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International evening "Meet the world": Spain 11.12.2013

The last event of the year took place on Wednesday, 11th of December and as usual at Genialistide Klubi. This time there were three guest speakers – Spain was represented by Jorge González Fernández and José Inestal Hernandez and Estonia by Nele Laos. Jorge is a Semiotics student at the University of Tartu and José and Nele are a couple that has been living since 2012 in Viljandi, where Nele is studying Culture Management and José is a Philosophy and Spanish teacher.


At first, Jorge pointed out some differences that he has noticed between Estonians  and Spanish and summarized that the two countries are very different. According to him in Spain logic and rationality are less important than emotions  and he also could see some difference in values (e.g. Spanish do not put so much value on the job someone has). He said that, although, Spanish are very patriotic abroad, in Spain people are not comfortable with it, because it is considered Right-wing. Unless football is on, but even that is quite a recent development.


Jorge gave an overview of Spanish traditions. He went over the importance of religion in Spain, though even in there religion is slowly losing its role and talked about some famous religious places (e.g. pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela). He also explained about the old tradition bullfighting and said that the majority do not support it, but for the ones who like it, it is considered to be a form of art and about 100 years ago its popularity was comparable to the popularity of football nowadays. Still, there is controversy surrounding it and, for example, in Catalonia it is forbidden. He explained some other traditions too, like Botellón, which is basically drinking on the streets and Nele pointed out that for her it was fun to see that even though it was minus degrees outside and people were shivering, they still had their drinks with ice. There is also Tomatina – the battle with tomatoes and Las Fallas, where statues depicting famous people or events are made from paper and then after one week they are burnt.


Nele went to Spain in October 2011, when she went with the European Voluntary Service to a city near Madrid, where she worked in a youth  house for nine months. Although, she had some knowledge of Spanish through soap operas, she really did not speak the language and discovered that Spanish overcame that problem by just speaking louder and louder with her and using body language. She also disproved the notion that because Spanish take a siesta, they can be considered lazy. The work day lasts usually from 9–21 and siesta from 15–17 p.m. She said that at first it was hard to get used to the siesta, because by the time she got really into work, it was already time to take a break. But she also admitted that this system makes you feel like get more time, like double day.


José talked about his experience in Estonia. He said that he used to find it strange that in Spain Nele always pointed out that the sky is blue, but he said that now in Estonia he understands why it was extraordinary and admitted that he can deal with the cold, but he is really missing the sun. Last winter he even tried to get up earlier in the morning to see some light. He has also found out that most communication happens in the saunas – people may otherwise completely ignore you, but when you are together in sauna, Estonians open up and start to make a conversation. He has learned when it is okay to hug people (in Spain he would hug someone after they have met for the first time and spent some time talking) and admitted that at first he felt that he was hated by Estonians, when he met people he was aqcuainted with and they very minimally answered to his joyous greeting. On the other hand, he has learned to love Estonian porridge in the mornings, even though people do not usually eat breakfast in Spain (just something to drink and something sweet), lunch is also eaten later in Spain than is usual in the Europe (at 2–3  o’clock) and dinner is as late as 9–11  o’clock and eating dinner quite late is something that Nele and José still do in Estonia.


The evening was finished with a performance by Jorge, who played a couple of Flamenco songs on his guitar.