courtesy of Crown Relocations
Located in South West Europe, just miles from North Africa, Spain’s unique way of life stems from the age-old cultural mix which makes up the country. There’s no other country in the world quite like it, and the laid-back lifestyle, excellent food, great climate and friendly people make Spain a hugely popular destination for both tourists and those looking to start a new life abroad. This is especially true for the British, with a huge expat community now living in the country.
Spain’s landscape is beautiful and encompassing, a combination of flat, desert-like plains, lush greenery, white sandy beaches and snow-tipped mountains. The Canaries and Balearic islands also come under Spain’s rule, with the sun drenched party capital of the world Ibiza just a short flight away. But for anyone who wants to live long term in the country, there are some key points to remember to avoid any possible culture shock when initially settling into the country.Life in Spain
The Spanish pride themselves on their traditional culture, with a strong emphasis on the importance of family. Children are not only free to express themselves, but are often the centrepiece of family life. It is not uncommon for children to choose their own bedtimes, especially during holidays, and highly active, vocal children are considered charming and are an accepted part of dinner parties, no matter how late it gets.
Also in Spain, the concept of ‘late’ takes on a whole new meaning! Dinner tends to be served around 9:30pm, but can often be much later. In the past, Spain’s working hours have been split by a siesta – a two or three hour space for relaxation or leisure during the hottest part of the day. However, in recent times Spain has attempted to move more in line with the rest of Europe, although these working hours are still common in more rural areas of the country.
Another very different aspect of Spanish culture from ours is the way in which birthdays are treated. Instead of the birthday boy/girl being treated throughout the day, it’s actually their responsibility to make sure their friends and relatives have a good time. For instance, when a child comes into school on his or her birthday, they usually bring a bag of treats to share with their friends.
One key thing to remember is that the British sense of politeness is simply not relevant in Spain. If you’re in a bar or club, don’t expect the bartender to serve you if you give him a nod or hover for an extended period of time. Forget everything your mother and father taught you about manners, clear your throat and shout ‘¡Oiga!’, the Spanish equivalent of “Oi!”. Being assertive and direct is not considered to be impolite in Spain. It’s far more about the way you say things rather than the words you use.
Things to Remember
Learn the Language
There’s nothing more frustrating than being unable to order food at a restaurant, a drink at a bar or being simply unable to get your point across in day to day life. Although English is fairly widely spoken, do not expect to get by on this alone. Also, as in most countries, the natives look very dimly on those who show little interest in assimilating themselves with Spanish culture
Upon arriving in Spain, you should register for healthcare with the local authority. You will be given a medical card which entitles you to the same healthcare rights as a native Spaniard. On the whole, the Spanish healthcare system is both well run and free and any healthcare packages usually supplement the state’s offerings.
Spain can be a great destination for anyone, from families looking for a fresh start to those wanting to begin a new career and have a good time in the process. Once in the country, it’s hard not to enjoy the people’s laid back philosophy on life, and everything that comes with it.
For more information about worldwide destinations please visit www.moveoverseas.co.uk.