Similarities between China and Spain
I am currently on holidays (yay!) in a small town in the southwest of Spain. It is one of those places by the sea which are quiet and empty during the winter, but in the summer their population increases tenfold. There is not much to do here, apart from swimming in the sea, lying in the sun or reading a book, so I had time to observe the people and their vacationing habits and I found several similarities between China and Spain (or at least the south of Spain):
– Grandparents are a great help to working parents
It is not quite the same as in China, where many couples would leave their kid with the grandparents and move to a different city to work but, during the summer, grandparents have a similar role as in China. Kids in Spain have three months of summer holidays (mid-June to mid-September), however working parents have one, at most. Some parents send their children to summer camps or, if they are well off, to study English abroad, but the cheapest option is sending them to spend the holidays with their grandparents in the beach (if they own an apartment there) or to the village from which the family originally came from.
So when you are in the beach, one of the most yelled words you will hear is: “¡¡¡Abuelaaaa!!!” (grandma) or “¡¡¡Abueloooo!!!” (grandpa).
– Spanish people are as noisy as Chinese people
I know a lot of foreigners in China complain that Chinese people are very noisy and for example if you are eating in a restaurant it can be difficult to enjoy a quiet atmosphere (well, it depends on the kind of restaurant, for sure it won’t be quiet in the popular and cheap ones). I guess those foreigners have never been in Spain (or in Italy, or in Greece) because we are at least as noisy as Chinese people (and waiters in popular restaurants by the sea yell way louder than Chinese waiters!).
– Similar food
Chinese food is very different from Spanish food, but some common aspects can be found. In China you can eat 油条 for breakfast, and in Spain you can eat churros and porras. Porras pretty much look the same as 油条 and churros are thinner. But they all are basically fried dough. Chinese people enjoy their 油条 with soy milk and we like to dip our churros in hot chocolate.
And what about 小吃? I’d say the concept is the same as Spanish tapas: small portions of food so you can try a little bit of everything.
We also like eating al fresco and lots of restaurants have tables and chairs in the street. I haven’t seen this a lot in Suzhou, only in some restaurants catering to Western people, but in Beijing, especially during the summer, someone would appear with a cart, a grill and some skewers, and put small tables and stools by the side of the road or under a bridge… and wait for customers (and the scary 城管!) to appear.
– Crowded beaches
It seems every summer we see the same image of swimming pools and beaches in China: crowded, not even a small empty spot on the sand and there are so many people swimming that you can’t actually see the water. The place where I spend my holidays in Spain could actually be confused for a beach in China! It is just one hour away from one of Spain’s biggest (and hottest) cities so it is always full of people.
If you enjoyed this post you can also read Some differences between China and Spain, which I wrote a few months ago!