7 Surprising Cultural Differences Between the U.S. and Spain

Seven surprising cultural differences between the US and Spain- Andalucía Bound

Seven surprising cultural differences between the US and Spain- Andalucía Bound

When it comes to cultural differences between the USA and Spain, some come to mind more readily than others. Tapas culture is beginning to permeate foodie scenes in certain US cities and everyone knows that Spaniards quite literally party until the sun comes up, while most US bars are only open until 2am (4am if you’re from Buffalo, like me). But what about all of the little quirks, or even major differences that you don’t even realize exist yet? I had a small taste of Spanish culture when I studied abroad in Granada in 2009, however I unfortunately didn’t get to know any Spaniards and pretty much stuck with my group of United Statesian (yeah I’m fabricating adjectives…so what?) friends as we explored the city.  Not until I moved here to Andalucía two years ago did I really begin to understand how many differences there actually are and how they make living in Spain totally unique. So here’s my round up based on my years here down south. There are myriad more but I want to hear what else you guys come up with.


1. Food Traditions

Food traditions in Spain are like… sacred and ritualistic. I can (and probably will) write an entire post on this because it’s one aspect of their culture that is demonstrated multiple times daily and it fascinates me. I’ve learned a lot more about typical Andalusian foods this summer since I’ve been living with my boyfriends mom and now realize that there’s a whole lot more to Spanish cuisine than croquetas and tortilla. This summer has been filled with lots of garbanzos and gazpacho, picadillos and pisto chock full of tomatoes, squash, and eggplant. I love that Spanish cuisine tends to follow the seasons, something that the USA doesn’t do as much due to the mass production of all types of foods in all seasons. This spring and summer I’ve been introduced to higos chumbos (prickly pears) and nisperos (loquats), two fruits that I’d never heard of (let alone eaten) before. Spaniards also stick to a pretty strict eating schedule, unlike in the US.

In addition to the different types of foods I’ve encountered, I’ve also discovered the ways habits attitudes about eating differ. One I learned early on was the no-egg-for-breakfast clause… it’s just not done here. Eggs for lunch or dinner…sure. But breakfast is a piece of fruit or toast. Cereal is for little kids and oatmeal attracts weird looks. Breakfast number one is when you wake up in the morning… maybe some juice or milk and a piece of fruit. Then, around 11am there’s a break for breakfast number two. A coffee or tea along with a tostada or a little sandwich are usually eaten. At about 2:30 is lunch time. Lunch is the biggest meal of  the day and will often have three courses: a salad of some sort, the main dish, and fruit for dessert. Around 6:00 it’s time for merienda, a snack. Chocolate milk and a muffin, a coffee and a pastry… you decide. That will tide you over ’til around 10:00 when dinner is eaten… any earlier and you may be referred to as a gramma. Another habit central to the food culture (at least down here in the south) is the use of bread during meals. Notice I say the USE of bread rather than the consumption of bread. That’s because bread’s first and foremost occupation here is it’s usage as a tool. Using bread to push food onto a fork, or to sop up juices, or to mush up the tocino into the pringao. That is, using it to mush up a slab of lard into tender pork, meant to be eaten all mixed up and soft. At restaurants bread will often be served along with picos, hard little bread sticks that are strangely addicting. With all  the bread being passed around, it’s easy to get caught up in a carbohydrate complex… watch out!

Tostada con tomate- Andalucía Bound

Half of a mollete with olive oil and tomato… my favorite breakfast

2. Party Culture

Pretty much everyone in the USA is aware that Europeans start drinking younger. With Spain’s drinking age being 18, kids have their first sips even younger than that. There is often the argument (in favor or lowering the drinking age in the USA) that since drinking is more integrated into the culture in Europe, the younger drinkers are more responsible because there isn’t so much stigma attached. In my experience, that’s not true. I’ve seen my 14 year old students drinking in the streets and the teenagers here get equally irresponsibly drunk. One hugely interesting aspect of this is the botellona. In order to curb young people from gathering and drinking in plazas all over town, most towns have a designated area specifically for people to go drink at before heading to the bars. I first experienced this in Granada at a GIANT botellona where probably 500 people were gathered. I was shocked to see everyone standing around in little groups, bottles of liquor and bags of ice in the center, drinking out in the open. In Arcos where I live now the botellona is located at the fair grounds which are unused all year except for during the five days of feria. Young people gather and blast music from their cars while drinking mixed drinks from tall skinny plastic glasses until it’s time to head to the club around 2, or later. Can you imagine if it were legal for young people to gather at your local park at home to drink in public until the wee hours of the morning?

Another really interesting part of the party culture here is how it is a total family affair. Babysitters aren’t really a thing in Spain as far as I’ve seen… if you’re a young parent heading out to meet friends, your 2-year-old is coming with. I was shocked during my first feria in Arcos. Ambling through the casetas at 3am I was pretty tired, but it seemed that the party was just getting started as everything got more crowded. Multiple times I pushed past ladies in high heels with half-full drinks… and their sleeping or confused babies in a stroller. I’m not sure I’ll ever agree with this aspect of the culture… of course young parents can and should go out and have fun, but at what point is it time to be taking your infant back home? My opinion: before the sun comes up.

Botellona Granada- Andalucia Bound

My first experience at the botellona in Granada

3. Business Hours

Pretty much everyone is aware of the Spanish siesta. I mean, a nice after-lunch nap… what’s wrong with that? What I didn’t realize was the extent to which siesta affects life! In most cities, businesses shut down from the hours of 2:00 to 5 or 5:30. I definitely didn’t think this would be such a widespread practice before I came here. Sure, it makes sense for a mom and pop shop to close down while they eat lunch and rest. But I think I can only name a handful of businesses in my town besides restaurants that stay open during siesta… Mercadona, one of the chinos and el Kiosco de Juan. It took me months to get over the urge to want to go run my errands after lunch, making plans and then realizing… shit, it’s closed. It can be really inconvenient at times (especially for banking!) but when it’s super hot you won’t feel so guilty hiding out inside next to your fan; nothing’s open anyway.

Another thing that I discovered this year was the summer hours business schedule. Lot’s of restaurants, shops, and public offices have shortened business hours, with some restaurants taking off for up to two weeks right in the middle of summer! In a country struggling with a vast range of economic problems, it seems counterintuitive to me that they would cut hours for the lucky people who ARE working, for example the woman who works 10:00am-1:00am at the Extranjería (foreigner’s office) in Mérida, especially when during the year those same public offices are only open 9-2 anyways! I constantly have to remind myself to go with the flow and not to criticize; but sometimes the git-‘er-done American inside me rears her productivity valuing head and roars!

Arcos Empty Siesta- Andalucia Bound

The main shopping street in Arcos, empty during siesta

4. Openness About Money

For a country in deep economic crisis it makes sense that financial matters would be a topic of conversation. I NEVER expected, however, that personal finances would also be on the table! Within minutes of meeting me people would ask how much I was paying for my apartment or how much I made a month… two things that most people in the United States might only talk about with close friends and family. After a while, though, it becomes slightly liberating as you don’t have to worry about making remarks about money in fear that someone might be offended, because you’ll probably be pretty familiar with their financial situation (many Spaniards’ financial situations being like, non existent). If you’re like me you might even start to feel guilty that you’re living in their country and making money while a huge number of highly educated and motivated Spaniards are unemployed. Of course it’s not out fault; English teachers are in high demand as pretty much all types of jobs require that Spaniards have a basic level of English. Imagine if in the USA you had to be able to speak Spanish in order to qualify for even a waitressing job! Money is a go-to topic for lots of people here, and I’ve found it really helpful to actually read about how finances work in the US because lots of times people will ask me things like average costs of houses, how unemployment benefits work, retirement savings and 401ks, and it’s pretty embarrassing to not know the answer to something pretty fundamental… I know from experience!

Coins- Andalucia Bound

Stacks of cash…

5. Importance of Language Learning

Going along with what I said in the previous section, learning a second (or third) language is SO important in Spain, and I think all around Europe! It’s really sad to me that language learning isn’t started younger in the US. In the bilingual school I worked at the past two years, the 5th and 6th graders also learned French in addition to having English and Science classes taught completely in English. It’s really selfish to expect others to speak English everywhere you go, and I always feel especially guilty when traveling to other countries where I can’t even say thank you in the native tongue. Of course it’s pretty obvious that language learning is valued in Spain as told by the fact that I am (and many of you are) here teaching English. I try to imagine the tables being reversed and that this level of eagerness to learn were prominent in the US and it’s really interesting to think about.

6. University Culture

College a.k.a. University culture here is vastly different from that of the US. “College towns” are non-existent and Universities pretty much only have campuses in bigger cities. Students largely attend public universities and a huge amount of students get grants to help them pay for their degrees, degrees which are extremely cheap compared to the US. I’m talking 700€-1300€ per year for a Bachelor’s degree (un grado), and a 60-120 credit Master’s degree (1-2 years) costing between 1,000-4,000€ total. I’m not sure exactly how these becas (grants) work, but I don’t recall any Spanish friends saying that they’ve had to pay for school out of their pockets or apply for loans.

Aside from the huge price tag difference, the university social life seems to be pretty different, too. I can’t speak from experience so please correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure a traditional campus with big green quads and lots of extracurricular groups just isn’t really a thing here. Spanish students take their studies really seriously. The image I have of Spanish university life is very much “all business” and not much of a community feel, whereas my image of US university life is lots of fun with classes during the day, a community of students living together and learning together. That’s not to say that US college students don’t work hard because I KNOW they do… but we also play hard with our classmates. It’s really sad to me that so many dedicated Spanish students are getting Bachelors and Master’s degrees and are then resigning to working in a grocery store, if they can even get a job at one. Of course the whole economic situation is bad, but I especially feel for all of the young people who study to find work, can’t find work so they decide to go back to school, and then are classified as over-qualified and remain without work.

Going along with the difference of the social scene at university here is the fact that lots university students will go home for the weekend. Usually within a couple hours of their hometown, on Friday afternoon students from all over Spain hop on a train to head home for the weekend where they can enjoy mom’s cooking and laundry services. Some lucky coeds even get tupperware containers full of frozen stews and other mom-specialties to tide them over during the week!

7. Close-Knit Social Groups

I have had a particularly hard time with this one as I’ve been trying to wheedle my way into my boyfriends close-knit group of friends for a year. There are so many variables stacked against the “outsider” trying to make her way in: the language barrier, the cultural differences, the fact that you haven’t had all the memories with them since you were ten years old, differing interests, etc. As hard as I try to be my normal witty, snarky, silly self with Paco’s friends, it never seems to be quite good enough and I still feel like I’ll always just be Paco’s girlfriend. I never realized the aspects of friendship I would miss until I found myself surrounded by people I was supposed to try to be friends with. Pop culture references and viral internet video quotes usually fall on deaf ears, and quoting movies in Spanish just doesn’t do it for me. Luckily, I’ve been able to explain a lot of my go-tos (“Is this real life?!?!”) to Paco, but I’m always looking for ways to get  “in” with his friends. They like me and all, but if I’m going to be in this for the long haul, I’d like them to be my friends and a support system as well! One argument that consistently pops up every now and again is that I need to make more of an effort with Paco’s friends, which really pisses me off! I try to be myself and to make an effort to talk to his friends, but am I the only one who thinks that maybe the friends should be putting in an equal amount of effort? Can’t they understand that it must be difficult for someone to try to form a bond with a group of people who have known each other like the backs of their hands for the past 15 years? This is one cultural difference that I consistently struggle with; I have to tell myself it only gets easier or else I’ll go crazy!

Pacos Friends BBQ

Me on the right, just trying to fit in!!

So, what other big differences have you guys noticed between your home culture and Spain’s? What about differences from another culture you’ve lived in? Are there any that really irk you or that you prefer to your own culture? I’d love to hear what you have to say about it.

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29 thoughts on “7 Surprising Cultural Differences Between the U.S. and Spain

  1. Not to comment on my own post or anything, but I’m having slight technical issues and the “Leave a Reply” box won’t show up until I leave a comment first for some reason. Here’s hoping I get it fixed soon but until then this is my solution 🙂


  2. I’m somewhat glad to hear that even someone with a Spanish boyfriend had a hard time cracking into a Spanish friend group! I was in Bilbao, and the cuadrillas are notoriously closed and making friends was definitely a struggle! People in the north are really hard to get to know, but once you do, you have a friend for life. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I definitely agree business hours are annoying,and add on don’t leave errands for Sundays!!

    I think that the college culture (or lack thereof) also comes from the fact that a lot of Spaniards don’t even leave home to go to school. I’ve gotten a lot of “It’s because we’re more family oriented in Spain, everyone in the US runs away when they’re 18.” So they don’t see the need to make their college family/community cause they’re still very involved with their own families and friends they’ve had since they were 3. lol


    • Ugh, yeah Sundays kill me! Haha. You’re totally right about college culture… pretty much no one goes far from home so there’s no urgency to create a college family. I never thought of it like that!


      • Hi everyone, I know this is an old post but I would like to leave a comment anyways because I believe some of the things you wrote on the article are not completely right or maybe just too Andalisia orientated. Please forgive me if I make a mistake with English. I was born in Madrid, but I live 3 months each year in Malaga, with part of my family who is from there, I have also lived in Holland and I´ve lived and studied in Seattle too. I will follow your post so I don´t forget anything.
        The food part is mainly right and you do say you are focusing on Andalusia so it´s perfect. It´s in the 2º topic, partying, in which I began to disagree. It is true that there is a kind of party named Botellón, or Botellona in Andalusia, however this is WAY bigger on the sourth of Spain. When you go past Andalusia to the center-north this kind of partying becames more and more weird, reduce to concert or locar fairs. Bars are open to very late indeed, and there are kids who drink at 13, but it´s such a small minority. Most people starts around 16, but if they get seen by the police, they will get into trouble (so, pretty much like in the U.S.) the legal age is 18, as you said, as in most countries in the world.
        About Business hours, you are right…if you are only talking about towns and local businesses, in cities, or big towns or large stores is not that common. And about the “Siesta”, again, so much bigger in Andalusia than in the rest of Spain. For the rest of the country is pretty much for kids under 4, and some eldery people, mostly because office hours do not allow a 3 hour break. About the restaurants and I quote you ” taking off for up to two weeks right in the middle of summer” I have never ever in my life seen that, mostly on coast places where they make almost ALL their money during summer season, so it must be either a really really small town or a very wealthy owner I guess, because that is so weird. Most bars, cafés, or restaurants during summer rest one day each week, being this ussualy between monday to thursday. About the Foreigner´s office, well there I have to give it to you, =), government facilities have a very short time for office´s hours and I, as any other Spaniard, (But the ones who work there I guess) complain about this.
        About Openness about money, well that denpends a lot, again, in which part of the country you are, people from the Islands, and Andalusia tend to be more open and warmer in everything, as you go to the north we tend to get more cranky and reserved, even more introvert (but we don´t usually bite). But I do have to say Spaniards do not get offended easily (normaly).
        On languages, we pretty much agree. When I was living in the USA, I found kind of sad that so few people studied a second language (to the point when the person can be fluent and not only 3 years in high school) Meanwhile I was gowing up (and still now of course) I studied French, English, German, Latin, Ancient Greek and Swedish, and I´m not a weirdo =), Of my 10 close friends, all of them have (Aside form at least a C1 on English and about half of them Latin and Ancient Greek, and French) 2 have studied Japaneese; one, Korean: other, German; Other, Swedish, and other Chineese. Learning lenguages is so enriching I was surprise not to find habit in the US as much as in Europe, but I do believe (at least on the State I was living in, the teaching of laguages is increasing )
        About the Close-Knit Social Groups, I really don´t have anything to say, it happends everywhere and it feels awfull to be the outsider xD. But it´s something personal so I won´t get into that.
        I would love to get deaper on what you said about Universities. First, good, big universities are either in Madrid or Catalonia (but most of the degrees there are in Catalan xD) There are of course some good universities like University of Salamanca outside those communities but not so many. Inside Madrid there are 5 big Universities located either on the sourth of the city, the north or both (if it has several campus like Complutense or Carlos III) They are Autonoma of Madrid, Complutense, Politecnica, Carlos III, and Rey Juan Carlos. Of those, I have friends in all of them (but Politécnica so I won´t touch that one) I have heard kind of bad thing about Rey Juan Carlos but they were personal opinions. About the other 3 I can say they are great Universities, very expensive (inside the Spanish system around 1,500€-3,000€) and have A LOT of clubs, dorms, student associations, music chambers etc… . They do ask for a lot of studying level and have really high access grades to get into, but they are so worth the time. Mine, Carlos III University of Madrid, is listed on the top 50 Universities under 50 years old, it has great engineering, law, communications, and economics departments. From it have gone out students who won Pulitzers, Emmys, international engineering competitions etc… and also in which the only European lawer chosen by the IBA as the best lawer studied. I don´t mean to do propaganda what I´m trying to say is that is not true that Universities here are “all business”. They have film forums, clubs of drama, arts, music, reading, writting, languages. Associations such as Amnesty International, UN, Programming, Robotics, National Debate leagues etc…But of course not all universities have those thing, and one has chose carefully. Tlaking about the Tuition fees and Scholarships, they prettymuch work like this (in a realy simplified way) if you are a freshmen, then you need a 6,5/10 to get a full scholarship, and if you are already in University you need in Social science and Communications mayors to have pass the 90% of your credits and a 6,5/10, and in the rest of mayors the 60% of the credits and a 6,5. One must also prove the total familiar income is not higer than a stablished limit. Then one can get on one side, the fix amoung (either you get 0 or you get 1,500€) and on the other hand the variable amoung (from 60€ to 6,000€) depending on your grade and family income. An last, about Students not moving from home because the are more ” family orientated” again Andalusia. In my class 120 student on my same year, only about the 10% are from Madrid, the others come from all over the country and stay either on the university dorms (3) or on rented student flats. Me, as one of the ones who still leaves at home, I do it because I find silly to move closer to university when it is already 10 min-walking from my house and I do not have an income enought to cover for my own place.
        All this been said, it´s a nice post but please, next time do not generalize that much.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Thess, thank you so much for your long and thoughtful comment! I really enjoyed reading about the point of view of someone outside of Andalucia. As my blog is called Andalucia Bound I think it’s quite apparent that I mostly wrote about my experiences in Andalucia (and specifically in a small town) so I’m glad you made it clear to anyone reading that my experiences can’t reflect an entire country since I’ve only lived in he south. I’m learning new things every day about Andalucia and Spain so I’m always interested in hearing when my impressions are not so accurate. Thanks for reading!


      • to Chelsea:

        Even if you titled your site “Andalucia Bound” you never disclaimed, in the body of your article, that you were not commenting on the whole of Spain and were limiting yourself only to Adalucia. The fact is your article gives the impression that your Adalucian experience is a reflection of the whole of Spain, and, of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Thank you ThessPfferr for your insightful response to this article.

        As for your boyfriend’s friends, well, I had the same experience with my husband’s friend while I lived in Germany. Also, so much of what you are experiencing in Spain I too experienced in Germany, so you see that such things are not limited to Spain. Germans are much more patriarchal than I every expected, much to my chagrin; unfortunately for you, so too are the Spanish. The fact is, what you’re experiencing with your boyfriend is attributed to patriarchy and not nationality, and if you had experience the same behavior here in the US instead of Spain you would more easily see that. I wish you the best. My family is from Asturias, and Asturias is light-years different from Andalusia. You should give it a look-see.


  4. Hi there! Glad to hear you’re mostly adapting well. I actually prefer the Spanish lifestyle to the American one since it seems that family and personal time is valued over typical business mentality. Remember, it’s all about working to live, NOT living to work which I think is as it should be. Also, I disagree with the thought that Spanish students don’t play seriously. They do, but university life is different because Spain is older than USA and so many of its universities are older and can’t really be expanded like American universities. Also, most of the work is done independently or online so although they go to class, it’s not as integral to university life. But one good example of a Spanish “university town” (although it’s more well known for its Moorish history and tourism) is Granada where the University of Granada is very integral to the city’s tourism and economy. Plus, now in 2014, the Spanish economy is slowly but surely recovering although high unemployment still is an issue. Well, I hope this helps and that you enjoyed your time in Spain. 🙂


    • Hey Marrissa, I agree with you- I definitely prefer the “work to live” culture of Spain. It seems that they understand better than Americans that enjoying life to the fullest is extremely important! I also agree that they party hard! And not just university students. I loved Granada when I studied there because of its university population but I didn’t get that sense of community and school pride as much as I do at unis in the US. Thanks for reading!


  5. Hi, I´ve loved your post. I´m the typical overcuallified spanish young woman trying to learn English, and I love to learn about american culture.

    I´m going to give you a little piece of advice about spanish “friendship”. Here, it´s really tipical that every part of a couple have their own friends. Your boyfriend´s friends will allways be his, and you will always be their friend´s girlfriend. I´ve been with my boyfriend for eleven years (since we were in highschool) and his friends are not mine. They are kind with me, of course, but I´m just someone´s girlfriend for them. In my group of friend it´s the same. I have men and women friends (some of with I´ve met for only a few years) and when they get in a relationship, I always try to “draw” a line between them and me. Not because I don´t like them, but because I know that if they ever break up I´ll have to choose a side, and my friend is my friend.

    Think about it, and you will notice that the girlfriends of your boyfriend´s friends s are in the same situation than you. But don´t worry, it´s really easy to make new friends in Spain. We are really opened to meet new people and we love making new friends, specially here, in the south.


    • Hi Paula, thank you for reading! Your comment is reassuring. I’m glad it’s not just me and that relationships between significant others and friends are always like this in Spain. You’re right, it’s definitely easy to meet people, especially in the south, and I have some really great Spanish friends that I met before I even started dating my boyfriend 🙂 Thanks for your comment!


  6. Pingback: Adventures in Spain! » Jessica Alventosa Photography

  7. I totally agree with your comment about breaking into friend groups. I just feel like Spaniards in general are just way more closed off than Americans. I’ve been here for almost a year and I have two Spanish friends, more like acquaintances. I live with four Spaniards here in Madrid and they are all students and spend ALL day studying. We haven’t gone out together one. single. time.

    As my time continues here I continually find myself just feeling like people from Anglo countries, and especially Latin American countries, are just way more outgoing, open, and friendly. All of my friends that I have made here in Spain have been either Brazilians, Americans, and some Central Americans.

    It is frustrating because I really did imagine myself just coming to Spain and fitting right into their culture, but there is so much about it that just doesn’t make sense to me at all and it doesn’t help that they are not nearly as open and fun as I find people from other places to be. And trust me, I’ve made an effort to befriend my roommates. I find it so odd that not one of them has invited me to come stay for a weekend with their family in Salamanca or Málaga. When I was in the university I asked my foreign roommates if they wanted to come back with me all the time to my home a few hours away. They are definitely friendly, it isn’t like they are cold, but from young Spaniards in general I just get a closed off, not open to foreigners or new ideas vibe which I find extremely frustrating.

    Love the food though, just wish chicken cesar salads were more of a thing here. So much freaking bread here.

    I am having a blast in Spain, I swear, but you’re right on your observations of their social nuances.

    Cuidate! Un abrazo.


    • Hey Noah, thanks for reading! The best way I’ve found to make Spanish friends is to befriend Spaniards who are also new to the city you’re living in. One of my first (and best) Spanish friends was a teacher at the school I was placed it. It was his first year teaching and he had just moved to Arcos a week before the school year started so he didn’t have any friends either. It was much easier to create a group of friends out of people who didn’t already have their own friend groups. It can definitely be hard to find people who are really willing to become your good friend, but I think it may be in part because they think you don’t understand them well, and that you’ll be leaving “soon” so it’s not really worth it. Like you said, everyone is friendly but not many go the “extra mile” to really become your good friend.

      A chicken caesar salad sounds great right about now! So. Much. Bread.

      Enjoy the rest of your time here!


  8. The comment about ¨most spaniards´ financial situation being non existent¨ is quite an exageration. Spain already has a reputation that it does not necessarily deserve and ignorant people such as yourself should stop floating opinions to the rest of the short sided world.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hello,
    I found your blog/ article very helpful in some home work I am doing on Spain. I know it is different everywhere you go in Spain, but it was great to hear your experience. I would really love interviewing someone from Spain if you could help set that up. I do not know where to begin and it is for educational purposes only. Please let me know if you can help me!
    Thank you,


  10. Hi Chelsea! Just found your blog and for sure I’m going to have a look to the rest of the posts. I found it very interesting to see the point of view of a “Unitedstatesian” who is living in Spain, as I’m used to read how Spanish people feel about living abroad (because I’m thinking about that possibility too). I live in a town near Barcelona which is a ghost town in winter but a superhappy holiday resort in summer…when you meet lots of tourists (Irish, British and Ducth mostly)that could be great friends. I really love that, but it’s true that not everyone in my group feels this way. What I’m trying to say is don’t feel like it is too difficult…you just need to meet the right people! 🙂


  11. Hello,
    Interesting your blog. About the thing of Spaniards not being open, I should tell you that once you are into adulthood it is hard to have a group of friends, and in fact it is easier when you go out or do something with people that are new to the town. I lived in different cities in Spain and the US and that is a fact. The locals already have their groups, and you have to make big efforts to enter some groups.

    I think that in fact in Europe is easier to have new friends because of its cities’ distribution, compared to the US.

    In fact, I have a very similar view on many of the topics you mention here (depending on where you live in Spain or the US, it might differ a lot). I live in the south of the US, and it is impossible to make new (local american) friends: they always have something to do at home (usually watching cable) or to attend church ALL the time. Going out? There aren’t many places in fact around here.


  12. I’m living in Valencia region and one huge cultural difference I noticed is that strangers don’t awknowledge eachother and openly judge one another. I was born here and lived here until I was five, now I’m 18 and I’m back living with my dad. Maybe its because in all that time in between I lived in California but I find it really strange that I cant walk down the street and just give a quick salutation to anyone I walk by. In california I will say “hello” or “hi” to anyone with the flash of a smile and I just think its a pleasant way to go through life, it makes me feel more open. And I know this culture is loving so I’m confused on this. People will just stare at me (this is before they could ever know im not a local so we can cross that possibilty for unopeness off) and even when I smile they will stay silent an serious until we walk completely past each other. Has anyone else noticed this? I would love to hear replies. Thank you.


    • It’s interesting that you say that because I feel like here in Andalucía it’s practically mandatory to say hello to people everywhere you go! When I go into a bank, a small shop, the post office etc, everyone says hi and the norm is to say hello back, and also to say bye (to no one in particular) when you leave. I say hi to people on the streets all the time. It’s interesting how different the different regions of Spain can be!


    • The stranger’s not acknowledging each other was also the case in a place near Santander (a few miles Westwards). This was back in 2006 and was my first time in Spain. I was used to smiling all the time and never once received a smile back. It was strange for me but I was simply not used to it. It’s definitely a cultural thing and for the following year I went to Spain (in the South this time), I deliberately restrained myself from smiling to people while walking down the street but despite this, it’s very friendly and laid back. It’s a kdifferent mentality and you have to try and fit in with their social etiquette.

      The staring’s also true and there’s somewhat of a hard look about Spaniards and I read somewhere that their street image by default is to look not happy and look serious as they don’t want to look like they are having a good time in case someone is having a bad day as it could rub it in their face. It’s different to American mentality that you should look happy by default. Spaniards are very considerate of other people.

      These days, I don’t smile near as much and only when it feels naturally to do so. It’s not good to force a smile.


  13. I liked your article, and have have one technical suggestion: can you move your strip of link icons (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc)? It covers the article text all the way along the left side, making it very hard to read. The only fully visible lines of text are the two at the top and the last four at the bottom the screen. Even now, I can’t see what I’m typing! Maybe moving it to the top or bottom of the screen, where it would only cover 1-2 lines instead of a section of all the lines?


  14. Thanks so much for this article! I’ve been hopping around the internet trying to figure out what Andalicia is like and what differences I’m going to be facing there in a few months and this helps a lot! So yes, I’ll probably be stalking your page until I get there myself!


  15. Pingback: Proyecto Final – Blog

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