Barcelona: What I’ve learnt so far!

I’ve lived in Barcelona now for just over two months and, if I do say so myself, I’m beging to adapt to Spanish and Catalan daily life quite well. Of course, being here has done wonders for my language abilities… But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt so far, it’s that Spain and Catalunya are just plain simply weird. Things that are considered absolute basics back in Swansea are either non-existent here or simply backwards and I wanted to compile a list of these daily chuckles. So, here’s a list of some of the things I’ve learnt so far:

  1. Bikinis
    Bikini Potato
    But not that type…

    Here a Bikini referes to a simple toastie/toasted sandwich. In most cafés here you can normally find two types: A) Bikini Clàssic (filled with ham and cheese) or B) Bikini Mallorquí  (filled with Sobrasada – a type of Majorcan sausage) … Mmm Tasty!

  2. Milk

    Right… If the heretics just leaving cartons of milk lying around on the shelves and not in the supermarket fridges isn’t enough  to make your blood crawl, just know that normal fresh milk is rare. It’s more or less all long-life… And on top of that, even the fresh milk (of which there is normally only one brand available) tastes like toilet water. Please tell me I’m not the only one…

  3. “Pakis and Chinos”
    SUMA – My actual local

    In the UK the word “paki” is racist and “chino” is a type of trouser… But here the terms aren’t considered as derogatory – they simply refer to the local corner shops and more specifically the type of corner shop. “Pakis” are shops that sell food and are what we’re used to in the UK as a local ‘corner shop’. “Chinos” on the other hand sell EVERYTHING (apart from food). You want an iron? An emergency umbrella or pair of expensive beats headphones? They got you!

  4. Tamàquet amb tot Tomàquet

    Butter just isn’t a thing here. Instead they put tomàquet (tomato) in sandwiches or on bread. At first I was sceptical, but honestly… It’s the most delicious thing in the world and I might have to start eating it in the UK too.

  5. Classes at 08:30
    Need I say more?


  6. The university library

    You don’t appreciate what you’ve got until you don’t have it anymore… That’s exactly how I feel about the university library. At Swansea it’s open 24/7 every day of the blimmin’ year bar Christmas day, Boxing day and New Year’s day. The UPF on the other hand closes every day at 21:00 and only reopens at 08:00…

  7. Lack of social life

    What is a friend?
    Societies don’t exist… And students actually like learning so don’t talk in class either…

  8. McDonald’s serves beer

    Maybe I’m just blind, but I’m sure they don’t sell beer in the UK… Also, you can legit just buy a pot of 6 cherry tomatoes here too.

  9. The Catalan accent

    I feel like the Catalan accent might be Spain’s version of the UK’s Welsh. It’s just so obvious. Of course there are Catalans who have a much more neutral sounding accent, but most I’ve met seem to have a very specific way of speaking. And it’s very easy to differentiate the Catalan from other Spaniards. It’s those L’s and nasal noises…

  10. Strikes and protests

    Vaga General
    Since everyone here seems so engaged in politics, strikes and protests appear to happen more or less once every week. And depending on who is leading the strike or protest, it can often lead the city into deadlock. During a Vaga General – General Strike – the city metro system runs from 06:30 – 09:30 and that’s it! In other words, if you wanted to go to work, you can. But you ain’t going home!

  11. Recycling

    Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
    It’s just not compulsory here, and you won’t get fined if you don’t do it either… On a side note, there is also no such thing as door-step bin collection. If you want to get rid of your rubbish, you have to walk to the end of the road and put it in the communal bins.

  12. They have way to many saints
    Saint Stan
    There’s just too many!

    Every saint gets a bank holiday. EVERY SINGLE ONE… I swear, that since I’ve been here I’ve had at least two weeks worth of classes cancelled due to Saint this, Sant that, and way too many strikes. In fact, I’m writing this on 08/11/2017 which should have been a normal Wednesday, but instead it was a strike day!

  13. Average age to move out

    Statistically the average age to move out in Spain is a whopping 35 years old. Yes. You read that right… 35! No wonder my landlady’s mind is blown when she realises I’m 20 but already know how to boil an egg…

  14. When does this class finish?

    Swansea’s lecturers are actual normal human beings with a life outside of the classroom and so often finish a class a good 10-15 minutes early or simply when they’ve reached the last slide of the Powerpoint. Maybe it’s not the same all over Spain, but at the UPF, the teachers decide when they start and stop teaching. I shit you not, I’ve been sat in a German translation class for an extra 20 minutes after the lesson was supposed to have finished – and even after I said to the teacher I had another class to go to – she said, “Yeah this won’t take long.” On the flip side, on the first day of class, my History of Translation teacher literally said, “08:30 is too early start. Come at 09:00 instead.” Like… what’s the point in a timetable if they don’t follow it?

  15. So hippie
    This could literally be any street in Barcelona…

    Like… I don’t even really know what a hippie even is. But everyone I’ve expressed this observation to have all strongly agreed with me. And they even have their own word for it Perroflauta – literally: Dog Flute.

  16. Les Notícies de TV3
    This guy though…

    TV3 is basically Catalunya’s version of the BBC. It’s the TV channel that makes all the programmes in Catalan only and has it’s regular news broadcasts etc. It’s actually a very cool channel and the amount of vocab I’ve learnt is unreal. But why is it strange… Well that man there… I had to Google it, but his name is Toni Cruanyes he is the main news anchor EVERY SINGLE DAY. The Spanish version of the six O’clock news happens at nine here, and every night, good ol’ Toni is there to inform us about the day’s goings-ons.

  17. Respect the Siesta

    OK, this sign is probably a fake. But the reality is that the siesta does exist and definitely between the hours of 15:00 and 18:00 all of the shops close and the towns become eerily quiet. Want a bar of chocolate or emergency can of coke. Nah… You’ve got to wait until the shops open again. It’s not as bad in the centre of Barcelona as the shopping centres stay open. But where I live, I’m screwed if I haven’t planned my entire day around these hours. Furthermore, Sundays are basically an entire day of siesta, if not worse! Even the big shopping centres close!

  18. Blue eyes

    How I feel knowing I have blue eyes. Literally no one – except the German Erasmus students – has blue eyes and it makes me feel fabulous. I feel like a rare breed of God. And my ego gets extra inflated by the numerous complements I get from non-blue-eyed peoples.

  19. Milka
    It’s just wrong…

    You know that feeling when you just want a bar of chocolate. People tend to dream of Cadbury’s DairyMilk or big slab of Galaxy… Well… they don’t exist here. I’ve looked in the small corner shops, the big super markets and even the shops specifically aimed at tourists and I can’t find either brand anywhere. Instead Milka… Milka for days. And it’s rank. Of course I eat it anyway because to hell with giving up chocolate but honestly… Spain needs to up it’s confectionery game.

  20. 50€ notes

    too much
    If you go to a shop in the UK and give the cashier a 50 quid note, chances are, they’ll look at you with a mixture of surprise, suspicion and annoyance. Getting one of those damned notes from a cash machine is the stuff of nightmares and often results in thoughts such as, “Well what the hell am I going to do with this?” Well… Nope. Here it’s basically just another 5€ note. Cashiers don’t even blink when I try and pay for my 3.79€ sandwhich and coffee with 50€ note. They accept it and move on with their lives. This is because the 50€ isn’t the highest valued note. The highest note within the Euro is the 500€ – imagine getting one of them out of a cash machine…

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