5 Biggest Culture Shocks When Traveling To Spain

Bienvenidos – Welcome to Spain!  Get ready for major culture shock.  Nothing seems normal, but at least the tapas are free, right?

1. Mealtimes Are Completely Wrong.

Breakfast here isn’t even worthy of the name breakfast.  Half a croissant and coffee with milk leave me with daydreams of scrambled eggs.  I have to keep this particular yearning to myself because in Spain eggs are meant for any meal except breakfast.  The Spanish tortilla – basically a potato and egg omelette – is delicious and by some illogical fallacy is considered appropriate for all times of day excluding the morning.  SMH.


Lunch won’t happen until at least 2:30pm when you’ll enjoy a large meal that will likely include wine or beer.  This will inevitably make you sleepy.  Thank God for siestas!  Though you’ll have trouble keeping your eyes open at the table, everyone will continue to sit around long after the food has been eaten to talk and spend time together.  Try your best to contribute to the converstaion and look engaged.

10pm is a bit on the early side for dinner so you may need to go for tapas before.  (I mean, if I have to…. ) Considering you gorged yourself at lunch after starving from breakfast, the third meal of the day is very light.  Eating this way feels a bit like a forced introduction to intermittent fasting.


2. Siestas Are A Necessity, Not A Luxury.

After your large midday meal, the siesta is completely necessary and culturally expected.  As such, businesses all close in the middle of the day so the owners can go home to eat and rest.  Can you imagine if it was normal to take over TWO HOURS in the middle of a WORK DAY to lunch and nap?!  I don’t even want to know what would happen if I pulled that kind of stunt at my job in NYC.


But you’re now in a parallel universe where this is, in fact, normal.  Good luck finding anything open between the hours of 2 and 5 in the afternoon!  You’ll probably be asleep though.


3.  The Fiesta Never Ends.

There’s always, I repeat always, something going on here.  It could be a Monday and there would still be people out and about until the early morn.  The Spanish take full advantage of any excuse to party – not that they need one!


While casual drinking is acceptable all day, the true nightlife doesn’t really get started until around 2am.  I’ve left clubs and discotecas around 4am and I was one of the first to leave!  Not only was I heading home early, but people were arriving to the venue at that time.  I swear the Spanish body clock operates differently.  As for you, learn to love the siesta.


4. Families do everything together.

The tight knit nature of family life in Spain means that they are always together.  Even when children are very young, they join their parents and their friends out at the barres.  No one blinks an eye at babies seated on their parents lap at the table even when it’s after 10:30pm.  Maybe we’re overprotective of our children in the U.S. of A. but this seems like the opposite extreme.


Children or rather adult offspring often continue to live with their parents through university and beyond.  If they don’t marry right away, it’s not unheard of to have a 30-year-old still living at home.  Love you Mom & Dad, but no.  Just no.

5. Spaniards are sexier than you will ever be.

The people are beautiful and fashionable with killer confidence.  Red lipstick is more normal than not and shopping seems to be the sport of choice.  Don’t even get me started on the paradise that is Zara. Try not to feel like a wallflower next to these super humans.  Get yourself some trendy and tight-fitting clothes (yes men, you too!) and you’re a step in the right direction.


You’ll get stared at anyway, but take it in stride.  God bless you if you’re blonde though – you’ll get a lot of attention simply because you’re a novelty.  If shopping is the sport of choice, people watching is the national pastime.  The upside of the normalcy of blatant staring is that you won’t be creepy when checking out the Spanish people in all their glory.


What surprised you the most when you visited Spain?

Biggest Culture Shocks when you visit Spain for the first time --> http://clairemariecarter.com/5-biggest-culture-shocks-traveling-spain/

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