Galicia: First Impressions

The view from the castle in Ferrol, located north of Coruña, which I visited in my first two weeks in the region.

This coming Tuesday, October 28th, will mark one full month in Galicia for me. I have never been to this region before but I heard nothing but wonderful things about it when I received my placement n this region with the North American Language and Culture Assistant program back in May 2014. Even the horror stories of how it rains for days here sin parar in the wintertime didn’t scare me off. I was living in sunny Northeast Florida in my college city up until the spring of this year when I moved back home to Ohio and needed a change of pace as well as climate.

A nice long stint in Galicia seemed like the perfect spot for me, and even if I do get tired of the rain, I can always jet off to a new location in Spain for the weekend or cross the border into another European country and explore til my heart’s content. Speaking of the rest of Europe, I have some trips planned, but before I can take them, I had to adjust to this new-to-me sub-culture of Spain and get settled into a rhythm and daily routine myself.

Here is a short list of my impressions of Galicia and how it differs from the rest of Spain (in my opinion). Keep in mind that I am more used to the Spaniards in the South – primarily Andalucia – who are a lively and boisterous group of people and Galicians are quite the opposite. I’m learning to appreciate both cultures in different ways and I’m glad I am out of my comfort zone here. That’s not to say that I don’t just about get googly-eyed when I met an Andaluz here in some part of Galicia, haha!

Anyway onto the list:

1. Galicians are more reserved and may come across as cold when you first meet them. They are not quick to give their opinion on a certain topic and often add, “Well, I don’t know,” after giving you their opinion. I think it’s because they want you to form your own opinion of a place. That’s not to say that they aren’t proud of their region -they really are! They seem to be a little more modest to me. Galicians are also not as likely to make eye contact with you or smile at you when you pass them on the street unless they know you personally or are related to you. You have to make the effort to get to know them and once you do, you will have a friend for life.

The interesting thing about living in Coruña is that you will meet a lot of people from different parts of the region and world!

2. Saying chao vs. saying hasta luego. This is more of a difference between the colloquial phrases used in Galicia compared to Andalucia or Madrid and not the people themselves. Well, maybe that’s part of it too. You hear the locals saying ‘chao’ more often than ‘hasta luego’ but it depends on the part you’re in. I am used to saying ‘ta luegooooooo and really carrying out the last ‘o’ as they do in Andalucia. However, I like these distinct differences in the use of the language as it helps me separate my experiences and memories in both regions a bit better.

3. It is so green, foggy and mountainous in this region! I also knew this by doing a ton of research before arriving in this beautiful land but seeing it with my own two eyes was a whole different story. Take a look for yourself:

4. The smaller the town you visit, the more gallego you hear in the streets and stores. You can also find it spoken in small shops in bigger cities (spoken by older people more but young people too) which I love! In just the past two weeks I had small conversations with two people in Gallego (Galician). I could get the gist of what they were saying as I also speak conversational Portuguese which sounds a little similar to the language. It was so much fun though my vocabulary is very limited right now, haha!

Did I mention it’s not only very affordable but that restaurants and bars give you huge portions? (Well, now you see it!)

5. The food is so varied and rich – and not to mention cheap here! I am living in a part of Galicia that is known for its seafood and I couldn’t be happier. I have been putting off trying pulpo as the best pulperías are a ways away from me in the city center (and not to mention cost a bit more per plate/tapa)…but I will try it soon! I have tried many other typical dishes which I will share more about soon!

Feel free to add a comment about YOUR favorite place in Galicia or Spain in general if you have been here.

Hasta luegoooo….er, chaooo! 🙂

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