College Girls Guide: Act Like a Local in Madrid

College Girls Guide: Acting Like a Local in Madrid

PINC students enjoying the Spanish lifestyle!

PINC students enjoying the Spanish lifestyle!

By Anjali Patel

Like with any other new place, there are certain cultural distinctions that you should be aware of before taking a city by storm. Here are 5 helpful hints in your effort to be mistaken as a true Madrileña.

1. Nothing Good Happens before 22:00

Spaniards function on an entirely different clock than you’re probably used to and I’m not talking about military time. Whether it’s class or a coffee date, punctuality isn’t really a thing. It is not unusual to eat lunch at 3 in the afternoon as everything is pushed back. Don’t even try having dinner before 10 o’clock; there isn’t an early bird special for arriving early. The club scene floods with locals around 2 am and people commit until the sun comes up. At least with this new clock you can grab some breakfast at a San Ginés or another 24-hour churro joint and ride the metro home when it opens at 6 am.

2. Besitos

In Madrid, PDA is a very apparent and accepted custom no matter where you are. Doesn’t matter if it is on the street, at El Prado Museum, or in the hallway to class, a little peck here or there is pretty standard. With that being said, upon meeting someone for the first time or seeing a friend, it is customary to give two kisses (one on each cheek) to the other individual Make sure you don’t actually put your lips on the other person’s cheek – no one likes a wet smooch. Put away the handshake, and break out the chapstick because puckering up is now your go-to.

3. Look Into My Eyes

For whatever reason, Spaniards love to stare at each other when they walk by. Unlike many other places, it should not be taken as an insult, but more as a sign of curiosity. Don’t be scared to stare back, especially if you’re trying to catch that cute guy’s attention in the bar. Eyes are the windows to the soul after all, and you definitely want to show off your beautiful soul (cue Jesse McCartney).

4. Your Only Tip should be Tipsy

Unlike in America, it is not usual to tip whether it’s in a restaurant, beauty salon, bar or taxi. At the bottom of most menus there should be a blurb that says “IVA incluÍdo” and your bill should reflect exactly the price seen on the menu, unless you choose special seating, like on a terrace. Don’t feel too bad about not tipping, as normally wages are higher to compensate; so order another glass of tinto verano and keep on keeping on.

5. Vale

If you come to Madrid not knowing a single ounce of Spanish, the word vale (pronounced val-eh) will soon be your go to phrase. Acting as a multitude of words – okay, yes, great, sounds good, alright, of course, got it – when in doubt on how to respond to that rapid fire question, vale is your best bet. Multiply it by three when said (note: the Spanish lisp does not make an appearance in this word) with the best Spanish accent you can muster and you will be considered a local in no time.

About the Author:

My name is Anjali Patel and I am a Junior at Boston College pursuing a degree in Economics and Finance with an International Studies Minor. I am currently studying at Universidad Pontificia Comillas in Madrid, Spain for the fall semester in an attempt to soak up as much Spanish possible. I am originally from Miami, Florida and love the sunshine, amazing meals and photography. After graduation, I hope to combine my analytic and creative passions, possibly in consulting.

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