I never thought the Scottish and the Spanish had much in common. Maybe blood sausages and a fondness for sports, but even that was a stretch. Nevertheless, the past week has been filled with conversations about Scottish independence and the potential influence on the issue of Cataluña in Spain.
To be fair, they warned us before we met our homestay mothers, “There are three things you shouldn't talk about: religion, politics, or football.” However, after only two weeks, religion had already come up a few times. The second topic of politics arose naturally over paella on Thursday afternoon, the day of the referendum. Reports about the upcoming vote in Scotland, or Escocia, were continuously broadcast on the television or radio every night that week, but I tried to tread lightly in conversation. The Scottish referendum was watched and reported on in great detail in Spain due to the notable influence on the possibility for Catalonian independence, and it seemed like everyone had an opinion in Madrid.
As Pilar, my host mom, took her time ornately preparing the salad and paella, since lunch is a multi-course meal here, the radio played various interviews of opinionated individuals in Cataluña and their view of “Escothia,” as they said in their Spanish accents. After we sat down and I complimented her on her renowned paella, she asked my about my morning classes. I delicately referenced my Political Science class and the debate we had about Scottish Independence. My professor was an expert on the Cataluña case, but I didn't know which side she supported so I spent some time in class trying to gauge her reactions.
She smiled and explained the complexity of the topic, particularly because it seems like everyone has a connection to Cataluña. She also avowed that everyone in Spain had an opinion because the Spanish are equally passionate and stubborn. She assured that we would all learn the next weekend especially on our program excursion to Barcelona. I nodded in response and referenced the lack of similar independence movements within the United States and she agreed. She looked up from her paella, smirked, and said in Spanish, “Seems like your country is better in both politics and football, hmm?”