Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Social Commentary from Andalucía I

It's not that the Granadinos are smarter than Americans, it's just that common sense is actually common up here.
Here's a number of things I've been noticed about the people here.

1. Drinking
The drinking age is 18 here. Woop, woop.
Lowering the drinking age in the United States would make parties funner, yeah, and there'd be an increase in the debauchery of Spring Break. BUT BUT BUT people here know how to drink.
Along with most of my friends, I was raised to know how to drink. Discovering limits was okay and pushing my body past the limits was okay too, but only once and then only to learn why it's bad to push said limits to a breaking point.
It is common, or rather, the norm here to have a beer, maybe two with lunch and dinner.


The picture above was taken at the cafeteria in the med school here at the University of Granada. Were we to have one at UMIX at UTB/TSC, not only would Mr. Escudero (the owner) be able to put his 8 kids through med school without taking a loan, but he could probably get a house in the Hamptons, too.
Why? Because people like to drink to excess back home. No matter the time of day. Bars open early on and don't close till the wee hours of the morning. It's like a need for these people to go about life glassy eyed.
And "it's the valley lolololol they have to drink LUL" is NOT a good excuse. We have all sorts of greenery, it's not cow country like in other parts of Texas, and it's great weather. It's not a shitty place to live. You want shitty? There's two huge continents in this hemisphere that are truly shitty to live in. Here's a hint, they both start with A and neither of them are Australia.
People need to learn to drink. If people drank European (or at least how they drink here in Granada), the United States would be in a far better place.
On another note, it's not kosher here to drink whiskey straight. And it's okay for guys to drink chick drinks here without the respective snickering. The horror!

2. Driving
Driving here is a combination of Houston and Monterrey driving, with the added bonus that pedestrians are out to get you as well. It's laissez faire, here, but somehow people manage not to murder each other that readily. Oh, and you can't drive until you're 18 here. Which is AWESOME. Really. Too many brats out on the road back home.

3. Food
Food is...delicious. Here's the thing about Spaniards--they don't eat a lot of spicy food. This works great because I don't, either. Every plate I've had (and lord knows I've had a lot of plates) has been absoluetely delicious. The only exceptions have been two: Partridge Paté (wayy too strong for my taste) and queso cabrales, a cheese from the Asturias region of Spain that smells and tastes as if it was cured in shit. Everything else has been delicious.
Things to note:
Tortillas:Mexico :: Bread:Spain.
It's good, though. Tostadas (toast, not tortilla chips, funny enough) are good. I think my favorite so far has been the one with anchovies cured in olive oil and lemon and one I had today, which is a tostada with tomato and olive oil.
Olive oil's quite common.

4. Socialized medicine
It's not the boogeyman the United States is afraid of. If you're sick, you'll get treated, no matter who you are or where you come from. If you want "better" treatment (it's on an equal level) you can pay for it. Most doctors that work for public hospitals also supplement their income with their own private practice in the afternoon. None of them are starving, they just want to make more money. TAKE THE HINT, UNITED STATES. This type of socialized program is NOT BAD. Unless it's managed in the "oh shit, we actually have to do shit?" style (more commonly known as FEMA style)
The only thing there seems to be a backlash for is that some people don't like the idea that their money pays for sex changes.
But, honestly, if the gubmint's going to take my money, I would rather pay for Chris to be Christine than pay for the invasion of a sovereign land on false pretenses.


Where Granada's doctors are born.

5. Crime and Punishment
The Spaniards are a wee bit too lax. Shoot, rape gets you 10 years and murder gets you 30. You only get more years in jail for terrorism (separatist or otherwise). Some are trying to change that, but the rule is a bit liberal in that it believes people can change.
And my opinion is NO.
Some people don't change. Some people are just plain fucked up. Yes, society breaks some of these people, but the way to account for this mistake is NOT by letting a rapist get off after a slap on the wrist (ten years minus good conduct minus what the lawyer can get off equals slap on the wrist). It's extreme measures. I'm all for castration of proven rapists, not the oh my girlfriend is 17 and I'm 22 ones, but the ones where the girl is 16 and the guy's like thirty. Rape is NOT okay.

6. Gun control
Getting a gun here is pretty hard. Currently in Granada there's a case where eight guys break into this guy's house, tie him up and proceed to sexually assault his daughter. The guy goes to the safe where the money is, finds a gun and shoots one dead and wounds the other one. The rest flee.
GUESS WHO'S ON TRIAL FOR MURDER? (hint: it's not the criminals)
in Texas, if the case would even make it to a jury, he'd get a standing ovation.
And for good reason. You come into my house and try to rape someone I hold dear, I'm going to shoot you dead. And I'm going to make sure you're dead so that you won't try to get off on a technicality.
(That said, an armed campus is a bad idea, but that's a rant for another day)

7. Ctrl+A is Ctrl+E
This makes me MAD. Why is it ctrl+e to select everything here? If Ctrl+A is Ctrl+All, then what is Ctrl+E? Ctrl+Everything? Would make sense except it's a SPANISH KEYBOARD. raaaaarl.
That's it for now.

8. Interculturalism
The ERASMUS program is simply one of the most brilliant programs devised by Europeans. Basically, say you're getting a degree in X. With the ERASMUS program, you can study a year in any university in the EU and all credits will be counted towards the degree, whether it be a bachelor's degree or a master's degree. It's a bit like study abroad programs in the United States except you actually study abroad and not take 1 class and then play grab-ass with the other clowns who believe THAR BE DRAGONS* once you get past Raymondville.
In the class I am taking right now, there's three italians from the program and they're all pretty cool people. (There's also two Colombians and one Mauritanian. The Colombian accent reminds me heavily of the Chihuahuan accent. Pretty neat.)
Hopefully one day the EU and the United States and Mexico could get together to have a ... something program like that. Unfortunately given how Eurocentric Europe can be and how Americocentric the US can be, it's unlikely. The horror of some Americans to discover that they weren't the ones to singlehandedly win WWII and the horror of some Europeans to discover how much stuff comes from the Americas that they enjoy in their life would be far too much too handle. One thing, though. Everyone in my class speaks good Spanish, and good Spanish. Obviously it was the first language of many of the people in the class, but it was the second and even third of some others. I am told that in Spain other languages aren't stressed as much (unless of course you are raised in Cataluña or Vizcaya in which case you tend to be bilingual from the start) but elsewhere in Europe, being bilingual is the norm. Back in the U.S., being bilingual makes you awesome, being multilingual has colleges and employers beating a path to your door. Here, not so much.
That said, it's a bonus for people like me over there, who stand out and are easily found. The problem here is that since everyone's educated, you have to be pretty lucky to stand out more. Maybe save the prince's baby...from a burning house...while naked...fighting terrorists...and cooking paella...blindfolded.

Stinging 'em hard from Granada,


*--Point of view is the rule, but there are several exceptions

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