I've been stateside for almost a month now, yet my reverse culture shock has yet to subside. While living in Spain has helped me to realize the many things that I love about America, it has also opened my eyes to what we can improve back home. As much as I love the USA, there are several things that Spain simply does better. (And of course, visa versa.) Spending the summer back home has shed light on what I truly appreciate about the Spanish culture, and what our country can learn from them. In my opinion, here's how the United States should copy Spain:
Selling Affordable Wine
I die a little inside every time I have to pay $12 for a glass of wine at home. Now it's my own fault that
I'm a wine snob I have good taste in wine, but come on. Twelve dollars?! That's insanity when I think about how I can get a great glass of wine in Madrid for 3€. I'm sorry, but America can only call itself "the greatest nation on earth" when they learn how to sell high quality wine for unbelievably low prices.
You win, Spanish wine.
Implementing Efficient Public Transportation Systems
I have an irrational fear of driving, which is not conducive to the need to drive everywhere in America. (Or at least in the greater Seattle area.) I'm also terrified of parking, and have been known to be "that girl" who bribes her friends to park her car for her. Which is perfectly acceptable, UNTIL YOUR CAR GETS TOWED (which happened yesterday. Face palm.)
Getting around Madrid is a lot less stressful thanks to its well-connected, easy-to-use public transportation system. I can take the metro, bus or train just about anywhere I want to, when I want to, all for a shockingly decent price. While there are a handful cities in the USA that are doing this right, America as a whole could benefit greatly from copying the European models of public transportation. There'd be less pollution, less drunk driving, less traffic, more money in my bank account from not having my car towed... the list goes on.
Using Olive Oil Instead of Butter
It's healthier and it makes your food taste better. End of story.
Okay, not totally healthy, but you can bet these bad boys were fried in olive oil!
Taking More Naps
According to the National Sleep Foundation, short naps are found to improve mood, alertness and performance. A recent NASA study found that a 40 minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness by 100% in drowsy military pilots and astronauts. Moral of the story: we should all be taking siestas.
When I first moved to Spain as a study abroad student, I truly resented the fact that many stores shut down for several hours during siesta time. I found it so inconvenient that I couldn't run my errands in the middle of the day. Now that I'm teaching English in Spain and dealing with hyperactive children every day, I could not be more grateful for siestas. Bring on the naps.
Quiet streets signal siesta time.
Enjoying Life by Embracing Community
Spaniards work to live, not live to work. They're not becoming workaholics or multi-tasking themselves to death. Instead, they're focusing on enjoying life. The people of Spain take joy in life's simple pleasures: savoring a caña in the sunshine with friends, engaging in long conversations after meals, dancing with their friends until dawn, and making their family their number one priority. Spaniards are by far the most social creatures I've encountered, which unsurprisingly makes them the most fun.
Unlike the United States, they're not driven by competition, capitalism or materialism. They're not obsessed with buying big houses, fancy cars or the newest Apple products. Rather, they spend their time interacting with their community - which at the end of the day is much more fulfilling.
Of course Spain isn't perfect either, and they could stand to learn a lot from America as well. But that's another rant for another time.
What would you add to this list?
Have you ever lived abroad? What could your home country learn from your host country?