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You know you have lived in Spain when....

Updated on September 23, 2015
Surprising differences between Spain and England
Surprising differences between Spain and England

Funny differences between living in Spain and home

After having lived on the Spanish island of Mallorca for 12 years I thought it would be fun to highlight some cultural differences between my place of birth (England) and Spain.

I wrote this page intending it to be humorous, but at the same time all the quotes are true. I love both the English and Spanish cultures. So, what makes me qualified to write this page and to be an authority on the subject?

I was born and bought up in London, and had my first son when I was 21 years old with a young lady whose parents were from Spain, so when our son was 2 years old we decided to move to Mallorca. I lived with an authentic Spanish family there, put my children through school as I worked with the locals, so I embraced all their culture, not just living like a tourist with a holiday home.

I have now been back in England for about one year so I can really see the differences between my homeland and Spain.

Image published under Public Domain Licence.

Me working as a stone mason
Me working as a stone mason

You know you have lived in Spain for too long when...

I have split my observations on this page in to categories to make it a little more organised than just a random list of differences.

Now, I wouldn't expect people who have been on holiday or a trip to Spain to recognize these differences. However, if you have lived in Spain I'm sure you'll giggle along with me and can relate to nearly all of them. So, I hope you enjoy having a quick read through of my page.

On here as well I have included some links to my pages about the beautiful fishing village of Soller in Mallorca (to the right), with loads of information and helpful tips if you are thinking of visiting there.

Image by peterb6001: Me working as a stone mason

All other images on the page: are my personal images except for Amazon or eBay pics.

You know you have worked in Spain for too long when

This list is based on personally working for painters and decorators, stone masons and builders. In these three companies I worked for, that days team would all meet in a bar in the morning, so that we would share the transport to wherever we were working.

The bars would be full of workmen between 6.15 and 7 am. All following the same customs.

  1. When meeting your work colleagues in a bar at 6.30 am you are not surprised that they have a shot or two of spirits, in or with their coffee, and find yourself ordering one too.
  2. At your 30 minute breakfast break at 9 am you now think it is perfectly normal to have a glass of wine with your baguette or tapas.
  3. You think that anybody that eats anything other than a baguette, tapas or a croissant for breakfast is a freak.
  4. Swear words are no longer offensive, and you use the C word as an expression of surprise, or just as a word between sentences.
  5. Two drops of rain make you smile, woohoo you are all going to the bar then home for the day, working is out of the question in these circumstances.

Make yourself a Spanish breakfast with wine and Serrano Ham

Fermin Bone-in Jamon Serrano Ham Pack (17-19 Lbs. Ham+knife+holder)
Fermin Bone-in Jamon Serrano Ham Pack (17-19 Lbs. Ham+knife+holder)

Jamon Serrano is Spains version of Palma Ham (from Italy) and there has always been a dispute as to which is better. For me, I may be biased but Jamon Serrano get's my vote, the best of the best being that of Pata Negra. This comes from huge black pigs that live outside on spacious grounds and feed exclusively on acorns.

This ham has been cured for at least one year, and comes with stand and knife. The price is based per pound at about $16.50 so when ordering make sure you check the final price as it will vary slightly.

 

You know your children go to a Spanish school when

My children have (and still do) attend school in Spain. There are some big differences I noticed between there and England. Here are a few:

  1. When visiting a school open day in England you find yourself looking for the free wine and beer for the parents.
  2. Three months Summer holidays doesn't seem like an eternity anymore.
  3. The fact that your child can read and write at the age of 4 is normal and nothing to be proud of.
  4. Your children call their teacher by their first name and don’t try to hide from them if they see them outside of school hours on the street, like I used to.
  5. 800 euros (approx $1085) a year for their 10 small paperback school books is now completely normal, No?

Children in a bar? of course

Image: My boys are happy the 3 months summer holidays are starting by peterb6001

You have spent to much time in Spanish bars when

If you visit the local 'Spanish Bars' and not the new trendy ones you will find they are all quite similar, both what they serve, how they serve, the clientele and the atmosphere.

  1. You order your drinks at the bar in your birth town and take them to your table without paying, without thinking or batting an eyelid.
  2. You don’t think a fight is starting when a group starts shouting, swearing and banging their fists on the bar really loudly.
  3. You are not offended by having to ask for a key to get into the toilets.
  4. You drink as much as you like all day and night without a worry about how much it will cost.
  5. You actually start to get good at table football and have lost any pool playing skills you may have had.
  6. You have become a supporter of Barca or Real Madrid and when watching the match in a bar you will never ever admit your team are in the wrong when foul play takes place.
  7. It is no longer shocking to you that there are different prices for locals, Spanish people, then all other people that visit.

Image: Younger generation having breakfast in a bar in Spain, no alcohol for them though by peterb6001

Spanish Media and Entertainment

A very brief overview of Spanish television and the internet, well, Facebook.

  1. You are really surprised if the TV adverts are shorter than 20 minutes.
  2. You have come to accept that Spanish people still find middle aged men dressed up as women hilarious.
  3. You understand that your friends think Spain's entry for The Eurovision Song Contest is ‘cool, and actually a good song’
  4. Certain actor’s voices like Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt can be recognized by you from their voice overs. and you start to believe this is how they sound in real life. The same goes for The Simpsons, then when you watch it in English it doesn't sound right.
  5. No longer are you surprised to see an 18+ film on the telly in the daytime and start to wonder why other countries even bother with a watershed.
  6. A reply to any of the 2000 Selfies your female friends will have on their Facebook wall has always got to be 'Guapa or Guapaaaaaa, (beautiful, gorgeous, pretty) just like the other 200 people have written and nothing more.
  7. If somebody writes something on Facebook that contains the tiniest bit of humour you write ‘Jajajajajajaja’ and nothing more, (just like the other 199 people).

Inland Mallorca and Inland England

You know you've shopped in Spanish supermarkets and local shops when

At first visiting Spanish supermarkets, local stores and markets is an exciting and romantic adventure. To be honest I am missing them again already, however....

  1. You find it reasonable and logical that smaller shops are closed between 14.00 and 17.00.
  2. You have began to like the fact that you can only buy the fruits and vegetables that are in season, and look forward to months when certain foods (like watermelon) will become available.
  3. The Chinese and Indian food sections in the supermarket all fit on one small shelf, you don't bother to look around to find out where the rest of it is, because you know there is no more, that is your choice of what is on offer.
  4. You are no longer fazed by the fact there is not a ready meals section.
  5. No longer do you get angry when people bump into with their trolleys and don't say sorry.
  6. You have learnt to take an alternative route rather than trying to say excuse me and get past the two old ladies chatting in the isle, as you are wise and know this is an impossible task.
  7. If somebody is in front of you on the meat or fish counters, you prepare yourself to listen to their weekly gossip that they are about to share with the employee.
  8. At the meat and fish counter you automatically shout out who's last?
  9. You have given up trying to convince people that Pan Bimbo is rubbish sliced bread.
  10. You consider spending 6 euros on wine as an expensive bottle.

Spanish Fashion Trends

Although the fashion trends in Spain can be very similar to the rest of the western world, the timing isn't always in sync with them.

  1. There is nothing wrong with the mullet hairstyle, whether it be on a Man or Lady.
  2. You don’t find those women’s baggy bum trousers weird anymore.
  3. On a recent visit to your homeland you was shocked to learn new words such as Manscara, Guyliner and Metrosexual.
  4. You are now used to wearing a jumper until it is a least 28 degrees.
  5. When you travel back home you are genuinely shocked by how cheap clothes are.

Women's Spanish Style Baggy Pants

ELLAZHU Baggy Spring Harem Hippie Dots Stiching Pants Trouser Onesize GY80 (Army Green)
ELLAZHU Baggy Spring Harem Hippie Dots Stiching Pants Trouser Onesize GY80 (Army Green)

I swear nearly every women in Spain must have a pair of these, obviously in different designs and colors but these are the type I'm talking about above. Looking by the price they are pretty trendy in the states too. Click on the link through to Amazon to see what I mean.

Come back though please :)

 
The Street-Wise Spanish Survival Guide: A Dictionary of Over 3,000 Slang Expressions, Proverbs, Idioms, and Other Tricky English and Spanish Words and Phrases Translated and Explained
The Street-Wise Spanish Survival Guide: A Dictionary of Over 3,000 Slang Expressions, Proverbs, Idioms, and Other Tricky English and Spanish Words and Phrases Translated and Explained

As this page is really about experiences with Spanish people and their culture, a street wise phase book is a great way to really delve into the deep when in Spain.

 

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The Big Spanish Family Sunday Lunch

Now, if you are in a Spanish family, on Sundays you will experience a wonderful tasty feast, the whole event lasting a few hours. This is what I've noticed, and it was very much the same in my friends houses as well.

  1. Potato chips (or crisps to the British) and olives are put on the table to nibble at before the meal. You share your surprise with the Spanish family when the children have eaten 3 huge bags of chips then don’t want their lunch.
  2. The women will be stressed working over and serving the food. If you are a man you accept it is wrong to ask to help.
  3. After finishing your starter and main course, you eagerly await your second main course.
  4. If there is anything different being served than one of the 15 traditional Spanish dishes, everybody panics and you wonder just why the leading lady is trying to offend her husband.
  5. General talk at the table is gossip about somebody named Juan or Jose. As half the people you all know are called either of these names it becomes a fun game for everybody to find out which one they are talking about. You know? the one that is always with his dog who is Maria's cousin. Which Maria? You know Maria with Jose, Which Jose? You know Jose, the cousin of Juan.

Beach in Mallorca and beach in England

Human Communication and greetings

There are even differences in the way how we greet each other in social situations.

  1. In your homeland you have gotten that getting on a train or bus and declaring in a loud voice ‘Hello, how is everybody?’ actually scares people instead of being conceived as friendly.
  2. You call your friends by the terms ‘friend, kid, lad, youngster, king, queen or beautiful’.
  3. You shout ‘Wep’ at people you know as you pass them in a car.
  4. There is nothing wrong with saying ‘who is it?’ as your first words when answering the telephone.
  5. There is no need to say please or thank you when asking somebody to do you a favour is there? Just a simple ‘pass the salt’ is fine.
  6. You find it rude if somebody doesn’t give you two kisses when meeting, unless it is man to man.

Thanks for visiting

I hope you had fun reading through my page, and even better if you have lived in Spain I hope you could relate to most of my quotes.

See you again soon!

I'd love to hear from you and your opinions

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    • peterb6001 profile image
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      Peter Badham 3 years ago from England

      @julieannbrady: Wine at 9am can be fun if you like a siesta. Come and have one with me to find out :)

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 3 years ago

      On our visit to the Southern coast of Spain, we found it interesting how some sights closed up for afternoon siesta. Can't imagine wine at 9am!

    • peterb6001 profile image
      Author

      Peter Badham 3 years ago from England

      @MariannesWhims: I'm pleased you found it interesting!

    • MariannesWhims profile image

      Marianne Gardner 3 years ago from Pacific NW, USA

      I found the cultural differences interesting. I've never been to Spain or England. i found out some things I'd never know. Good page, great photo of your sons having a good time.

    • peterb6001 profile image
      Author

      Peter Badham 3 years ago from England

      @norma-holt: Thank you skiesgreen, I'm pleased you enjoyed my page. I've had plenty of time to get to know them very well!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 3 years ago

      You certainly did a great job representing the Spanish culture. Very enjoyable. Well done,

    • peterb6001 profile image
      Author

      Peter Badham 3 years ago from England

      @Merrci: Thank you Merrci, it is a wonderful place that still occupies a large part of my heart. It's hard to know which country I think of as home now really. I'm glad you enjoyed it, thanks for taking the time to read :)

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Very fun to read. It's great you got to be in the culture, rather than just passing through. It sounds like a wonderful experience.

    • peterb6001 profile image
      Author

      Peter Badham 3 years ago from England

      @Lynda Makara: Thank you Lynda :)

    • Lynda Makara profile image

      Lynda Makara 3 years ago from California

      I think you've captured it well.