There are little things that travel books and guides won’t tell you. Not because of some big conspiracy, or that they’re trying to hide something from you, but because they’re just too insignificant to mention. Don’t worry, I’ve got you.
There are no locks inside of houses.
This one I learned very quickly after my arrival. There aren’t locks to doors inside of a home, which makes bathrooms and bedrooms a lot less private. If privacy is a big issue for you, I suggest leaving a backpack or bag against the door. Either that, or master the sit-on-the-toilet-but-also-have-one-hand-braced-on-the-door-move, like I did.
Touching is a much more casual thing.
I hadn’t noticed how little Americans touch each other until I arrived in Catalonia. When we do touch, it’s usually a specific gesture, such as a hug or shaking a hand. That, or it’s a sexual thing. We don’t often simply touch our friends with no motive. In Catalonia, this is different. Friends and strangers are much more generous with plutonic touches and physical displays of friendship.
Sidewalks are Chaos
Remember in elementary school when we were still learning how to be normal humans and we would all walk from classroom to classroom in one big line? Remember how that line was always on the right side of the hallway? I had almost completely forgotten this small step in my societal conditioning until I arrived in Barcelona and there were no rules. In America, people take great care to walk on the right side of a sidewalk and to maintain a personal bubble of space at all times. This is not a thing in Catalonia. People walk all over. They bump into you. Perfect your angry, “I’m-not-gonna-move-stranger-so-you-better-move-around-me” stare now.
Meals are Structured a Bit Differently.
In America, we usually get a big ol’ chunk of meat with a couple of small portions of maybe vegetables or starches sprinkled around the edges of the plate. In Catalonia, you get a bite of this, a bite of that, and you top it all off with fruit. It’s amazing.
Got any more tips? Let me know.