Sorry for using such a stupid American phrase in the title of this blog, but I just couldn’t help myself . . . 😉
So, on top of needing to learn the language here, I also am finding it difficult knowing things like what temperature it is, how much water is in that water bottle, how far away Bilbao and Pamplona is from here, understanding the temperature the oven is at when I am cooking a pizza, counting in my head to figure out what time it is when the clock says 21:30, or wondering how many calories is in my “special Spanish version” of Special K cereal. Why? Well when the ENTIRE WORLD except the U.S runs on the metric system, you’d understand.
The temperature is in celcius here, including the temperature outside, temperature of one’s body, and temperature of ovens and refrigerators. So when I’m walking by a “Pharmacia” here, they have the temperature displayed outside (much like they do at banks in the U.S.) and I have no clue what the temperature means in celcius just yet. Basically, if I want to understand, I could take the temperature in celcius that I see, then multiply it by 9/5, then add 32 and that would be the temp in Fahrenheit. Easy! Haha, not quite!
Instead of ounces, pounds, quarts, cups, gallons, etc, now I’m looking at a 375 gram box of cereal, and a 1L carton of “leche” or the so-called “milk” here (their milk is kind of weird… it’s not refrigerated when you buy it off the shelf and doesn’t quite taste as good as American milk!), a 125gram cup of yogurt,,, etc. The side of the box that displays the calorias and grasa (fat) is more confusing then any label I’ve looked at. Often, the amounts are for the ENTIRE package. Hmm…. well I dont really care how many calories are in the ENTIRE package of cookies, that’s just scary!
That sign on the side of the busy road that displays “60” means km per hour, not miles per hour, and I had to look up the conversion online to figure out that the sign that says “Bilbao: 100km” means it’s about 62 miles away from San Sebastian. Similarly, speeds are in kph, so I laughed to myself last night as we were driving on the freeway in transit to my roommate’s friend’s house for dinner and I saw the “120” speed limit sign. I know the number is in kph, but you can’t help but automatically think of mph. Imagine if the speed was REALLY 120 miles per hour!
In addition, like all of Europe, the time is displayed and referred to in “military time”, so by that guide I wake up at 8:00 and I have class from 9:30–13:00, eat dinner around 21:00 and go to bed about 2:00. Las tiendas (stores) are usually open M-F, 9:00-13:30 and 16:00-19:00. And looking at train, plane, and bus schedules requires tons of calculating in your head to figure out departing and arriving times. Hmmph.
I’m glad I have always been good at math, because I sure DEFINITELY need it out here!! Between all of these conversions in my head and the constant talking in Spanish to my roommates, profesora, classmates, and people in the bank, in stores, etc, my brain is in overdrive!!
I bet if they did an MRI on my recent/current brain activity, there would be enough light emanating from my brain it could light up a whole city!! hehehe . . . .