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Some revelations after a 10 month internship in Bilbao: 4 things that perhaps you didn´t know about

From the outside, we often don’t realise the diversity of Spain in terms of its culture, climate and landscapes. If you live in Europe, you have probably been on holiday in Spain, or at least know somebody who has visited one of the popular coastal destinations such as Barcelona, Málaga or Valencia. Naturally, we are used to the idea of Spain being a country of sun, sea, sand and paella. This brief article, written by an English intern, aims to challenge and counterbalance this very inaccurate conception of one of the most diverse European countries.

Spanish culture is very multifaceted and difficult to define…

Before coming to Bilbao I thought Spain was a far more uniform country than it is. The provinces and autonomous communities of Spain vary notable with regard to architecture, gastronomy, accent, linguistic expressions, literature, customs and heritage. Every part of Spain has offered its own contribution to Spanish history and culture. In Cádiz, you´ll find monuments dedicated to the Spanish Constitution of 1812; in Vitoria there lies a statue that pays homage to the liberation of the Iberian Peninsula in the Napoleonic Wars; in Madrid you´ll come across the famous Museum del Prado, and you can enjoy the magnificent Parc Güell, designed by Antoni Gaudí. As a result of the diversity of Spanish culture, you could genuinely travel to all of the provinces and find something interesting and unique in each one.

In Spain, there are several languages…

99% of the Spanish population speaks Castilian Spanish as a first or second language, however, 4 other co-official languages also exist! Of course, in the Basque Country people speak Basque. Basque, Galician, Catalan and Aranese are also co-official languages in Spain. There are many other languages and dialects, for example Asturian, Leonese and Aragonese. In summary, many languages are alive today in Spain, each of which has its own history and charm.

In Spain, the climate differs a lot…

During my stay in Bilbao the climate has stayed very mild. Normally the temperature doesn’t drop below 6 degrees Celsius or exceed 20, with the exception of the summer. Even in the summer the average temperature is never higher than 21 degrees. Consequently, the North of Spain is popular with students who prefer a less extreme climate in which to work, study and live over a lengthier period of time. However, in Spain it does get particularly cold in certain places. In December I went to Vitoria-Gasteiz; when we had lunch it was -2 degrees! In fact, there are several popular skiing resorts in Spain, for example in Huesca and La Rioja.

Spanish cuisine is very diverse…

Naturally, the more coastal areas favour the inclusion of seafood and fish in their local cuisine. As you get closer to the centre of the country you find more and more meat dishes. Of course, the Spanish diet is always balanced, varied and based on local ingredients. Pintxos from the Basque Country (miniature dishes) are famous nationwide and beyond, as well as the paella in Valencia and Seville’s gazpacho. Fried fish in Andalusia is also very popular and in Galicia you´ll find some of the best seafood. Furthermore, the wine varies significantly across the country. Cider is abundant in the North; it is especially typical in Asturias.

To conclude, the Spain´s diversity makes it a truly fascinating and attractive country. I recommend visiting every region, from north to south, particularly the less internationally known parts. Without a doubt travelling around the country has been a great and revealing experience.

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