Two different countries collide: United States vs. Spain

¡Hola a tod@s!

¿Que tal?

This post is a little bit different than my normal post. In this post I intend to explain the cultural difference between the United States and Spain. I hope you find the post interesting and informative.

The views expressed in this post are my own and may not accurately represent all situations in Spain. 

  1. Handicap Accessibility
    This topic is interesting and important to me because I live with mild cerebral palsy that affects my mobility.  A great amount of the population in Bilbao and the Basque Country are aging and are confined to wheelchairs or use other mobility aids like canes. The ramps are very steep on stairs and there are more stairs than sidewalk ramps. The sidewalk ramps tend to be of normal grade, similar to the United States, however, the ramps on stairs are extremely steep.
Handicap Ramp
Handicap Ramp

This poses a challenge for those in wheelchairs because many people are in self-propelled wheelchairs (without motors). The grade of the ramps can cause damage to the chair or injury to the operators hands.

2. DAB (Dance Move)

The DAB is a dance move in which the dancer simultaneously drops the head while raising an arm and the elbow in a gesture that has been noted to resemble sneezing.

This is a hand gesture used by students in university

The gesture in called PAR in Spain. The name has no resemblance to the gesture and the word literally means nothing in the Castilian language.

3. Television Commercials (Anuncious)

In the United States for every half hour of programming there are usually two breaks of commercials ranging about five minutes each. Therefore for every hour of programming the number of commercial breaks doubles.


In Spain and specifically in the Basque Country, commercial breaks all depend on the company and the amount of money paid for advertising. A commercial break can last anywhere from 4 to 8 minutes. They have a show guide in the television, however, it practically means nothing because the amount and length of advertisements depend on the amount of money paid.

4. Dogs on a leash?

A law has been established in the Basque Country about requiring dogs to be on leashes for safety of the owner and the general public. Many owners of dogs, however, do not follow this law and it can sometimes cause annoyance. The penalty for not having your dog on a leash is 25 euro. That is if the police actually stop you. This also causes health hazards to pets and the general public. Other pets and humans can be bitten if a dog is off its’ leash.

It is also wise to be cautious  as you walk through the land mind of dog waste in the street. People have there dogs excrete waste in the middle of the street and just leave it.

A sign asking owners to keep dogs on leashes and walking them. Instead dogs walk themselves.
A sign asking owners to keep dogs on leashes and walk them. Instead dogs walk themselves.

Pets are also allowed in most restaurants and bars with their owners.

The only time a dog is on a leash is when the dog is taken on the metro or other forms of public transportation.
5. Access to water

Access to water is not really a thing in Spain. Many Spaniards do not drink large amounts of water. This was a culture shock to me when I arrived to the country. In Spain you walk everywhere, so you would think that many would consume water.  There is “water is beer,” they say. There are no water fountains in schools,  everyone drinks tap water from the bathroom sinks. In addition, most restaurants will make you purchase water and not offer it for free.

6. Refrigeration

In Spain the majority of foods are not refrigerated after cooking them. The ingredients prior to preparing foods are refrigerated. After the food has been cooked and when food is left over it is typically left on the counter at room temperature for a number of days and consumed thereafter.

7. Colloquial Phrases

There area number of colloquial phrases involving food and below are just a few of them I could remember.

It is used when one person waits for a long time. The person arrives at the place very late, but arrives nontheless.

Used to tell a person that they are stupid, hard to understand things.

It is used to say that something is very easy.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and have learned some of the differences of the country. If you have any questions or comments about my posts, leave a comment below. Is there is something your interested in knowing more about…tell me.

Until next time….