February 5, 2014, by Guest blog

Even the dogs have siestas!

Post written by Faith Locken.

When choosing where to go for the first half of my year abroad, I purposefully picked Spain because I wanted somewhere that wouldn’t have so much of a cultural difference from England, especially as my second half would be in China. However as the last six months have proved, there have most definitely been some cultural challenges that I have faced.

I have lived in London all my life so I have always been accustomed to the busy, hustle and bustle lifestyle of the city, and for some reason assumed that all cities would be similar. The first thing I noticed in Seville was how much slower the pace of life was there; it was very difficult to adjust to. For example you could expect to be served extremely slowly in a restaurant even if you’re the only customer there. The pedestrians strolled along the streets as opposed to the brisk walk of us Londoners. At first I tried to fight it, but once I accepted the easy going pace of life, I found that I relaxed immediately.

Another major cultural challenge was getting used to their daily routine. As you may know the Spanish, particularly the southern regions, follow the siesta lifestyle. Traditionally, siestas were taken because it was too hot during the afternoon to do anything but rest, however this tradition continues even in the winter months. At first, being a sleep lover, I fully embraced this lifestyle, however after a while it became frustrating. During the siestas all the banks and the majority of the local amenities close, so if for example you find yourself in need of something urgently, you have to wait until 5pm when things open again. Unfortunately, I had many scenarios such as these which were most definitely frustrating, but forced me very quickly to learn the system and order my life around it. I soon became a pro at knowing what times certain places closed, if at all, and by the end of my stay I had no more problems with the siestas.

dogsThe last and final challenge I faced with the Spanish culture was their eating culture. In Spain they eat much more than we do in England, and meals are more of an event for the whole family to enjoy. A typical lunch with the family I lived with would be three courses, which may seem like a lot, but you have to bear in mind that they don’t eat dinner until at least 9pm. It was difficult at first to adjust to this food schedule, (I found I’d be starving once it got to dinner time), but once I knew how things worked, I adjusted accordingly by eating a small late afternoon snack to keep me going.


Even the dogs had siestas

In all, I think you should expect cultural challenges wherever you go in the world. You should be prepared to adhere to or at the very least respect the difference in culture that you may encounter whilst abroad.


Posted in Cultural challenges