If you are planning to move to Spain, or already have, you may already be familiar with some of the cultural norms of this beautiful and fascinating country. There are some habits that you will grow accustomed to and perhaps even take on yourself. We’ve made a list of a few of the things that may happen if you decide to settle in Spain.
1. You’ll start running on “Spanish time”
The Spanish are notorious for taking their time. Their relaxed attitude commonly clashes with strict schedules of any kind. For those who have moved to Spain from a rigid and deadline oriented country like Germany or the US, it can be quite frustrating. After a couple of months, however, you’ll find yourself adjusting your own schedule. If someone in Spain asks you to meet them at 9, it’s more like “around 9”. If you moved here in search of a change of lifestyle, embrace it – it’s part of the country’s charm.
2. You’ll meet some friends for life
Whether you’re studying for just a semester abroad or have settled in for a while, when you move to Spain, you will meet new people everywhere. Will all of those people become your best friends? Probably not. However, there will absolutely be one or two (if you’re lucky, a few or even a group!) that you will click with. If they’re expats like you it’s likely you will bond over the cultural differences between your home country and Spain. If you’re from different cultures, you’ll marvel at the incredible stories and lessons learned from each other.
3. Walking somewhere more than 20 minutes will be considered “far”
In most of the bigger cities in Spain, the transportation systems can be quite developed, making it relatively easy and quick to get around. In a city like Barcelona where the centre is very walkable, it’s easy to get used to the short distances and become “too lazy” to go to a different part of town, even if you were used to a much longer commute at home.
4. You will notice the budding of a new Spanish personality
This doesn’t mean that you will become “like a Spaniard”. This means that because you’ve relocated to a new country, made new friendships, adjusted to a new way of life, your character may also change. Maybe you’ll pick up a new hobby or nickname, or become an awesome cook. Learning Spanish may also change the way you communicate overall.
5. You will come overprepared to every bureaucratic appointment
Someone who has applied and succeeded in acquiring a NIE will remember all the difficult steps they had to take. Spanish requirements may vary from office to office and there are countless stories of people who are always missing this paper or that copy of one document. Once it’s happened to you, it will never happen again!
6. You’ll get used to the (lack of) customer service
In some countries, it’s expected that when you walk into a store or restaurant people rush up to you and try to help you immediately. As anyone who moves to Spain will tell you, it’s quite the opposite here. As stated before, the Spanish are relaxed, which also means the way in which they like to shop and go out to eat is more tranquilo. They’re not trying to be rude, they actually want to give you your own space. If you really need something, you may need to go and ask.
7. You’ll start speaking Spanglish
Part of the charm of moving to Spain is learning Spanish. Learning a new language can be difficult, but when you’re living in the country where you hear it everywhere around you – on the streets, in the shops, in the cafe – you’ll start to pick things up here and there. There are just some words in Spanish that don’t exist in English, Swedish, French, German etc. You’ll find yourself inevitably throwing in a Spanish palabrita or two into the sentences of your native language. And if you don’t speak Spanish, check out our Spanish courses to study with us in Barcelona!
8. Leaving the house at midnight on a Friday night will be normal
As most people around the world are preparing to go to bed around the 11pm mark, people in Spain are just getting their dancing shoes on. Even if you tried to get into a disco around 11:30, most won’t even be open yet. When heading back to your hometown for a visit, you may find yourself astounded that people want to meet at 7pm for a drink… En serio?
9. You will become annoyed by tourists
With 82 million tourists visiting just last year, Spain is set to be the second most popular tourist spot after France. If you’ve been living here awhile, you may have noticed the increase and can expect to see even more tourists in the coming year. The visitors have a way of getting in your way when you have somewhere to be and it can get frustrating, but then again, most of us started as tourists before we fell in love and decided to move to Spain!
These are just a few things we’ve experienced after a few years of moving to Spain. They may not be true for everyone! Did we miss any? Do you completely disagree with a particular one? Let us know what you think!