On Poetry and Culture Shock

Where is Spain?

When I was getting ready to come to Cornell, I believed one of the most established Spanish stereotypes about Americans: they cannot put any other country in the world on a map (well, to be fair they can place Canada and Mexico) and they think Spain is a Third World country, probably in South America.

Ithaca and Cornell aren’t representative because everyone is highly educated, but I’m glad to tell Spanish readers the following:

-Everyone knows where Spain is. At least they are certain that it is in Europe.

-No one thinks Spain is a Third World country but they often assume that it is very, very conservative from their knowledge of Catholic countries.

Everyone in Spain knows a friend of a friend who had to explain that Spain is not to the south of Mexico, so I thought you’d like to know that is a bit exaggerated. What is true is that nearly everyone I have met had the assumption that Spain is a deeply Catholic country. Spain is a culturally catholic country, but hardly anyone at all goes to church, or believes in anything beyond a vague idea of God. Hardly no one takes reliion seriously. Many Americans are surprised when they find out that things like contraceptives and divorce are legal in Spain!

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