February 1, 2014, by Guest blog

Napping in Spain…that’s a challenge

Post written by Madeleine Pitkin.

I’ve been in Spain for more than four months now and so I presume I’m as settled in as I ever will be. However, there are some cultural differences which continue to challenge me every day!

One first big cultural challenge is the siesta, or afternoon nap time. Between the hours of 2 and 5pm, most shops and businesses close so that the employees can have lunch and rest. Not everyone sleeps; most people I’ve asked don’t nap for more than an hour and others just put their feet up.

When doing some research before coming abroad, I was surprised to find that this siesta happens in the North of Spain as well as the rest of Spain, where the heat necessitates it, but I quite looked forward to the idea. However, despite trying every day for almost the first month of my being here, I haven’t been able to nap in the middle of the day.  Instead, this time has increasingly become my least favourite time of the day. It’s hard to fill the time because I can’t really relax or study, knowing that I have to stop to return to work later. I find leaving the house and walking down deserted shuttered streets quite unsettling – I almost expect some tumbleweed to roll down the road like in a cartoon! If ever an occasional bout of homesickness occurs, it occurs in the afternoon.

Another cultural issue I’ve had trouble adapting to is that Spain’s mealtimes are different to ours in Britain. For example, whereas many of us Brits might eat lunch at 12.30pm and dinner at 6pm, most of the Spaniards I’ve met don’t eat until 3pm and 9pm respectively. I’ve been forced to adapt to eating at these times due to my work timetable, but it’s been a struggle! For a while, I went from eating more meals that normal because I was ravenous at “English” lunchtime but also wanted to be sociable and eat with Spaniards, to skipping them entirely when I was past hungry. I still occasionally miss a meal when I’m too tired to cook a meal from scratch just before bed. I’m undecided as to whether the lack of availability of ready meals is a good thing or not!

Posted in Cultural challenges