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Living in Spain: Culture Shocks and Pleasant Surprises

10 things you need to know about living in Spain

You are flirting with the idea of moving to Spain or maybe have already decided on it and packed your bags? Then this is the place to look for advice! We have put together a list of things that might help you adjust to the Spanish culture and way of life. Here are 10 things you need to know about living in Spain:

1 People in Spain love warm welcomes: Whenever you meet someone or make a new acquaintance, don’t be surprised to see them approaching your face with puckered lips. The typical Spanish salutation is a kiss on each cheek.

2 Clocks in Spain tick differently: Living in Spain means adjusting your daily routine to a delayed timetable compared to many other cultures. Start working at 10 am, have an extensive lunch at 3 pm and dinner at 9 – the earliest! Then don’t be surprised if your Spanish friends ask you to go out for a drink at 11 pm on a weekday, it’s not bedtime yet!

3 Cherish the siesta: Another helpful tip when it comes to planning your day in Spain is to pay attention to their lunchtime. Don’t try to go shopping between 2 and 5 pm. Or to be more precise: Don’t try to do anything in these hours, except for enjoying your siesta with good food, friends and family or a decent nap. Fruterías, boutiques, museums – pretty much everything is closed during these hours.

4 Speaking of Fruterías: While living in Spain, you will notice that groceries are decently priced in most supermarkets. Due to the favorable climate in Spain, you can find loads of fresh fruit and vegetables for low prices, which you can even hand-pick in one of the many small fruit shops around the corner.

5 Slow food is good food: You won’t find a lot of fast food restaurants in Spain except for the well-known giants in some of the bigger cities. Eating a meal is a lengthy process for the Spanish that needs to be enjoyed and celebrated properly.

6 Living the tapas life: Yes, food is one of the most important facets in Spanish culture and we’re still not done with tips surrounding this topic. However, this aspect you will certainly enjoy about living in Spain: Whenever you find yourself ordering a wine or beer in a Spanish bar, be excited for the tapas! Potato chips, olives or other small snacks are usually served together with your drink – fully included in its price.

7 La familia is everything: Family gatherings, reunions, dinners, picnics, … what would Spanish people do without their beloved ones?! Of course, even the kids grow up experiencing the full on Spanish lifestyle. It’s quite normal to see them with their entire families at restaurants until late at night, maybe even surrounded by people consuming alcohol or cigarettes – but don’t worry, they are allowed in and welcomed with open arms.

8 Speaking Spanish is key: In case you don’t already know the language, you’ll learn it while living in Spain. If you are lucky enough, you will find a few younger people who are able to help you with some bits of English. But whenever you need something from an authority or when ordering something at an authentic restaurant, finding someone who speaks English can get really difficult. Spanish people love their language more than any other, and they love speaking fast – so listen closely!

9 Take it easy: If the Spanish lifestyle would have to be described with two words, those would probably be “enjoyment” and “tranquility”. The pace of everything and everyone living in Spain is a little more slowly, words like “rush” and “stress” barely come to your mind, once you have adjusted to the fact that punctuality is not one of the culture’s key attributes. The Spanish are said to live comparably long – maybe that’s one of the reasons why!

10 Lastly, but most importantly: Living in Spain is the pura vida 🙂

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