February 4, 2014, by Guest blog

Adapting to traditional Spanish meal times

Soon after I arrived in Granada, Spain I slowly found myself being struck with some of the differences between my life back home in England to this new Spanish lifestyle I was about to experience. Before I came here I knew about the more obvious differences such as with the meal times and that the Spanish generally dine a lot later than the English. The other thing which I had always heard people talk about with regards to Spain was how relaxed and laid back the lifestyle is in comparison to England so I was eager to find how these cultural differences amongst others would affect me and how much the latter was a reality.

In terms of meal times I did find that this took some time for me to adapt (although I would say that at times I do eat quite late even in England). However when I had classes as early as 8.30am at the University I found myself getting quite hungry at the traditional British lunch hour around 12-1pm. On a few occasions I went to the cafeteria to eat a tortilla de patatas which was embarrassing as either the whole place was empty or people would only be having light mid-morning snacks such as café con leche y tostada! The majority of students didn’t arrive until 2.30pm to eat lunch and at that point there were so many people that there was no room to sit! However as time has progressed I have become more accustomed to this new horario and now I do generally eat at the traditional Spanish meal times but it did prove a bit difficult in the beginning.

With regards to the lifestyle I did find that many people liked to take the ‘mañana’ approach and this didn’t seem like such a bad idea as people appear quite relaxed which I really enjoyed because back home I would feel quite guilty for procrastinating. However the laid back lifestyle also meant that at times it would prove very difficult when wanting to do something quick or efficiently which was evident with the process of enrolment at the University! The other main difference I came across whilst living here is all the religious festive days which are celebrated and far from being a challenge, this was a really interesting way to experience the culture. Especially during the Christmas and New Years’ period the whole city was transformed as lights and decorations showing the nativity scene were put up. Whilst just before el Día de los Reyes Magos there was music and parades across the city which felt like a large scale street party. Overall I feel that the cultural differences, whilst some of them being initially tricky to adapt to have helped me to better understand the lifestyle which is something the Year Abroad experience intends to do.

Posted in Cultural challenges