February 4, 2014, by Guest blog

The biggest cultural challenge – time!

Post written by Hannah Sheehan.

Since living in Spain for five months a number of cultural challenges and issues have come to my attention. Spain and England are too very different countries and possess two very different cultures. To date it has been difficult at times to adjust to the Spanish way of life and the demeanour of Spanish people. It has proved to be a challenge but one nonetheless I have taken with both hands.

A very significant cultural challenge and one very personal to me is the issue of time. During my time on my work placement I have noticed that the Spanish are renowned for turning up late to meetings, arriving late in the morning or occasionally not turning up to work without so much as an acknowledgment and also emailing at all hours. The routine here in Spain is very different and everything is done at a very relaxed pace. This has occasionally become a problem during my time working as I have been asked to come down to the office and be expected to have a meeting and been made to wait for a while.

Another cultural challenge that I have come across is occasionally coming into contact with the abrupt nature of Spanish people. I think this at times have been difficult for me to deal with as English as renowned for being very sympathetic and empathetic and deal with situations in a rational manner.

The Spanish lifestyle is very laidback in comparison to that of England. For Example work colleagues are very laidback and have no issue with you taking as many coffee breaks as you like. Dress attire at work is very casual and most importantly I do not share a contract with my landlord for my flat.

In restaurants the process is very different. The majority of eating places do not open until late as Spanish people eat from 9pm onwards. What has proved to be a real challenge and that I have noticed is that waiters tend to serve locals first and are far more attentative to them than to foreigners.

Afternoons in Spain are pretty much non-existent. Fortunately I live in the city and so there are still places open but whilst travelling I have notice that places do close in the afternoon as it is siesta time and this can be difficult at times because the afternoon is when you wish to get things done.

The idea of eating Tapas on a regular basis was a cultural issue that was difficult to get my head around. Being so sued to eating a big meal at dinner time and a smaller meal for lunch meant that it was difficult to adjust to the Spanish eating ways. Nonetheless I have very much enjoyed sampling and experiencing this way of life.

It is evident that we live in two very different cultures. Even though at times it has been increasingly difficult for me to adjust to a new way of life, it has been thrilling and exciting to be able to experience it.

Posted in Cultural challenges