The Difference in the details: Life in Spain versus life in America

In L.A. students rely on Uber instead of public transportation, something that would rarely happen in Madrid.

At USC and around L.A., students rely on Uber instead of public transportation, something that would rarely happen in Madrid.

As an exchange student coming from Europe, I expected my life to be quite different here in the United States. That is what I came for, to experience new things, to a great extent. However, I am discovering that there are some differences between my life here, and my life in Europe that I would have never anticipated. In this post, I will explain a few things that, some  insignificant, that make my life different than how it is in Spain.

If we want to be polite, greeting someone is the first thing to do. But how should I greet this cool friend I just met? There a few differences between how people greet each other in the U.S. compared to Spain. Here, I am afraid you can only shake his hand. If you are close friends, you may have some kind high-five or fist bump. If she is a girl, you can give her a little hug. But what about kisses? In Spain, men shake hands, but if you are meeting a woman, you will usually give her two kisses, one on each cheek. Honestly, I am not a very effusive person, but I think that giving a couple of kisses does not require much effort. Every time I see a boy and a girl meeting on campus, it looks like there is some affection repressed in that half hug. Come on, you are not meeting the First Lady.

Where do you want to go?
“Whatever, just ask for an Uber,” USC students say. Traveling long distances within the city is a Los Angeles-specific issue. In a huge, hectic city like Los Angeles it is shocking that there is no efficient public transportation system. A car will be your first choice for transportation most of the time. I miss walking around cities in Spain. We also take a car or public transportation sometimes, but you are still able to go from one place to another by simply wandering, even in big cities like Madrid. Nevertheless, it is still admirable how well Uber, Lyft and similar apps work. We have not even been able to make them legal in Spain.

The Rule of Apple
Seriously, is Apple giving out devices somewhere on campus? I still cannot believe how overwhelming their control of the market is, at least among young people in L.A. Having neither an iPhone nor Mac  I feel like a being from another planet rather than from another country. Do not panic, we also have Apple in Europe, but people use other brands as well. There is more technological diversity. Here it is just a wide ocean of iPhones, iPads and Macbooks. A few weeks ago one of my professors asked in class if there was anybody who did not own an Apple device. OK, I confess I did not dare to raise my hand. It was far too intimidating.

Free refills
This is truly one of the greatest inventions you have made. No joke, I love it. Fast food restaurants are starting to offer free refills in Spain, but it is not very widespread yet. I know it is not that big of a deal, but being able to stand up after finishing your food to get another drink gives a weird sense of satisfaction. As a business student, I should know that a refill is anything but free, however it lets you feel like you have the power. It also helps me to understand a little bit more about why people in the U.S. are drinking all day. Whether it contains coffee, tea or water, almost every student brings some type of reusable bottle around campus — and not any bottle — the more sophisticated, the better. I guess I will have to get rid of my simple plastic bottle soon.

Overall, it turns out that moving to the U.S. involved more adaptation than speaking another language. That means more chances for me to learn, so I am happy with that. However, I’m not saying I will buy an iPhone.