February 3, 2014, by Guest blog

Enjoying adapting to Spanish culture

When people ask me about the cultural differences between the UK and Spain I find it hard to pin point a lot of things but the timing of a normal working day is certainly one of the most noticeable differences! I found myself getting a bit lost in terms of when was suitable to eat lunch and then dinner many hours later! Something that has changed my whole attitude towards the structure of a day is the fact that the shops are only open until 2pm which is when everything shuts and everyone goes to have lunch – so it is important to get all your errands done before that time! It is also very noticeable, especially in Cádiz where the lifestyle is a lot more laid back, the time breakfast is eaten as many people will sit in cafes eating ‘tostada y tomate’ (toast and tomato) at 10am onwards as I would be walking to lectures which shifts the whole timetable forward a few hours. Having said this I haven’t found it a huge cultural challenge as I got used to eating lunch at 2pm onwards and not being hungry until about 10pm!

Despite the siesta time and lack of activity until 6pm on the street I quickly got used to this lifestyle and began to appreciate the later, more laidback lifestyle. However, the generally laidback attitude is especially noticeable when it spreads to the bank environment as well. Although I did not set up a bank account whilst in Spain a couple of my friends did and I had the opportunity of experiencing some rather frustrating and delayed processes within the bank. Unfortunately the priorities were a little different and there was a particularly excessive amount of papers and documents necessary for the process of setting up an account. Although, these things have just taught us British some patience and made us look at timings from a different perspective. I have noticed the effect of an unfair economy and work situation as the speed and nature of the work place in general is due to some unfair realities. It is important to take into account the context of a country and how the culture is affected by the government for example. All in all I enjoyed adapting to the culture in Spain and would not say that I faced any particularly difficult challenges.

Posted in Cultural challenges