Now you’ve finally made your decision on moving to Spain, and you already have your accommodation option sorted out. Then, you start wondering how living in Spain will be. Spanish culture is very different from all others, and you will see this in everyday life details. Here are my tips for living in Spain, so that your adjustment to the culture goes smoothly.
1. Expect Lots of Talking and Noise
The Spanish are loud and talkative. All the time. Any time of the day. Any day of the week. Anywhere they are. Spaniards laugh very loudly, make gestures with their hands, and put on very flashy expressions when they are telling a story. Prepare yourself in advance so that you will not be caught unawares.
2. Consider the Altitude
This may affect you depending on where you are coming from. In my case, I came from a sea city but in Spain, but now I am close to the mountains in Madrid. Therefore, when I started living in Spain, I needed a month of acclimatising to the altitude and thin air.
3. Siestas Are a Lie, and the Truth…
is that few people actually nap at siesta time, except in summer and in the South. However, shops and other small businesses do close from 2 pm to 4 pm. Generally, it is the time people go home to eat and spend time with their families before heading back to work around 4 pm or 5 pm. Then, they stay there until 8 pm or 9 pm. The bigger shops remain open, although they are usually empty because the customers are at home.
Check out this post on the Spanish timetable, weekly schedule and social life will give you more information.
4. Accept the Touching and Looking
Greeting works differently in different countries. In Spain, kissing people on both cheeks is normal, and expected. Keep this in mind and don’t be surprised when a friendly Spaniard greets you with two kisses. Also, people making eye contact or looking at you for an extended period of time is normal.
At least, to a large degree. Do not kiss people at school. Professional etiquette is different from social etiquette. In a professional context, it is advisable to greet people with a nod of the head or a handshake. We leave the two kisses for the street and bars, family situations, or with friends.
5. Be Prepared for Cigarette Smoke
This is possibly the hardest thing for me. My home country has strict laws on smoking, especially in public spaces. Possibly because I live in a smaller village, rules are more relaxed than in other parts of the city or country for that matter. But be prepared for cigarette smoke at bus stops, and in the seating area outside restaurants and cafés.
6. Check of Banks Opening Hours
All banks aren’t open on the weekend and most banks close at 2 pm during the week. Some have extended banking hours for certain months of the year, but this is not the general case. Keep this in mind in case you need to go to a bank and check your bank’s specific schedule.
These are just some of the aspects that I’ve noticed about Spanish daily life that is different from that of my country. At first, they caught my attention, and some of them I even disliked, but over time I have come to love them. It is these differences that make living in another culture, and particularly living in Spain, enriching. I hope that with these 6 tips for living in Spain, your adjustment to Spanish culture will be easier!
By Noélle K., 2019-2020