Don't listen to anything else you've heard—Barcelona is the best place to study abroad. It is such an amazing, beautiful city with so much to do. When it comes to food, you could seriously eat at a different restaurant every day and never go to the same one (which my friends and I pretty much did...oops). Before I got to Barcelona, all I really knew about the food was that they are known for tapas. I quickly learned that I had a lot to get used to after discovering these differences.  

1. Get Ready to Eat LATE

As someone who usually eats dinner around 6:30pm, this was the hardest for my stomach to get used to. Most dinner restaurants don't even open till 8:30pm, mainly because lunch is their main meal. People leave work and kids go home for a few hours during the day for their "siesta" to eat and nap. America, take notes, please.

2. Be Prepared to Be at the Restaurant for a Long Time

Meals in Barcelona are supposed to be leisurely and a time for you to enjoy your company. Speedy waiter service is actually considered rude. It's really nice to take in the experience, food, and company, but it is definitely something that takes getting used to.

3. You Have to Pay for Water

No matter where you go in Barcelona, there will never be water waiting for you at your table. Tap or bottled is not an option. If you want water, you're going to ask and you'll have to pay for a bottle. At least the wine is always cheaper than water

4. Ice Just Isn't a Thing

Don't like room temperature water? Too bad—get used it. Sure you can ask for ice, but the waiter is going to look at you like you're from another country. Oh, wait...

5. The Check Isn't Going to Be Brought to You When You're Done Eating

Continuing with the slow customer service theme, waiters won't bring you the check as soon as your plates are clean. They assume you are just enjoying conversation after the meal. So, if you are ready to pay, you need to explicitly ask for the check.

6. Tipping Doesn't Exist

Instead, many restaurants will include a "service charge" in the bill. The "service charge" is basically considered to be part of the overall meal. Locals don't tip, but if they had above and beyond service, they only tip very little.

7. Splitting the Bill is Nearly Impossible

Don't worry, my friends and I quickly figured out how to get around this. Waiters bring the credit card machine directly to your table so when you're with a group of friends, you just tell them the exact amount to put on each card.

8. Milkshakes Aren't Real Overseas

Trust me, you'll see “milkshake” listed on plenty of menus. And yes, you’ll order it every time expecting it to be made from ice cream. But SURPRISE! You’ll just be getting flavored milk. 

9. Say Goodbye to Late Night Eats

Restaurants open till 4am don't exist. But there are supermercados on nearly every street corner. These are basically Barcelona's version of 7/11. They have endless snacks and are open 24/7.

I learned a lot about Barcelona's culture just from eating out at restaurants. There are some things to get used to, but it is all worth it to become fully immersed in their slow-paced, relaxed lifestyle. Make sure to soak up the culture while enjoying some of the best food I've ever had!