5 Biggest Cultural Differences in Spain: A Study Abroad Experience
Studying abroad in Spain is a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in a rich and diverse culture. While you’re there to enhance your language skills, you’ll also encounter some intriguing cultural differences. These differences can be both exciting and challenging, but they’ll certainly contribute to a memorable experience. In this blog, we’ll explore the top 5 biggest cultural differences that study abroad students in Spain often encounter.
Greeting with «Besitos»
One of the first things you’ll notice in Spain is the unique way people greet each other with «besitos» or little kisses. This entails a gentle cheek-to-cheek touch while making the kissing sound. While it might initially feel strange, it’s an essential part of Spanish greetings. Men typically don’t give «besitos» to other men unless they are close friends or family.
Advice: Embrace this custom, and don’t hesitate when meeting someone. It becomes natural over time, and it’s better to go with the flow than overthink it.
The meal schedule in Spain is notably different from what you might be accustomed to. Breakfast is light, usually consisting of coffee and toast, and can vary between 8 and 10 am. Lunch is the most substantial meal but is typically served around 3 pm. Dinner is much later, around 10 or 10:30 pm.
Advice: Be prepared to adjust your eating habits, and don’t be surprised if you feel like you’re going to starve between lunch and dinner. Take the opportunity to savor the delicious Spanish cuisine.
Siesta, which translates to «nap,» is an integral part of Spanish culture. It takes place after lunch (around 5 pm to 7:30 pm) and is a time for relaxation, family visits, or catching up with friends. Some stores might close during siesta hours but reopen later in the evening.
Advice: Respect this downtime and avoid disturbing others who might be napping. Use this time to relax and recharge for the rest of the day.
Punctuality is not as crucial in Spain as it is in some other cultures. Spaniards are often fashionably late, so expect delays of at least 7 minutes when meeting someone.
Advice: It’s a good idea to adjust your expectations when organizing plans outside of your study program. While Centro MundoLengua operates punctually, personal meetings might involve some waiting.
Taking Your Time
Spaniards are known for enjoying leisurely moments, whether it’s a coffee with friends, a family dinner, or simply catching up with someone. They prefer not to rush through organized plans and value the time spent with loved ones.
Advice: Embrace the Spanish way of savoring life and spending quality time with friends and family. Engage in meaningful conversations, and don’t rush through meals with your host family.
Studying abroad in Spain offers a unique opportunity to learn about a different culture, enhance your language skills, and grow as an individual. The cultural differences you encounter can be both challenging and rewarding. By understanding and embracing these differences, you’ll make the most of your stay and create lasting memories in this beautiful country. So, be prepared, open-minded, and ready to experience the richness of Spanish culture.