Just before your study abroad trip, we want to give you a quick insight into the local customs and Spanish ways!
While some customs you may know are just stereotypes, others are completely true and surely there are still many you haven’t heard of yet. Here are some useful habits to know to make sure you are ready for the Spanish culture.
The first thing you may notice is that personal space is significantly reduced when you are in Spain! Many foreigners are not used to this and it can make them feel uncomfortable at the beginning.
For example, Spanish people greet women by giving them two kisses (unless the context is extremely formal). So, if you’re a girl you will greet people with two kisses whereas, if you’re a guy, you will usually shake hands with men and give two kisses to women. This can be awkward in some situations so we give you a piece of advice: go to the left first!
The Spanish timetable differs from other European countries, especially meal times. They have breakfast first thing in the morning, like normal. Then, they have a second meal before lunch called “almuerzo”, which is normally eaten between 11am and 12pm. This means that they don’t usually eat lunch until 2-3pm, so if you’re looking to eat lunch at 12pm you may find they won’t be serving it yet!
As well as a late lunch they also have a late dinner, usually at 9-10pm. So, they have a snack or “merienda” during the late afternoon, around 5pm, between lunch and the evening meal.
This is useful to know as many shops, restaurants, businesses and banks will adapt their opening and closing times to fit this timetable (for example banks are usually only open between 8:30am and 2pm).
Last but not least, it’s advisable to keep in mind the different manners of different cultures. If you are ever in a cafe or restaurant, you’ll probably find that people talk very loud in Spain! It’s part of their way of life, they are loud and emotive and it’s not seen to be rude, just a part of their culture and expressing their enjoyment!
What’s more, the sense of punctuality in Spain might not be as strict as you are used to back home. Again, we give you some advice: allow for 5 minutes of courtesy… or even 10!
With these few things in mind, it’s important to say that the Spanish culture as a whole is very open and people are approachable, so when it comes to asking for help or connecting with people, this won’t be a problem in Spain. You are sure to love the Spanish culture and to learn from their relaxed, laid back and open lifestyle.
Find out more about living in Spain and opportunities in Valencia, right here!