To Party or Not to Party
Before or at least upon arriving, you have probably been warned that Spaniards can go pretty hard when it comes to partying and I will not mislead you by saying otherwise. Still, it is important to recognize that an entire nationality cannot be generalized by one standard and―even if many do fall into that stereotype―it is 100% okay if you don’t want to totally immerse yourself in that culture! Actually, I’m going to recommend that you don’t and I will tell you why…
In a culture in which dinner doesn’t finish until 11pm or midnight, it is no shock that partying also continues well into the morning. If you wanna go all-out Spanish style, you can easily find yourself dancing till 6am and eating churros con chocolate with your drunk friends as the sun comes up. This is great fun and, arguably, an experience that everyone should live once. It is, however, NOT the experience to live if you fall into following category: people who don’t want to.
Yep, it’s truly as simple as that. If the thought of not going to bed until 8am and sleeping the next day away really bothers you or you have no desire to try out this aspect of Spanish living for whatever other reason, don’t do it! There is no shame in passing. It’s taken me a long time to reach this realization but I want to share it with you now, at the beginning of your journey, in hopes that you won’t spend as many nights in contemplation of what you “should do” rather than moving forward with what you WANT to do with all of your ganas.
Here’s the secret I’ve learned over the years—you aren’t gonna regret the same things as the next person. I had a Spanish friend once tell me that I’m gonna look back on these years of not going out till all hours of the night on a regular basis and regret them. She thinks that one day I’m gonna wake up and regret the fact that I didn’t 'live' these years while I had the chance.
For awhile, I feared she was right. I took time to ponder my choices to stay in or to go out for tapas and drinks, only to come home by 12 or 1am. I wondered if I WAS missing out on something important. Then I realized I’m not! For her, those nights are missed opportunities because that kind of entertainment and late-nights spent with friends mean the most. For me, however, the missed opportunities are when I sleep in until 2pm the next day because I stayed out so late. I regret the Sundays in which I can’t wander the streets in the sunshine and enjoy a few tintos de verano at a plaza midday.
The only surefire way to regret less is to acknowledge what it is you value and make decisions in alignment with that. If your happiest moments and best memories happen late at night with a copa in hand, then by all means—embrace the Spanish party scene; it was made for you! But if your true joy comes from laying out in the morning sun with a book in your hand then don’t feel any remorse about passing up a late night. You know yourself best—don’t let anyone else tell you that you’re 'wasting' your study abroad experience if you don’t party till the morning hours.
All of that being said, I am an advocate of ‘try everything once.’ If you are curious, give the all-night-dance-party a go! You may be surprised by how much fun it is and love how you get swept up in the typical dance music. And even if your first outing leaves a little to be desired, don’t be afraid to give it another go later on if you have Spanish friends who invite you (trust me, it will be a totally different experience)!
My advice is to stay open to the possibilities, but always listen to your inner voice for the final decision. Partying is meant to be fun, so if it’s really not gonna bring you any happiness, pass it up! There are plenty of other ways to fill those evening hours—and the ones you’ll have in the morning as a result. Also, there are PLENTY of people (Spanish and foreign alike) who share your outlook if you chose to forego this tradition.
However, if you are absolutely drawn to a society where dancing and drinking until the morning is acceptable, take heart! You’ve found your home. Whichever way your compass points, you’re in one of the greatest countries for enjoying yourself so do your thing, chico!