After a month of living in Spain you begin to ease into the relaxed culture. But at first it can be a little difficult. Which can be so clearly exemplified by the registration process. Receiving our vague schedules for our welcome week only a few days before it began, we were already a little apprehensive. But all went smoothly , though occasionally things wouldn't start until half an hour after the starting time. As my Spanish friends explained to me, it's simply not a problem, they don't stress about these things because why would they? For us it's extremely frustrating because we're so used to strict schedules and deadlines, but here they savour the relaxing moments of the day.
A Very Different University
The University experience here is entirely different to that of DCU. Loyola is a small private university just outside the city. Class sizes range from 15-30 people and lectures are in small classrooms with aggressively cold air conditioning. The university campus itself is on loan from a neighbouring company, while Loyola build their own campus. Where the university lacks in community and clubs and socs, it makes up for in intimate lectures and a lot of continuous assessment. Daily homework is a norm, as are regular small tests, and most large projects are broken up into weekly submissions. And the most terrifying of aspects, compulsory attendance of 70%. All of these mixed together results in, me extremely stressed at having to maintain consistency, a complete 180 from the independence and once off testing of DCU. I believe that this method of learning aims to engage more students, almost forcing you into regular study and it also really stresses consistency. It also is a much more forgiving system, your whole university career does not hinge on one exam at the end of the year, it hinges more on your consistent ability to work hard and not procrastinate.
Lazy Afternoons in the Park
Living Outdoors at Night
A big difference that you realise straight away is that nobody stays in. You see people of all ages, out and about at all hours. Restaurants usually don't have many seats indoors and there's usually very few people in there. People do everything later on here, social hours are from 7pm to late. Due to the incredible heat here, it's hard to function from 3pm-6pm or even 7pm. You can understand why you wouldn't want to eat your dinner or hang out with your mates when it's 38 degrees outside. I think because of this, people are more open as well. They're not afraid to show affection publicly or talk about problems in the middle of a restaurant, because that's the equivalent to their living room. Another big difference is that people eat out a lot. It's very typical for companies to give employees a quick break in the morning to have breakfast, where most people will pop out to a restaurant or bar, have a toastada and coffee, standing up, and head back to work. Food in restaurants is much cheaper than Ireland, to go for tapas and a beer is as normal in Spain as meeting a friend for coffee in Ireland. I think it may be linked to the living outdoors style of life, people aren't comfortable being stuffed up in there living room every evening and tapas bars and local restaurants provide a more social, affordable option.