Five Spanish things that drive foreigners crazy! (and how to overcome them!)

© By Abi Nobes, Marketing and Communication Department

As a Brit-abroad, I’ve experienced somewhat of a culture shock upon arriving in Spain! These are five of the biggest surprises that were in store for me… Do you agree?

1.Eating dinner at 10 o’clock at night

I have been here for 3 weeks and I still haven’t been able to adjust to this. I am not a night owl, I’m a morning person, so eating dinner at 10 o’clock at night seems crazy! So far I have eaten once at 9:30 (it’s the latest I could manage), and that was only because I’d been snacking all day, trying to peg myself out until 10. I get too hungry to wait that long!

Solution: Each week I try to eat 15 minutes later, so far I’ve gone from 6pm to 6:45… it’s an improvement!

2. They don’t sell fresh milk, only long-life milk

As an English person, and an avid tea drinker, I was astounded the first time I went to a Spanish supermarket and couldn’t find the milk. I stood there for a good 10 minutes, staring into the chiller cabinet, searching and searching for the fresh milk. It turns out they don’t have it here. The Spanish don’t really use as much milk as we do in England, so it’s not worth selling fresh milk as people won’t use it before it goes out of date.

Solution: they sell long-life milk, panic over!

3. The adverts on the telly

In every country you have adverts on the telly, but in Spain they seem to take it to a whole other level. I was watching the news the other day and they had the introductory theme tune and they listed the headlines… and then they had a 10 minute break…

From what I have seen (I haven’t had much time to really watch much telly) they seem to have 10 minutes of the programme, followed by 10 minutes of adverts. It’s a lot of adverts!

Solution: patience, a lot of it!

4. People in Spain never sleep!

I need my sleep. Here in Spain, they don’t seem to need it. They start work for 9, work through ‘til 1 or 2, have a siesta, work through until 6 or 7pm. Eat dinner at 10pm, stay up until about midnight… or later…how do they do it??

Solution: Definitely have a siesta!

5. People who assume you are Spanish

I’m guessing I look fairly Spanishy? Because lots of people seem to assume I am Spanish, which I am going to take as a compliment, but it is problematic at times.

This has happened to me quite a lot, but the funniest time was on my second day. This lady assumed I was a local and was asking me for directions. It was my second day, I didn’t know where anything was. I apologised to her in Spanish and explained to her that I was English and I’d only just arrived here, so I didn’t know and couldn’t help her. She didn’t like my response… She didn’t believe I wasn’t Spanish, she thought I was being rude not wanting to help her. She then started shouting at me… I still couldn’t help her!

Solution: be blonde or walk around with a camera (then they’ll think you’re a tourist. Once you’ve been here a while it’s easier to help people, so I wouldn’t worry too much, take it as a compliment!

In conclusion, when you move somewhere new there are always new and unusual things which we are not used to. But eventually you adapt and get used to them, it just takes time!

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