If you’re going to study in Barcelona, there are several things you should know about the city you are moving to. Here’s a list of 10 things about Barcelona and its local citizens that you won’t find on Wikipedia.
1. We don’t normally tip
Certainly not 15-20%. It is customary to pay a 5% tip if you go to a fancy restaurant, but we wouldn’t leave a tip to a taxi driver or to a bartender if we only had a coffee or a pastry, especially if the service was bad. However, if the service is excellent or there is some special treatment (like going to a hairdresser and getting a free coffee), then we do tip (usually we leave a few coins or the change). Although everyone here will welcome a tip, they don’t really need it, like in other countries.
2. We have two main football teams
Barcelona not only has Futbol Club Barcelona, but also Reial Club Deportiu Espanyol. They are both excellent first division teams and when they play against each other (El Derbi) the stands shudder with excitement. I would even venture to say that, after “El Clásico” (FC Barcelona-Real Madrid C.F.), it is probably the most expected game for all football fans in Barcelona. FC Barcelona fans are called “Culés” and RCD Espanyol fans are known as “Pericos”.
3. We love “Calçotades”
It would be similar to a barbecue, except we call that “carn a la brasa”, and we eat the meat with calçots (hence calçotada), pa amb tomàquet (toasts smeared with tomato, salt, oil and garlic), romesco sauce and allioli (both traditional Catalan sauces). It is a very common and delicious tradition to gather together with your friends or family and spend hours drinking and eating the grilled meat and the calçots, because, yes, our meals do last forever!
4. We drink wine from a porró
A “porró” is a wine container made out of glass. It has a spout on top so you can fill it up and another one closer to the bottom that gets slimmer towards the tip – from which the wine flows back out. In order to drink, you must hold the container further away so you can pour the wine straight into your mouth. It is a fun challenge!
5. We speak two languages and neither of them is English
Politics aside, every Catalan speaks both Catalan and Spanish. We are bilingual by birth. The fact that some people don’t want to speak one or the other is due to their own ideological beliefs and, sometimes, the lack of practice using one of the two languages, which makes them embarrassed to use them.
6. Difference between “La Senyera” and “L’Estelada”
I am sure that you will see plenty of both flags around Catalonia and you might wonder what the difference is between these two. Well… La Senyera is the official flag of the autonomous community of Catalonia. It consists of four red stripes on a yellow background. Historically, it is a symbol that represents this territory and its inhabitants. On the other hand, L’Estelada is an unofficial flag used by Catalan separatists to protest. It keeps the yellow and red stripes and adds a five-pointed star in a triangle at the hoist.
7. People tend to be more welcoming to foreigners if they know some Catalan
For instance, hola (hello), adéu (goodbye), com estàs? (how are you?), guapo/guapa (good-looking), em dic XXXXX (my name is XXXXX), t’estimo (I love you). We really don’t expect you to speak Catalan, but if you can drop a word here and there, that always surprises people in a good way!
8. Having guests over
Spanish people are pretty forward and may have a different idea of what it means to be polite than in your own countries. In general, if we tell someone that they can stay with us when visiting, we mean it (or else, we just wouldn’t say it). Also, it is customary to offer a tour around the house when you have a guest over for the first time.
9. Fonts Bessones de Plaça Catalunya
The newly renovated twin fountains in Plaça Catalunya now include a light show! They run from 9pm to 12am from Thursday to Sunday every half hour! Come see it!
Thanks for reading this post! We hope to see you soon, coming back for more.
And remember! If you need to find student accommodation in Barcelona, you’ll find the student home you’re looking for on Uniplaces.com.