hotos and Article By: Ashley & Stephen Edited By: Karen Hidalgo
A year ago, Stephen and I decided to move to Spain to escape the conventional “American dream.” The dream where you work 40+ hour weeks to maintain a white picket fence, while desperately looking forward to the only two-weeks a year given to you to explore the world. We were seeking a minimal but meaningful lifestyle. We believed Spain was the perfect destination to find this. We knew there would be some cultural barriers, but we were eager to embrace it all.
This is what we have learned about the Spaniard Culture so far:
1. “NO PASA NADA” ATTITUDE
Everyone has a “no pasa nada” attitude (translation: nothing is ever wrong). You are a half an hour late to lunch — no pasa nada. The copies you requested a week ago aren’t ready — no pasa nada. You forgot to bring your flash drive for today’s presentation — no pasa nada. You paid your light bill late — no pasa nada. They do not stress on the little things, or the big things, for that matter. As long as you eventually make it to lunch or do your presentation, life is good.
It’s a beautiful way to live, but it is a mantra we are learning to live by. I am constantly reminding my Type-A personality that I’m not in America, and I’m not going to get fired.
2. THEY KEEP IT REAL
We’ve learned that Spaniards are blunt. For example, the first day of school Stephen walks into his third-grade class and an eight-year-old boy shouts “que guapo” (how handsome). Kids and adults all ages have no shame, they will tell you how it is — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
3. THEIR LOVING WAYS
Spaniard are a very welcoming and heartfelt population. When first meeting a Spaniard, you do not shake hands – you get not one but two kisses on the cheek. The proximity in which they continue talking to you will forever feel like they are one step too close. Their radius of personal space is much smaller than what we are used to. After a couple of minutes of getting to know you, they will invite you to their home. The rest will be history, and you will forever be family.
4. THEIR SCHEDULE
This is one of the most difficult things we’ve had to adjust to. Spaniards begin their day at 7:00 a.m. with a light breakfast. At 10:30 a.m. they will have a ‘real breakfast.’ This consists of toast with tomato spread and coffee – no eggs, biscuit, or pancakes *sad emoji*. At 2:00 p.m. they have lunch. From 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. the whole country shuts down for ‘siesta’. If you must go to the bank, post office, or dry cleaners – try again in two hours because we are home taking a nap. At 5:00 p.m. restaurants open, but only to serve light appetizers. The cooks arrive at 9:00 p.m., just in time for Spaniard dinner. Dinner is anywhere between 8:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. If it’s the weekend you won’t see a Spaniard in the club until about 2:30 a.m. Oh, and curveball, Spaniards run thirty minutes to an hour behind. They will never make it to a dinner reservation on time.
Despite the cultural differences, as we continue to explore this country and its people we continue to fall in love. We hope we can capture and ingrain some of their easy-going habits into our lives. For now, all we can do is stick to the plan and embrace.
For more adventures follow us on Our Abroad Life blog and Instagram below.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
In 2009, a surfer boy from Orlando met a latina from Miami in the white sandy beaches of New Smyrna Beach. They were inseparable after that. For a short period, they went their separate ways to pursue their academic careers. Stephen attended the University of Florida and received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish. Ashley attended the University of Central Florida and received a bachelor’s degree in Marketing. Seven years later, after graduating and entering the nine-to-five grind, they decided they wanted another life. They wanted a life abroad. They packed their belonging and headed to Spain.
They are currently living in Cartagena, Spain. They travel, blog, and teach English. They have visited 4 countries and 18 cities. Their next destination will be the French Alps. They hope to inspire family and friends to travel and explore new cultures.