Teenage Social Life
The two kisses rule also applies to teenagers when they get together outside of school. When they meet up with a group of friends or are just introduced to new friends of friends, they are still expected to go to each person and greet them with los besos (two kisses) or a handshake. This greeting is then repeated at the end of the evening when a person leaves.
Although I consider living in a foreign culture an amazing experience, integrating into a new school and forming friendships can be challenging. During my year, I made some very close friends and leaving them in Spain was heart wrenching. I continue to maintain my long distance friendships through video calls and texting. I can’t imagine my life with out them. Human relationships are the pinnacle of living abroad and I truly hope that you find at least one special person with whom you connect. Here are some tips I have learned from my own practice and from other Americans who struggled to make friends, especially in a country that is not that open to foreigners.
- Your classmates may make a big fuss over you for the first few days because you are American. This charm will wear off and you will not make friends because you happen to be American, but because of who you are inside, and this takes time, especially if a language barrier prevents you from laughing and joking in Spanish.
- Do not expect students to feel any obligation to want to make you feel welcome in their school or country. Most likely, they aren’t going home asking their parents if they can have you over for dinner to share their Spanish traditions with you. This may sound harsh, but they just don’t care.
- As most school goes from preschool to 12th grade, students know each other very well, and friend groups are often tightly formed. Sometimes, it takes months to find the friend group in which you feel the most comfortable or one that will include you. Be patient, the longer you are there, the more friends you will make.
- Do not isolate yourself and sit alone in class or in the cafeteria. If ever you select a poor seating location, take the initiative and change seats!
- Get on the class WhatsApp group chat as soon as possible.
- Be nice to everyone and take an interest in their lives. Talk to fellow students about things you would typically discuss with your friends back home.
- Be positive about Spain if you want them to hang out with you. Nobody enjoys being with someone who is constantly criticizing their country or comparing it to the U.S.
- On the other hand, don’t let disparaging remarks about the U.S. get you down. Unless they have lived in the U.S., they are generalities and don’t apply to you personally.
- Even when you think you have found your perfect friend group, continue to foster new relationships in your school or outside of school. I played tennis far from where I went to school and I grew to cherish my tennis friends and the time we spent walking home after our lessons.
Social activities gradually become more co-ed and ramp up in 9th and 10th grades. By 11th grade, teenagers become very independent.
The minimum driving age is 18 in Spain, which means parents may still act as chauffeurs for their children, but many youth prefer their independence and use public transportation or Cabify (a popular Spanish ride sharing service like Uber, with free Wi-Fi and bottled water).
Activities vary from hanging out at someone’s home or hanging out at a popular commercial area that has restaurants. The typical time to gather is around 10:00 pm and until 1:00 am. Fast food restaurants are popular in Spain and do not have a negative connotation as in some American cities.
Home parties are the most sought after social activity in 10th and especially 11th and 12th grades. Party hosts invite friends who can propose friends of friends, but ultimately, the party hosts create a exclusive party invitation list, and if you are not on the list, it is difficult to get in. Parties start around 10:30 pm and end around 3:00 am
Alcohol is often present at parties (typically liquor and beer), but the goal is not to get drunk, rather it is just to loosen up a bit and have fun. However, I have been told that there is more binge drinking among students in public schools. Cigarette smoking is common in Spain, so expect to smell like smoke after an evening at a party. Vaping is practically nonexistent.
Although, the official drinking and smoking age is 18, parents are quite lax with drinking and smoking starting at age 16. In fact, many parents serve children drinks at family functions starting well before age 18. I have only heard reference to marijuana, but never saw anyone smoke pot or use hard drugs. However, I understand drug use is more prevalent among the public school crowd.
Dancing is very popular at parties in Spain and if everyone dances, it’s considered a successful party. Sometimes girls and boys even break out a few Flamenco steps, which is fun to watch.
School Sporting Events
As mentioned in the Education section, it is not uncommon to go to school events to watch fellow students play various sports, however, the games are typically held on weekend afternoons and are not part of the evening social life.
Concerts are a popular social activity for high school students, but require advanced planning to buy tickets. Musical acts include European and American bands and singers.
Although bullfights or corridas are now forbidden in many parts of Spain, in Madrid, they are still popular, and contrary to what many believe, are not just popular with older Spaniards. During the festivals like La Feria de Otoño in October and La Feria de St. Isidro in May/June, it is common for groups of teenagers to buy cheap tickets and attend the bullfights. Some of the attraction may be attributed to the handsome and ornately dressed matadors, who if successful in the ring, are celebrated like rock stars
See blog LA CORRIDA DE TOROS – BULLFIGHTS.
Music plays a major role in Spaniards’ everyday life. Music is frequently blasting in the kitchen, bathroom, porch, social gatherings, and of course at evening fiestas. They listen to Latino music as well as songs from their own Spanish artists. The genre of music is usually Reggaeton, which contains a danceable beat, crucial for fiestas. Some American music is played, mostly in retail operations such as in department stores and grocery stores.