If you are moving to Spain from the US, it would be helpful to know about things that are not the same as in the USA.
See below SDC International Shipping’s top cultural differences between the US and Spain.
It’s OK to Be Late
One of the first things to strike you is that punctuality isn’t the same as in the US. It’s OK to be late for 15 or 20 minutes. Or, the meeting might start at 10:30 am instead of 10:00 am and finish late. However, it’s better to turn up on time if you are a new employee.
Meal – Special Time for Spaniards
Negotiating a business deal while eating at a restaurant with business partners is quite acceptable in American culture. If you plan a business meeting with a Spanish partner, you should inform the other party. Lunch or dinner in Spain is typically a time to laugh and relax with other people.
Competitiveness at Workplaces
Competitive thinking is very common in the US work culture. However, working in Spain and having Spanish colleagues means slowing down on trying to be the best you can be. Otherwise, you risk being perceived as an upstart trying to take over the others. Instead of being an individual achiever, never forget that you are part of a team and that relationships are more important than outdoing the other.
Culture of Bars – More About Socializing and Partying
Almost all big cities in Europe or the US have some bar culture, but whatever bar culture you are used to in the US, it is far from being any close to the nightlife in Madrid or Barcelona.
In Spain, it’s more than drinking alcohol but eating and socializing. Unlike American bars in New York or Los Angeles, many are open until sunrise as long as the noises don’t bother neighbors. People meet, enjoy parties, watch sports, and stay up late chatting. If the bar you are hanging in closes earlier, you can always head to one of the so-called after-hours clubs.
Dating with Spaniards
Don’t be surprised if your beau is still living with his parents. While most Americans will leave their home at the age of 21, that isn’t the case with Spaniards. And it’s totally OK in their culture.
Another thing to keep in mind – family is a big deal. Spanish people are not alone and are usually a part of their immediate and extended family. When dating a Spanish man or girl, you are likely to be soon invited to meet his or her family members. And be ready for weekly dinners with the family once you tighten the knot with your best half.
Spaniards Can Sound and Look Very Emotional
You may find it at first alarming when you hear two people talking with each other in raised voices and waving their hands. Don’t be scared! It’s in their blood. Being loud is often an expression of excitement or conviction. Spaniards are also more expressive than Americans in their body language, so expect many gestures and facial expressions.
A Slower Pace of Life
Spaniards don’t rush. It can be a bit irritating, especially if you move to Spain from a large city in the USA. However, if you are tired of the crazy rhythm of a big city, you’ll love a slower pace. And siestas that last from 3 pm to 5 pm contribute to such a philosophy.
It may seem that locals live in a different dimension and, surprisingly, still have time for everything. After a few months of living in Spain, you’ll get used to this lifestyle and its charms. After all, what can be better than relaxing and enjoying life?
But it is in outdoor sports where you can see the real speed.
Sport is For Living – You Live If You Move
Americans are used to relying on their cars a lot. In contrast, it isn’t uncommon to see many cyclists on Spanish streets. We think looking at the sport as the norm is in the DNA of most Spaniards. In the US, people go a lot to gyms, and there, it’s more about outdoor activities like jogging, rock climbing, kayaking, and paragliding. Why not if the climate is helping too?
Differences in Dressing
When it comes to cultural differences in clothing, it seems like the focus is more on elegance in Spain. Americans care about feeling comfortable, and for Spaniards, it’s of less concern. Spanish men and women prefer to dress with style.
In spring and summer, men typically wear Bermuda shorts or light pants with cotton polo shirts and sandals. Girls love wearing skirts and dresses, especially with flower prints. Some elements of traditional accessories often make a good mix of traditional and branded clothes.