Living in Spain: the calculator in my head
So. This shouldn't surprise you, but, you know, living abroad isn't all pretty vistas and late-night moto rides. Adjusting to the rhythms of life in a different country is hard work at times - it's disorienting, and kind of exhausting. Especially if math isn't your thing. What? Yeah, I said it. Math.
For whatever reason, Americans are kind of odd birds when it comes to standards of measurement. We just operate on different systems than anywhere else. Personally, I blame the Brits, who bequeathed it to us and then quietly switched over to the world standards, snickering behind their tea-stained fingers. Their genteel revenge, if you will, for the whole Boston tea party incident.
Check it out. Here are some mind puzzles that are all in an day's work:
- Celsius. Geez, we are really the only misfits in the world who use Fahrenheit apparently. Le sigh. The conversion is near impossible for anyone with a sub-Einsteinian grasp of numbers (something about multiplying by 9/5ths?), so I have to learn the old-fashioned way: going out and taking a walk. I don't know the conversion at all, but at this point I've learned the hard way that 28 degrees is too hot to wear a coat and I will end up carrying it all day, 19 degrees is lovely unless windy, and 11 degrees and raining is downright freezing.
- The Metric system. It's sort of similar to the one listed above, but it's a whole separate pain in the keister, so I'm listing it on its own. Kilometers, litres, milligrams, schmillograms. Oh, and you say you like to bake? Good luck trying to convert recipes!
- Euros. This one is the easiest of the bunch, but nonetheless it's different. Conversions are more by feel than actual math, but the real problem is that the Europeans are really big on coins, and they have 1 and 2 euro coins as well as smatterings of littler ones. I got 6 euros of change the other day, about 8 bucks worth, all in coins. Ugh. Bottom line: double reinforce your pockets, because you get an extra couple pounds of metal to carry with you everywhere.
- 24-hour time clock. Meeting at 13:30. Restaurants open for dinner at 20:30. Figure it out quick or you'll look a little slow. What we call "military time" Europeans call "regular, standard, non-confusing time" and I suppose they are right, but still, a little different.
- A4. Oh, you made something on your computer that you're trying to print on a European printer? You and your cute little 8.5 x 11 inch paper. Inches. So adorable. You're either going to have a lot of white space, or you're going to have to do the metric conversion and use world standard (minus the US) A4-sized paper, which is a little longer.
I'm pretty sure I just heard a math teacher somewhere.
Boy meets girl. Girl goes to Spain. Boy comes too. Hilarity ensues. Love & Paella