Growing up in a Latin based culture, could sound like a cliche – especially for people who live outside Europe. But even though having a quite strong Latin lifestyle background, I had some surprises when I visited Spain. Our lifestyles are very similar, so I didn’t encounter too many culture shocks as people outside Europe would do. But here are some things to know about Spain and its culture before visiting it.
Related: How to Deal With Cultural Shock
Things to Know About Spain Before Visiting It
1. Greetings with a hug and cheek kisses
Spanish people are very affectionate people. If you met someone like 2 seconds ago, you’re eligible for a big hug and cheek kisses. Most of us are used to shake hands when we meet someone new, but this does not apply to Spanish culture. They will not shake hands, they will hug and kiss you every single time they see you.
I’m not a hugging person. I mean, I don’t feel comfortable hugging strangers. It was definitely an experience that put me out of my comfort zone.
2. They don’t speak English
You would think that a Western European country will have English wrapped around its little finger. Well, that does not apply to Spain. And just for the record, Romanians speak better and lots of English compared to Spanish people.
I don’t know why they refuse to learn English, to be honest. I found it quite difficult to communicate with the Barajas airport (which is the largest international airport in the country) staff when I wasn’t able to find my luggage. Fortunately for me, I do speak some Spanish and I managed to find my luggage, eventually. You won’t find English speakers in public institutions so don’t have too big hopes for locals as well.
So, don’t rely on your fabulous English skills, because Spanish people are not impressed. They translate everything into Spanish: including dubbing movies in theaters – why would you do that?! So brace yourself and put some effort to learn some Spanish, or even buy a conversation guide as well.
3. Shops are closed in the middle of the day
They have this weird working schedule, when most of the shops, restaurants and institutions are closed from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. During this hours they don’t work with the public, they do some internal affairs or something like that. Not all of them are closed, but most of them won’t be able to help you during those hours, so keep that in mind.
4. Spain is a constitutional monarchy
Yes. There is a Spanish King and a Spanish royal family, just like in Britain. King Felipe the VI is the current king and the royal palace is in Madrid and it’s called Palacio Real de Madrid. As any other monarchy, they show great respect for their king, so be sure at least to be aware of the existence of the royal family.
5. They are passionate
The Spanish are passionate people. They are roman catholic, so religion is quite important for them. They love their culture and their king. They love their culture so much, that they translate everything to Spanish (movies, brands, names, everything).
Because of their great love for their culture, Spanish can get easily offended by cultural remarks, so show them the respect for their culture as they expect you to.
I am sure that there will be more shocking differences, especially if you live outside Europe or have never got in contact with any Latin country. These were the top points of Spanish culture that I found different and I thought it would be useful to share them with you.
I hope you’ll enjoy Spain as much as I did and please share this article if you liked it!
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