26 Things Spain Does Better Than The United States

26 Things Spain Does Better Than The United States

Besides, like, just being Spain.
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As you may have guessed from other articles, I went to Spain with a group of people from my school this summer and lived there for two and a half weeks, staying for a weekend each in Barcelona and Cadiz but living the rest of the time with a host abuela in Seville. While we were there, living like locals, we noticed many differences between Spain and the United States, and some of them just... made more sense there.

1. Recycling is serious business.

Europe in general recycles more than America, but it's more than just recycling old milk jugs. On each corner, more commonplace than trash cans, actually, are four or five large recycling containers, one for each type of recyclable. And yes, people really do "bother to sort them all"; multiple days, we saw older women with three bags, one with cardboard, one foam and one plastic, come down to the recycle bins and put their goods into it.

2. Municipal bike stands exist. And people bike EVERYWHERE.

All you need is your pass, which you buy for a time duration. Then you go get a bike from a nearby stand, and, as long as you continue to check your bikes into other easily-accessible municipal bike stands around the cities, you have a bike to ride. Maybe this is one hint as to why the Spanish are so much more active and rely so much less on their cars?

3. Tax is included in price tags.

This is such a big deal!!! Instead of doing the American thing where you go, "Well, yeah so it's $10, but I have to factor in $.70 for tax so with this $10 bill I can't get that shirt", which is confusing because like, the price says $10, tags in Spain have tax included. If you have a €10 bill, you can buy something costing €10. It's great to have so much LESS change in your pockets.

4. Tipping is not expected or essential.

Service industry employees actually make a livable wage in Spain, so tipping is not expected. Although it is a nice way to say thank you for a job well done, it is not expected to be 20% or anything like employees in the U.S. need in order to make a solid salary. In fact, rounding €1.75 to €2 is a fine tip. Again, money planning here is SO much easier.

5. Pharmacies only sell medication.

It really was shocking to go into a pharmacy and see, like... just medication. Some soap was there as well, but no aisles of makeup or food. And, unironically enough, pharmacies there don't sell tobacco like their American counterparts do. Our teachers were really surprised that this was an interesting concept to us.

6. Drinks are included in meal prices.

€4 gets you a sandwich, a small OJ and a small coffee. None of this ordering separately (especially since each paying for each separately would be a lot more than €4), just get a meal and pick your drink. Small downside - you can't get tap water, so you're gonna pay for water, but hey... it's still included.

7. Public services are a lot more efficient.

No mail trucks block traffic, fire trucks are reasonable and there are no private trash bins, so large garbage trucks go to pick up from cornerside recycle bins instead of trying to get down every street. These are all faster, easier and cheaper, even if it does require OH SO MUCH MORE EFFORT to walk to a recycle/trash can instead of just opening your door to your garage.

8. Pop-up convenience stores are on every corner.

They're like legit newstands, and they're everything your local QT would have - candy and snacks (including drinks), newspapers, postcards/souvenirs, and small useful trinkets like keychains and pocketknifes. These stands are great - and the people are usually good to ask for directions.

9. Misters are on every awning, and every restaurant has an awning.

Restaurant awnings have misters that go off every so often, both to aid their customers and the passerby. Also, almost all restaurants feature patio or sidewalk collection of tables so that their customers can enjoy the atmosphere and the beautiful weather. So, lots of misters.

10. Inner courtyards mean no lawn mowing.

Seriously. Our abuela was growing plants in the atrium of her apartment building, but a lot of places have full courtyards with trees and some grass. Space is limited, though, so no lawnwork needed.

11. Taxis are free for the elderly, especially in times of extreme weather.

Taxis are pretty reasonably priced on a good day, but, especially in the depths of summer and winter where extreme temperatures are probable (it was 112 one day in Seville.. eek), taxis are free for elderly citizens! I'm not sure the cut-off age, but this is such a good idea, especially since Europeans in general walk everywhere. Our host abuela could still go every day to the markets and buy fresh bread and fruits without having to walk two miles in 100+ degree weather.

12. Nap hour is a godsend.

Siesta hour is real - a lot of places shut down in mid afternoon (around 2pm) for an hour or two to take a post-nap lunch. Given how good Spanish food is, we loved this siesta hour. Food comas are also real.

13. Restaurants have at least one copy of their menu in other languages.

Not just English - all other European languages, regional dialects like Catalan and other widely-spoken languages like Chinese were usually represented with their own copy of a menu at almost all sit-down restaurants that we visited. I have no idea how ordering would go, though - maybe pointing..?

14. Architecture is just, so pleasing.

Every building was unique, both in outward design and color, and even the modern buildings were like this as well. No subdivisions or HOAs here to enforce conformity! Each street has character and each place has a personality - can we please adopt this everywhere, America??

15. Everything is much healthier...

Sugar = real cane sugar. Fast food? Nowhere to be seen. Even Spanish dessert is typically a piece of fruit (like a paraguayo, a flatter version of a peach that really doesn't taste like a peach) or a small, 6-8oz. latte.

16. ...and fresher.

The markets were almost scary, since the meat like... still included the eyeballs. And the snails were still crawling and alive. But hey, everything was fresh.

17. The street clean-up crews are wildly efficient.

The cities are gorgeous. And when something breaks or gets messed up, it'll probably be fixed within a week.

18. Graffiti is everywhere, but it looks amazing.

After stores close, these metal sheets roll down and cover the entrance, and almost every metal sheet is graffitied. Since it goes away during the business day, this vandalism isn't harmful, but it makes the streets beautiful in an artistic way even after everything is closed.

19. You can just, like... talk to everyone.

Directions? Need a lesson in history for your class? People do not ignore you like they do in America when you approach them.

20. It's really easy to tell what a store is selling.

Stores in Spain tend to sell one thing; as mentioned above, pharmacies sell medicine, tobacco stands sell tobacco, supermarkets sell food and household supplies, etc. Also, if you know Spanish, the ending of a store tends to be -eria, and if you understand what the stem before the ending was, you'll know exactly what they're selling. For example, a panaderia sells bread, which is "pan" in Spanish.

21. Fresh juice = an entire meal, for half the cost.

Juice, or zumos, come in a wide variety and definitely serve as an entire meal, although you don't pay the premium for freshness that we do in America ($7 at Whole Foods for a juice? $10 at I Love Juice Bar? miss me with that). I had a drink of avocado + coconut milk in La Boqueria in Barcelona for €2, and that was my lunch. It was the best thing I've ever had.

22. We can just walk there.

I think we walked ten miles a day. No joke, I just checked my pedometer.

23. Not everything closes at 7pm.

Spanish dinners are usually around 8-9pm, later than in America, so everything is open later. Shops close earlier, but restaurants stay open, as well as dessert places/cafes, stalls that are put into public squares, and parks. It was weird to be able to walk in and sit in the park near our house for an hour at 10:45, but... one can.

24. Lemon Fanta.

10/10 recommend.

25. Tapas.

Spanish dinner style tends to be mobile - tapas are small plates of food that one gets to share with their friends (since everyone gets a small plate). After you're done at one restaurant, you go to another. Tapas bars are amazing, and so is the food and the concept.

26. Like, being in Spain.

Obviously I'm biased, since Spain was just such a unique experience to me, but... maybe America should just go be in Spain.

Cover Image Credit: Spain.com

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I'm The College Girl Who Likes Trump And Hates Feminism, And Living On A Liberal Campus Is Terrifying

I will not sugarcoat it: I don't feel safe on my own campus.

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I will get right to the point: being a conservative on a liberal college campus in 2019 downright terrifying.

At my university, I'm sure about 90% of the population, both students and faculty, are liberals. They are very outspoken, never afraid to express their views, opinions, and feelings in several ways. There are pride events for the LGBT community, a huge celebration for MLK day, and tons of events for feminists.

Then there's the minority: the conservatives. The realists. The "racists," "bigots," and "the heartless." I am everything the liberals absolutely despise.

I like Donald Trump because he puts America first and is actually getting things done. He wants to make our country a better place.

I want a wall to keep illegals out because I want my loved ones and me to be safe from any possible danger. As for those who are genuinely coming here for a better life, JUST FILL OUT THE PAPERWORK INSTEAD OF SNEAKING AROUND.

I'm pro-life; killing an infant at nine months is inhumane to me (and yet liberals say it's inhumane to keep illegals out…but let's not get into that right now).

I hate feminism. Why? Because modern feminism isn't even feminism. Slandering the male species and wanting to take down the patriarchy is just ridiculous.

I hate the media. I don't trust anyone in it. I think they are all biased, pathological liars. They purposely make our president look like the devil himself, leaving out anything good he does.

I will not sugarcoat it: I don't feel safe on my own campus.

I mostly keep my opinions to myself out of fear. When I end up getting one of my "twisted" and "uneducated" thoughts slip out, I cringe, waiting for the slap in the face.

Don't get me wrong; not everyone at my university is hostile to those who think differently than they do.

I've shared my opinions with some liberal students and professors before, and there was no bloodshed. Sure, we may not see eye to eye, but that's okay. That just means we can understand each other a little better.

Even though the handful of students and faculty I've talked to were able to swallow my opinions, I'm still overwhelmed by the thousands of other people on campus who may not be as kind and attentive. But you can't please everybody. That's just life.

Your school is supposed to be a safe environment where you can be yourself. Just because I think differently than the vast majority of my peers doesn't mean I deserve to be a target for ridicule. No one conservative does. Scratch that, NO ONE DOES.

I don't think I'll ever feel safe.

Not just on campus, but anywhere. This world is a cruel place. All I can do is stand firm in my beliefs and try to tolerate and listen to the clashing opinions of others. What else can I do?

All I can say is... listen. Be nice. Be respectful of other's opinions, even if you strongly disagree. Besides, we all do have one thing in common: the desire for a better country.

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Why I Love Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, not for political reasons

I don't want to talk about political beliefs necessarily when I talk about why I fucking love AOC.

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My political affiliation couldn't be kept a secret even if I tried. In the words of my mother, I've been a liberal since I popped out of the womb. So to me, the dramatic change in representation in the House was a huge win for me at this time in history.

While I sit on one side of the aisle because that's where I hear the most conversations about my closest political beliefs happening, I don't want to talk about political beliefs necessarily when I talk about why I fucking love Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The first I'd ever heard of this powerful voice from New York was in a video being shared around on Facebook that gave me a strong sense of hope that I haven't felt in a while. She explains the nuance behind "identity politics" and the importance of complete representation in Congress in terms of race, class, and policy. Here was a young woman in my generation (or just outside of it) running for Congress because she knew there was work to be done, not because she knew she would win, or because of some larger force paying her to win, or because she comes from a family of politicians. She ran because she was passionate and because she works to understand her district and represent them in ways that give her district a matched fight with revolving-door politicians who know how to play the game.

This woman, to me, represents accessibility into politics for Americans. When I first started listening to politicians and presidents talk on TV, I remember listening to Obama speak my freshman year of high school (maybe for a state of the union address?) and I asked my mom what a lot of words meant. I learned what poverty, immigration, economic policy, taxes, the middle-class, and more were. She had answers for some but not all of my questions, and then I asked why they felt the need to use such big, intimidating words? Weren't they supposed to represent the country, who to my understanding, probably didn't know what all of these words meant if my own mother didn't? (Moms know everything.)

I didn't want to be left behind in a country that made decisions based on Harvard graduate levels of thinking when most of us were in fact, not Harvard graduates. I was aware when Obama used words I had on a vocabulary test the week before, and I was aware that my honors class was strikingly different from my friends' general education English classes, and that our entire high school was years ahead of some less privileged schools 30-minutes away. But all of us, no matter how politically accessible our situations were or not, were to be represented by a man using these words.

AOC is progressive (in a non-political sense) for Americans because she uses rhetoric and tools to educate Americans instead of persuading or intimidating them to think that she just knows best. She's a politician, yes, so of course she uses persuasive techniques to get policy she believes in to pass so she can do her job as a legislator. But have you seen her Instagram stories or heard her speak in interviews?

Her style of leadership involves a refreshing level of transparency and group participation. I feel like I'm allowed to ask questions about what happens in Washington D.C., and about what another congressperson meant when they said ______. She answers questions like these online to her followers, some of which are her represented correspondents, and some of which are people outside of her district just desperate to expose themselves to any congressperson willing to talk to them on their level. Her flow inspires the average American to listen and checks the confident incumbent from underestimating just how much she knows.

Not all of us are fortunate enough to afford college. Not all of us are fortunate enough to come from a community where high schools prepared and primed us for college-level vocabulary filled conversations. Some of us have to accept politics as a realm with which we can never be involved, heard, or interactive. A.O.C. is what's changing this mentality. 43% of adults living in poverty function at low literacy rates. If they can't understand political rhetoric, how will they be able to democratically participate? Politicians spend so much time talking about poverty rates and how they want to move every family into a middle-class lifestyle, but they don't alter their political approach to invite the poverty-stricken or under-educated Americans into their conversations. AOC does this.

She spends time every night explaining whatever her followers have questions about in full detail. She actually uses up-to-date technology and social media to communicate with Americans, making older senators look lazy or technologically incompetent for not engaging with their community as often or as explicitly. Not to mention, every video I've ever seen produced by her or her team (including her Instagram stories) have closed-captions already edited in. She considers every American to be her audience before speaking, and the fact that what she's doing feels new and refreshing to me suggests just how badly we need her, and more people like her, in politics today.

This isn't even because of her understanding that literacy affects voting--in the original video I saw of her, she understands that the people she represents were flat-out not being addressed in politics. "People aren't voting because no one is speaking to them." Truly and meaningfully, directly and honestly.

She's America's teacher, a representative of why mentorship on all levels is important, and to me, what America would look like if our politicians were not only our representatives, but our educators, our mentors, and our teammates.

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