The little things about a big city

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I’m not the most observant person. I’ve been called a sieve on numerous occasions by my old housemates. My mum will point things out about people and places that have never even crossed my mind. My brother is a human satnav because he always remembers locations he has travelled to.

Being in another country, however, makes it a lot easier for one to observe cultures and customs, as an outsider. I’m making a list (and checking it twice), and here is the first instalment of “The little things about a big city”. Enjoy.

  1. They don’t ask you how your meal is every five minutes. They just let you eat. Thank goodness.
  2. People are always in cafes socialising over coffee. Or wine. Or both.
  3. Inconsistent admin. Always. I would tell you how to get things done in Bilbao but in all honesty, I have no idea, it changes all the time.
  4. The Gin and Tonic ratio in clubs are out of this world.
  5. Unisex toilets exist. On purpose, not out of convenience like that random dilapidated bathroom in the back of a coffee shop. In some cases, there’s gender neutral ones too.
  6. Kids are roaming the streets late at night, whether they are playing outside or just hanging out with their parents. I swear I’m in bed before them, regardless of whether I’m teaching the next day or not.
  7. Blue wine exists? It’s very sweet and it tastes like squash- a recipe for disaster.
  8. Return tickets don’t seem to exist here, so what looks like a cheap metro ride can actually add up after a while.
  9. They put up their massive umbrellas after the tiniest dribble of rain. Who has time for that when it’s just spitting down and your house is just around the corner?
  10. The majority of pintxos have egg in them. Having an egg allergy must suck, at least vegans will have probably scouted out the vegan-friendly bars (aka Twiggys)
  11. Construction. All the time. Whether it’s maintaining the travellators outside my school, or repainting the road, or just building something random, I don’t think there’s been a day where I haven’t seen construction tape somewhere.
  12. Students literally do not stop having exams. We thought we had it bad by having exams every year, I swear some of my kids have them every week.
  13. Tree decoration is a bit of a mess. Sometimes it’s beautiful (points to Algorta), sometimes it’s just trippy (Gran Via, I’m looking at you).
  14. Christmas adverts aren’t Oscar worthy masterpieces. I’ve made a fair few children emotionally distressed after showing them this year’s John Lewis advert.
  15. They have their own Santa, and their own Christmas carols. IN BASQUE. It’s so cool that I now live in such a unique region of Spain with its own traditions.

I am now in the airport hoping that my flight won’t get delayed further, wish me luck.

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