Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Interview with Chad: An American's first impressions of Spain

[It's now been two weeks since Chad's last day in Madrid, and four weeks since his arrival to Spain.  At the end of his trip, I asked Chad some questions about his first impressions of Spain.  After living here for nearly two years total, I've become very accustomed to everyday life and have forgotten some of the little details that once struck me as different.  In this interview Chad offers a fresh perspective (which reminded me of my first weeks in Madrid back in 2009).]

Rebe: What did you expect before you came to Spain?  Chad:  I really wasn't sure what to expect because I had never gone on a trip where I didn't stay at a hotel/resort or have a tour guide.  I guess if I have to come up with something it would be that I thought more people would know how to speak English. That was pretty surprising. 

Yeah, there have actually been a couple of studies/news articles in the past few years saying that Spain has the lowest level of English in Europe, so they know it.  What was the best food you ate during your stay? This is tough, there was a lot of good food. I really like the chicken from the Chinese restaurant but that is kind of cheating since it's Chinese.  I liked the meal Rebe and I made at the hostel with chicken, pasta, tomatoes, olive oil, and spices.  I think my favorite would have to be either the gazpacho or the paella.

Mmm, paella's pretty delicious.  And what was your least favorite Spanish food? Least favorite is easy: tortilla stuffed with tuna. 

What?!  Tortilla española is wonderful!   (And just for the record, we never had - nor have I seen - "tortilla stuffed with tuna". Chad just doesn't like eggs or tuna,  so that would be his worst combo.)  Alright, next question: what was your favorite drink?  For favorite drink, I enjoyed the night we drank red wine but I think, even though it just tasted like water, being from Wisconsin, I have to go with the Mahou beer.

Interesting choice; there's nothing special about the taste of Mahou beer.  Too bad you didn't come a week earlier, you could have gone to the Madrid beer festival with me.  Oh well.  Moving away from food/drink, what was your favorite site in Madrid?   My favorite site in Madrid would probably be the Real Madrid stadium or the Palace/Cathedral area.

Well then I'm glad you took that tour of the stadium on one of your "solo adventure" days.  I went to a Real Madrid game when I was a student here, but I never even knew the stadium gave tours.  Now looking at the whole two weeks, not just your time in Madrid, what was your favorite thing that we did? The whole trip was amazing but I like the beach so the weekend in Alicante was my favorite.  Staying at the hostel was a new experience and relaxing in the sun was a nice break.

Yeah, it was a "nice break" from your vacation... haha.  No, but I enjoyed the beach too.  I especially liked climbing up and down that mountain on Sunday, despite the heat and not knowing how to reach the castle.  Ok, what surprised you the most about Spain or Madrid? Like I mentioned earlier, the biggest surprise was how few people knew English.

Good thing you got to practice Spanish with my roommates!  What was your favorite or most-heard Spanish phrase/word?  Bien!  I could answer any question your roommates asked me with that one word.

Yup, that's a good word to know.   Other than the language now, what differences between the United States and Spain stuck out to you the most? How many people smoked cigarettes, no screens in windows, though I think that is fairly common outside of the US, washing machines in the kitchen and how little grass there is in Spain (and the grass that was there you weren't allowed to walk on).

Yeah I miss ample grass and being able to walk through it barefoot in the summer.  Would you recommend that others travel to Spain?  I definitely would recommend for people to visit Spain, though I think to get the most out of the trip it's best to have someone that knows something about Spain and can speak some Spanish. Having you there made life a lot easier because you knew about the different places to do day trips and how to get there.

Oh the benefits of having friends that live abroad and speak the local language!  How easy was it to get around not speaking Spanish (for example on your "solo adventures" some of the mornings while I was working)?  The metro was very easy to use as long as you could find your destination on the map. But like I mentioned above, it wouldn't be as easy to do the day trips without speaking some Spanish and having some kind of idea which bus terminal to go to for each city.

[Well there you have it folks.  Is there anything else you'd like to ask Chad?]

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