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Wednesday April 9th "Que verguenza - no me gusta..."

A note to students living or traveling in Sevilla. Try and take your head out of your arse and look around once in a while (that goes for many, but not all of you). Saw the NCAA Championship (tape delayed by one day) in the "Tex-Mex" Bar, which was full of American students. I'd like to offer a few tips to those of you there and walking around the streets of Sevilla. Now I'm not saying you should hide the fact that you're American - although some of you should since I have nothing but thoughts of shame when I realize you come from the same country or state as I do - but at least look around and realize where you are, and perhaps follow one or two of the customs. Yes, I am showing my age a bit - but from time to time you all scare me. But if you want to enjoy things here and fit in just a bit, give these a try:

  • Take off your baseball cap - or for that matter leave it at home. Whether it's worn the correct way or the wrong way you still look like an idiot (backwards makes you even more of an ass). People do not go out for the night wearing one - tape a sign on your back that you're a dumb-ass and I think you'll be treated better.
  • "I was sooo drunk last night..." - nobody cares how drunk you were, are, or are going to be. This is not a topic of conversation, but rather a reflection of your intelligence (ie.: low) when you babble loudly in a bar about how much you had to drink. Spanairds, Americans, etc. are not impressed ("Wow, that kid over there had 5 shots of tequila! I need to write that down somewhere"). Sure, drinking can be fun, but there are things to do here in Sevilla. Lift those eyes above the rim of that glass and look around. And for that matter...
  • Don't order a pitcher of beer - drink one at a time - really, TRY IT. They don't run out of beer here, and if you hadn't noticed beer tastes better when it's cold. There are plenty of places to drink beer, so you don't have to camp out in one place for the whole night either. That leads me to...
  • Avoid going to an Irish Pub every night - sure, it's an Irish pub, it's just like the one's back home and maybe every once in a while you want a pint of Guinness, but every night??!?. I like these places from time to time, and it may be your only chance to hear something which is not Spanish pop while sipping a beer or two. A quick view of one guestbook led me to these wonderfully insightful comments from a typical "nightly" guest:

Name: Marisa
Country: Boston Massahusetts USA

I was in Seville in March 2001, went <there> almost every night, met hot guys and drank lots of Tinto de Viranos, HAD A BLAST!!!!!

Really - this is a real entry in a guest I need to add anything to this comment? Ok, maybe that they misspelled "verano", but I am sure she was "sooo drunk" when she wrote this that she couldn't spell. And who the hell visits Spain so they can be in an Irish pub every night? Does she even know they speak Spanish here? There is a place and time for these, maybe when you are homesick. But visiting an English speaking pub all the time means you are out of the loop in Spain most of the time.

  • Flip-flops are not shoes - ok, I know at the beach or in the States this may be acceptable, but here people tend to put real shoes on their feet, at least before the summer. Leave them at home and buy a pair here when you get to the beach.
  • T-shirts - yes, Spaniards wear t-shirts, too. Some of them in English I'll admit make no sense, and look like they were written somewhere in Japan: "USA School Fun", "Master Jump", "Style Fashion Girl", etc. But please leave you're clever little frat and sorority drink-a-thon shirts back home. I especially want to say this to the cool fellow wearing the "Laundry 101" shirt, hiking boots, shorts and a backwards baseball cap - you win the prize!
  • Start a fight in a bar - . If someone wants to get by you, or perhaps watch the game (you know who you are out there) and asks if they can pass or if you can move a bit, this is not a signal that they want to fight you. People do use words here, and might even express themselves angrily without their fists. They have likely been drinking less than you and just maybe thinking a little more than you as well. That's ok - you'll have plenty of time to go back home and start fights there, and you get to beat up people who might really deserve it.

Many more will come to mind I'm sure. Look, I was a student here once and did my share of stupid things, too. I did manage to learn from them and hope you can learn a thing or two from what I've listed above. Have a good time, you're American and that's just great. But from time to time try to realize that you're in another country and try to conform to a few things. We don't all need to be card-carrying, flag-waving Americans all the time. Sit back and enjoy the fact that you're in a different place, and don't ask why they do it this way or that way all the time.

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