During my first year at UC, I learned about cultural competency in my Montreal study abroad class from Associate Dean Marianne Lewis. It's a concept in which not only do we recognize differences but we learn to adapt. It's kind of like a "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" philosophy. That was easy to do when I was in Montreal for 5 days. That was easy when I was in Europe for 10 days last year. However, 2 weeks being in and I'm realizing how hard it is to adjust. I recognize and respect the cultural differences but it is hard to adjust to them and put them in your every day life as I will be doing for the next 14 weeks. I'm not used to taking the metro to school or waking up 2 hours before class so I can get ready and be at the metro station an hour before class. I am not used to eating dinner at 10 or 11 every single night. I am definitely not used to stores being closed at 2:00 in the afternoon because it's a city wide "break time." However I'm slowly starting to get used to it. I have to go to bed earlier. I have to snack throughout the day so I'm not starving at 7 or 8. I learn to go to the store between 12-2. There's all these little things that I have to adjust and integrate into my life and it's hard but I'm never one to back down from challenges. I accept them, I embrace them. That's why I'm looking forward to these next few weeks!
So one thing that I've noticed while I have been here is that the Spanish dress up their babies in the CUTEST clothes ever. These babies have on better clothes than I've seen on some adults in the US. The girls wear little fur coats and the boys wear cute little cardigans. They are so incredibly cute--it kills me every time I pass one. I snuck a picture of this baby that was sitting across from me in a cafe (not the best picture because I didn't want to get caught LOL) but she was SO adorable! She was wearing a fur coat and a little skirt with tights. I will definitely be dressing my baby up like this!
Every Friday, our study abroad program USAC takes us on cultural excursions and this Friday we got to go to a bullfighting ring in Bilbao. Spain is obviously notorious for events with bulls so it was interesting to find out that in a majority of Spain, bullfighting has actually been outlawed. However, in Bilbao that is NOT the case so it stands as one of the oldest and biggest bullfighting rings in the nation. We learned about the history of the stadium and then also walked through what a typical bullfight would look like. We learned what it takes to win in certain matches, who the judges are, how they rate the performance of the fighters, etc. The coolest part was definitely walking through the different bulls whose heads were on the wall or the one that was stuffed in the museum. These were the biggest and toughest bulls to bring down that they were actually saved so the public can see them. There's something eery about looking at stuffed bulls and when you think about it, it's a little inhumane that so many bulls have been and continue to be slaughtered every year in this sport. However, it is a HUGE part of the culture, especially in Bilbao. It was explained to us that it's a huge part of their history and every bullfight is a chance for the community to gather and cheer on their fellow comrades. That is something I understand. It's like the US getting together for the Superbowl or the Final Four to watch one of your culture's greatest sporting events. A part of me definitely feels sad for the little guys (HAHA they're actually huge) but I respect that they've kept it part of their culture for years. Don't know if I could stomach watching one in person but Olé Bilbao!