Advice on my trip to Spain?
June 14, 2010 9:53 PM   Subscribe

I'm going on a trip to Spain with my classmates on Wednesday, any advice?

I'm going with twentyish of my classmates and three teachers. We're going to be visiting Madrid, Barcelona, Salamanca, Seville and Granada. It was booked through ACIS. I guess I'm just looking for advice on what to expect, stuff to avoid, random cultural things I should know as a visiting 17 year old? Apologies if this is too vague.
posted by kylej to Travel & Transportation around Spain (9 answers total)
It is hard to get a good feeling for a place, let alone a foreign place, in a group. You're always going to be loud, annoying, taking over a place. You and your group are likely to annoy everyone on your plane (please please please don't talk when the lights are out) especially.

People will want to drink on the trip. In Spain it is okay for 17-year-olds to drink. Your chaparones may struggle with this.

HOWEVER, if you do get a little taste for travel and independence, that's a great outcome. Have fun!
posted by k8t at 10:04 PM on June 14, 2010

If you are polite and respectful to people in Spain and try even a few broken words of Spanish (or Catalan in Barcelona), people will likely respond very well to you. That little bit of effort and friendliness from you, to not treat their country like a theme park will reward you greatly. We found people to be incredibly warm and gracious, and quite willing to speak English to us if they could.

Keep an open mind about everything. Try foods you've never had before, the seafood in Barcelona is to die for. If you get an opportunity to eat baby squid DO NOT PASS IT UP. Appreciate that you are getting a wonderful opportunity to visit a beautiful country and soak up the culture. There really is a wonderful atmosphere to the country, you're likely to have an amazing time.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:31 PM on June 14, 2010

Eat the paella. As much as you can stomach. No one in the states will ever replicate it. And you will only eat it again when you return to Spain.
posted by madred at 10:55 PM on June 14, 2010

I really hope these are more "friends" than just "classmates" - my first trip overseas was totally ruined by going with "classmates" and being on a schedule and their appreciating being away from their parents more than being in one of the world's most awesome cities. If you told me I'd willingly move to the same place 15 years later I would never have believed you. What I'm saying is, if it doesn't go well, you should go again.

Besides that, try to get as much time as possible (without seriously violating the rules) to interact with people who aren't part of your group. Read up on AskMe about how to avoid being an "ugly American." Speak as much Spanish as possible, even if you only know "hola" and "por favor." Ask questions. Try new foods. Find unusual stuff to bring back that'll trigger specific memories or stories or interests, rather than something made in China and shipped to Spain. If you're learning Spanish, ask people for vocabulary of common words you don't know or slang words (I guarantee you'll remember these words better than any vocab list). Don't be afraid to approach the chaperones to make suggested changes or ask for a little extra. Keep an eye on your stuff - don't be the easy mark in your group, and don't be so distracted by your cohorts or so drunk that you can't keep your shit together.

One thing my group did do well is organize a follow-up meeting to trade pictures (on film!), and I have since led other groups where we do more reflective follow-ups.
posted by whatzit at 10:55 PM on June 14, 2010

In Spain it is okay for 17-year-olds to drink

And how! But avoid the coke-and-red-wine the local teenagers get stuck into, it's foul.

Young men dress up to go out. When I was last in Madrid, collared or polo shirts were the norm on the street on Friday and Saturday nights.

You'll be waking up earlier, going to bed later, and eating less than you expect. Spanish breakfast is café solo, a sweet biscuit and a cigarette. Make sure you get stuck into your midday meal properly because you're not going to have anything else until 10pm or so, and it won't be much.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 11:21 PM on June 14, 2010

Watch out for pickpockets. Barcelona is full of pickpockets.
posted by dydecker at 11:30 PM on June 14, 2010

Avoid eating in any McDonalds, Burger King or anywhere else you recognise from back home...
posted by itsjustanalias at 12:20 AM on June 15, 2010

Read all the fantastic advice in this thread which is a trip like yours but from the chaperon perspective, and see how you can apply them to your own behaviour and instincts.
posted by Happy Dave at 1:28 AM on June 15, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the great advice so far! To clarify, I'm good friends with most of my classmates and I speak halfway decent Spanish.
posted by kylej at 8:20 AM on June 15, 2010

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