Don’t forget your units.


So … I landed, and slept.

Waking up I decided to try to get some things done.  I wander out of the hotel, still halfway in a daze and start walking around.  Everything felt pretty alien – the signs were in another language, I couldn’t find any street signs, the cars were completely foreign, even the signals on the stoplights looked different.  Now, Im coming from a suburban environment in the US with huge, well lit roads and lots of space (and distance) around you so it was even more shocking to come to a major “world city” where you can walk almost anywhere.

I think out of the things I saw the cars were the most surprising.  I knew that Europe had lots of different types of cars than the US, I just never expected it to be such a dramatic shift.  I’d say that 95 percent of the “coches” here are different than what we have in the US (almost universally smaller versions).  And for some reason they are almost all newer models (I should research that – I am guessing they must have some way of encouraging only newer cars?).  Fiats, Alfas, Seats, Skodas, Smart cars all over the place (and in different varieties – a larger one and a pretty wild looking roadster).  And even the Fords are different cars – Fiestas and Mondeos for example.  I’m not sure I’ve seen a GM here, although I may have seen a Chrysler 300 at one point?  And the scooters are all over the place – some of them look pretty cool but they make a pretty annoying noise when you are trying to sleep 🙂

Another struggle I had almost immediately was units.  Now I spent a lot of time in college learning and using metric, but its still a shock to use it in your day to day life.  How hot is it?  What do I weigh?  How tall am I?  Sure, you can do the conversions for temperature (C = (F – 32) * 5/9), weight (Kg = lbs / 2.2), and height (1 inch = 2.54 cm), but that isn’t the easiest thing to do off the top of your head.  Spanish isn’t the only language I need to brush up on while Im in Madrid!

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