal time
I am just a human..so I do complain from time to time. Hehhee..
As of 29th of October; it marks the 21st day of me living with my husband in Madrid now and for one thing, I still am not accustomed to the Spanish time.
Yikes.. 3 weeks have passed! Time sure flies.
Now the time is back to normal since 27th October. Previously, there was a 1 hour day-light saving.
Fajar or Subuh prayer starts roughly at 6.00am now and it is bright outside by 8.00am. We normally have our meal as followed:
- breakfast – between 10am to 11am
- lunch – between 3pm to 4pm
- teatime (merienda) – at 6pm
- dinner – from 9pm or 10pm
My Malaysian stomach? I am hungry all the time!!
In Malaysia, I am used to having breakfast at 7am, lunch at 12 noon or 1pm and dinner at 7pm.
Basically I have to eat twice the number of meals per day now in Spain ! T_T
Anyway, that is only one of my grudges.
2 – Public transportation system
Another thing is that I have been using public transportation with my husband to explore Madrid; mainly the Metro and Cercanias. They are pretty efficient and I really love Madrid public transportation system.
As I am used to the efficient public transportation in Seoul, I have this some sort of prejudgement (a good one) on Europe’s extensive public transportation system. I am looking forward to be awed!
Okay..so why is it that I am not??
First, the station’s exit door confused me.
Instead of using numbering system as the exit, Spanish uses the road or ‘calle’ names to mark the exit.
I get the point…but for me who is not local, it’s kinda complicated.
I don’t know Spanish and memorizing street’s name is pretttty hard dontcha think?
Please use number..pleaseeeeeeee…
Another thing is…when I take the Metro or Cercanias, at some stations I need to tap my transportation card or slot out my ticket but at some other stations, I don’t. It was super confusing!! Just tap it for God sake!!
This must be a shocker… to me at least. No restroom or toilet at most of the Metro or Cercanias Station. Until today…I will just hold it in until I’m home.
3 – Bread
My last grudge..I swear, this is the last one. Bread or ‘pan’.
When I am at our home (Madrid) , I eat rice everyday or rather I force my husband to have rice with me. Hahahha…But when I’m at my mother-in-law’s house, I have to eat bread. Yup…that hard barra pan.
There is not one day where I don’t see people walking with a paper bag of pan or bread around my neighborhood. For an Asian, being full is by eating rice. At least for me. Bread is just some snack or during
1 – Greeting
I love it when strangers greet each other. They seems to be very courteous.
Hola, ¿Qué tal? – Hello, how are you?
Hasta luego – See you later
Unlike in Malaysia where we hardly greet each other but…. it’s common to smile and be friendly to tourist.
If I smile to another unknown Malaysian in another country; the first idea is probably that I’m a lunatic or she must be sick?? But I guess Malaysian are changing for the better nowadays…so maybe we are not that bad, right?
2 – Buying groceries is cheaper than eating outside
Yup…sometimes my purchases surprised me! They are pretty much the same price as in Malaysia!! No joke, I swear.
A menu del dia in a restaurant, can be around 12 to 15 euros but I can wipe off the same menu at home for about 2 to 3 euros ‘sin’ (exclude) the liquor ^^.
3 – Fruits are super cheap!!
I mean compared to the fruit’s price in Korea. For this, I am greatly thankful as me and my husband love love love eating fruits so we can’t get by without at least a full plate or two in a day.
4 – Parks
Madrid has so many gorgeous parks. It’s different of course compared to South Korea but the park here carries its own attraction. I wish Malaysia can have big parks like Retiro Park.
5 – Olive
I love olive whether it’s in the fruit form, in the oil form or the olive skin of the Spanish..hehehe.
Some of my friends advise me to drink a spoon of olive oil a day but we use olive oil every time for cooking so I think that is plenty enough.
IMO, the olive oil pretty much change the taste of my cooking. Definitely. Say for example if I use palm oil instead of olive oil in making ‘sambal’, the taste definitely changed. It’s pretty hard to choose which one I prefer more.
I love love the olives pickle here. My sister brought home some of them when she studied in Jordan last 10 or 15 years and I fell in love with the pickled olive instantly!
6 – Me and myself..for being different from the rest.
The feeling of being different is not awkward here. Unlike in South Korea where the citizens stared at me for being different especially in my skin color and appearance, and I felt pretty annoyed. However here in Madrid; people are more exposed to that.
There are many races here; Moroccans, the Africans, the Latin Americans, the Chinese, the Romanians and etc.
But….I am being stared at mostly because I speak English!
People here feel kinda intimidated IMO when I speak to them in English. They somehow understood me but refused to speak to me in English.
My husband said speaking English is like fashion here in Madrid. The Spanish are now trying hard to master English and many public schools have started to have lessons in bilingual. That reminds me of South Korea!
English as a fashion statement?? No way!!