Spanish Norms that Aren’t So Norm to Me

After a couple of weeks in Spain, I have picked up on a few customs that are quite different than customs in the states. So, I compiled a list of things that are very normal here in  Spain that are a little out of the norm for me. Here ya go ladies and gents!

Dos Besos: When you are introduced to someone, saying hello or goodbye, it is customary to give one kiss on each cheek (dos besos).  There’s two ways that this normal greeting goes for me… and they are both awkward.  First situation: I get surprised by the kisses when someone just comes right up to my face to say hello.  I like my personal bubble and that personal bubble isn’t really a thing here. I usually just air kiss because I am surprised and receive two actually kisses. Second situation: I go in for a hand shake, which is totally normal in the States, and they look very confused at me. Imagine a scrunched brow, mouth kind of partially open and a spaghetti hand shake… that’s what I have been getting.  And by the time I realize I should have gone in for the dos besos… too late.  Already look like that awkward American.

Eating Schedule: If you haven’t heard about the different eating schedule in Spain, I am gonna explain it.  First breakfast: around 9:30-10:00 AM and very very light.  Expect a couple of slices of toast and maybe a coffee.  Unless you hoard fruit and stash it away for the bus ride to school like me.  Then you have fruit too! Second, lunch: around 2:00-3:00 PM and the biggest meal of the day.  Expect a big honking plate of food in front of you with side dishes on the table, fruit for dessert and seconds that your senora will sneak onto your plate when you’re not looking.  Lastly, dinner: served around 9:00-10:00 PM and pretty light compared to an American dinner. There are snacks in between meals. Sometimes drinks and tapas with friends during happy hour which goes from 4:00-9:00 PM (entonces estoy contenta por muchas horas).

Siesta: The people in the south of Spain take siestas, which are little naps in the afternoon.  My senora and senorita always takes a twenty minute nap on the couch after lunch.  I have only really taken one.  But, it was glorious.

No Tipping and the Price is the Price: There’s no hidden tax, there’s no ten to fifteen percent tip. Sometimes I will leave a Euro or two if they have really outstanding service just because I feel the urge to. But usually, the price on the menu is the price I pay. And, if you happen to be a young woman with a few other young women, you might even get a discount!  Or a twenty percent off VIP card so you keep coming back to the same tapas bar… Just depends.

Honking is a Necessity:  Honking your car horn isn’t seen as rude or something to only be used in emergencies.  It is a normal, constant part of life here.  Spaniards really like communicating. For them, this is another form of communication.  I kind of like this norm.  If I took this one back to the Midwest, I might get some rude looks on the road… I will ponder this as I sit in traffic on Dodge Street when I get home.

I will let you guys know if there is anything else that I need to add to the list. Hopefully I will get to tell you about more awkward encounters with Spaniards as I try to fit in with my red hair and freckles.  Happy Monday, folks!


Fiercely Freckled


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