Popping the Comfort Bubble

By Margaux Walker

Breakfast for dinner:

Eggs and bacon sound like a great breakfast right? Well, how about a great dinner?

In Miami, breakfast for dinner is a choice; however sometimes in the residence in Madrid, it’s not exactly an option. While we are not accustomed to these “strange” meals, eggs at night are very common in Spain. Throughout the country, omelettes with potatoes for lunch and dinner are nothing but traditional. Getting accustomed to such Spanish traditions and norms feel both unorthodox and rather strange.

“Strong Meal”:

In Spain it is typical to eat “La comida fuerte” in order to keep you strong throughout your day.  Do you ever eat so much that you feel the urge to fall right to sleep?  Here in Spain that is practically the goal. It is traditional in Spain to eat a super-sized lunch and take a “siesta” before returning to work. However, for us Americans, it is rather difficult to put myself into a food coma, and head right to class.

One may ask, why not just eat a smaller lunch? The answer is easy; one would starve while waiting for our 9 o’clock dinners. While this daily fast is a rather difficult adjustment, it is one we just all embrace in order to maintain our sanity.

From private cars to public transportation:

As Miamians, public transportation is not exactly our number one form of transit. This makes getting around Madrid, rather unconventional for us. While riding around in our cars, we get used to having our own privacy. However, in Spain we ride the metros with thousands of other people. We are exposed to “strange” people, interesting actions to say the least, and even put in uncomfortable situations at times. While the use of the metros is much more convenient for the Spanish population, it has definitely thrown us out of our comfort zone more often than not.


After a long day of classes and exploring, sometimes is nice to come home to watch a nice TV show or even a movie on Netflix. Unfortunately, here in the Residencia Nebrija, neither of those are an option. Netflix does not work in Spain; apparently the country does not support the site. Who knew that was even possible?

Our lack of access to certain amenities is a contributing factor to the culture shock. At night thanks to the time change you may find yourself awake with not very much to do. Times like these are where I for one, miss my Netflix.

The ability to control my thermostat is an amenity that I will never again take for granted. At home, I crank the thermostat in my bedroom down to 60 degrees. Here in Nebrija, there is no centralized AC. Zero. Thankfully we have lucked out with beautiful weather, so natural air has not been a problem. On our first night in Barcelona, all the GATEmates cranked their AC’s down to 60 degrees the minute they stepped through the hotel room door. Oh how we loved those hotel rooms.

Who knew that you needed to be a rocket scientist to pay for your fruits and vegetables? We are accustomed to handing our produce to the cashier where the fruit and vegetables then get weighed. However, here in Spain, when you expect your cashier to weigh the produce for you, they look at you like you are from another planet. They make you go back to the produce aisle to weigh and find the price of your produce, which then gets a sticker that tells the cashier how much to charge. Upon first experience, this system seems baffling.

The Euro:

1 Dollar seems like 1 Euro, right? Unfortunately this is one of the many confusions we have been faced with when living in Madrid. We have all quickly realized that our money does not go as far as it would back home. We forget about the conversion rate more often than not. It is almost as if we are programmed to work in dollars. Though our switch to the euro has not been a culture shock, it is definitely a change in the way of life I have come to enjoy.