Culture clashes are common when you live in Spain and/or have Spanish friends. We’re going to clarify some Spanish customs to avoid unnecessary confusion and annoyances.
Hi, how are you?, come in, come in, take a look around.
When you visit a Spanish friend at their home, don’t be surprised if your friend not only asks you to come into the living room but also shows you (and tells you about) the kitchen (fully-equipped), the bedrooms (matching duvet and curtains), the bathrooms (floor to ceiling tiles) and the terrace (with flowers and plants to make it more beautiful). We Spaniards love to show you our entire house. We feel good doing it. That’s why we feel a little uncomfortable when we go to a foreign friend’s home and they don’t show us around, just the living room. We might ask ourselves: Is the rest of the house dirty? Aren’t we as good of friends as I thought? Is there someone else in the house? Etc.
Is my friend Aida home?
Phone calls are another culture clash if they happen between a Spanish person and a foreigner. When we want to talk to someone and call their home or workplace we’ll ask, “Is So-and-so there?” And that’s it. All the bother of “Hello, good morning, I’m Raquel González and I’d like to talk to…,” we skip.
It’s too formal and informational, and we prefer to get to the point. Don’t be annoyed if you pick up the phone and a Spaniard asks you directly to speak with someone else.
Coffee with a spot of milk, that’s all.
Spaniards, in a bar, with the waiters, don’t thank them as much as people do in other countries. This lack of appreciation for the service by Spaniards can seem a bit brusque to some people, but it’s common.
That’s why we feel a little uncomfortable when we go to a foreign friend’s home and they don’t show us around, just the living room. We might ask ourselves: Is the rest of the house dirty? Aren’t we as good of friends as I thought? Is there someone else in the house?
See you tomorrow… Farewell… Be seeing you… Goodbye, goodbye.
Among Spaniards, the farewells are eteeeeeeeeeeeeeeernal. We don’t know how to say goodbye to each other in a short and concise way. We’re incapable. Maybe it’s because we don’t want to leave each other, but the fact is that Spaniards take a long time to say goodbye. We say goodbye, but we stay to comment on our plans for tomorrow. We say goodbye again, but we stay to talk about the weather. We say goodbye once more, but we stay to tell a joke, etc., etc. And so on to infinity. On the other hand, when a foreign friend says goodbye and just leaves, we’re concerned because we don’t understand why they left so fast and we think maybe they’re angry or upset about something.
Arrive late, but on time.
If you’re invited to a Spanish friend’s party, never arrive early or on time. If you arrive early or on time you might find that the party hasn’t started and the host hasn’t even showered or dressed. If you arrive on time you’ll be the only one at the party and give the impression that you’re too eager to dance, drink or hook up. The best time to arrive at a Spanish party is at least 30 minutes after the start time. That’s when you can be sure the host has already prepared everything and some other guests will have arrived.
Spanish language courses at Estudio Sampere: grammar, communication, and culture!
I hope these explanations about some Spanish customs will help you to live better among us without surprises or annoyances, as it’s not our intention to bother anyone. We’re just like this. Remember that the best way to learn Spanish is to come to Spain and mingle with us.