20 Aug Cultural differences to be aware of when working in Spain
What is it like to work in Spain?
There’s more than just a time difference to adjust to when you’re moving abroad, new cultures and experiences abound. Here are some tips to remember to help you better adjust to your new environment.
Food and Mealtimes
As you may have guessed, new cuisines are some top cultural differences you’ll come across when working abroad. While the food may be vastly different from what you’re used to, come to your new home with an open mind! Expand your palette by trying local cuisines and regional foods. Experience new flavors, ingredients, and ways of cooking! You might be hesitant to try new foods, but give it a chance and may find your new favorite dish! Accommodations can usually be made for allergies and other dietary restrictions, so don’t be afraid to ask about ingredients and substitutes: there’s something for everyone! Even if some food isn’t to your taste, be respectful and don’t insult the cuisine or those who made it for you. Remember to keep items like epi-pens on your person and keep medicine handy while your body adjusts to the new cuisine.
Mealtimes also differ across regions, so you may have to prepare to eat earlier or later than you’re used to. In Spain, you’ll find that breakfast, lunch, and dinner all fall a bit later in the day than other areas. Meal sizes and portions may also be different. In Spain, breakfast is a light affair, with lunch being the biggest meal of the day. Dinner is usually light as well, being served around 9 or later in the evening. Keep snacks handy while your body adjusts to new mealtimes.
Going hand in hand with new mealtimes is the Siesta! The practice is common in Spain where it originates from, but several regions partake in it, or practice something similar. It translates literally to “nap” but refers to a period of rest people partake in after lunch. People may go home and relax, read a book, or nap to recover some energy before going on with the rest of their day. Some stores close around this time and reopen later in the day, so be prepared for some places to be inaccessible. This break may feel a bit strange when you first relocate, but give it a chance, and you might find the opportunity to rest a welcome change! Remember to be mindful of others and to respect what they choose to do with their siesta time. Don’t expect or pressure them to be available to you during that time.
Pacing may also change when you relocate abroad. Some areas like the United States and the United Kingdom are known for their fast-paced and high stakes atmosphere, but you’ll find that’s not the case everywhere abroad. Spain has a more laid-back attitude and a more relaxed atmosphere. People take their time and are not in a hurry. Don’t feel overly pressured to make it to things early. The phrase “early is on time, on time is late, and late is unaccepted” doesn’t really ring true here. Be responsible about your work, but also take your time and enjoy life: savor the moment a bit more. Distress and relax a bit, and you’ll enjoy your new home more!
Holidays and Celebrations
Holidays are another big cultural difference abroad. Be sure to take note of the holidays in your new host country. Learn the history and meaning behind them and share the experience by taking part in celebrations! You can meet new people and better adjust to your environment by celebrating with neighbors, coworkers, and the locals. Attend festivals, eat holiday cuisine, admire decorations, and enjoy time off. Immerse yourself in the culture of your new home and give yourself a chance to truly appreciate the change.
Working hours observed may be a bit different abroad, so be sure to take that into account. This will vary depending on your job, but whereas in some places it is normal to work into the evening and at all hours of the day, this is not the case in Spain. Be respectful of others and the hours they keep. People don’t normally work outside of work hours, so don’t expect them to, even if you do. While you may choose to work as you want and put in some extra time after normal business hours, be sure to keep your coworkers and others in mind. If you’re sending work assignments or emails after hours or over the weekend, don’t always expect to get a response and respect the fact that others may only be available to you for help or consultation during normal business hours.
Finally, your relocation may include a language change! If you don’t already speak the native language in the region you’re relocating to, try your best to learn it! The most spoken language in Spain is Spanish, but depending on the region you may encounter other languages like Catalan, or to a lesser extent Valencian. Locals will appreciate you trying to speak their regional tongue, and your new home becomes more fun and accessible to you if you learn it. If you already speak the language, polish up your skills! Learn local slang and diction. There may be regional dialects and unique ways of speaking you didn’t know about. Learn and practice what you can, to fit in more with the locals!
Most of all, be open to the new culture and new experiences! Step outside your comfort zone and explore new things!
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