Let’s talk culture shocks in Spain

(You can find the version in Spanish of this article on my colleague’s Lourdes blog El Aula de Lourdes.)


When I arrvied in Spain, I went through a period of constant cultural shocks.

Not because I’m a native Spanish speaker means that I didn’t experience them.

The way I remember them, is that they were exponentially bigger than the ones I had when in Ireland and Germany, even.

It may have been that I was older when I arrived here and, especially, I had kids with me.

I do think that my having a family had a huge impact: it wasn’t only me I had to focus on.

In fact, I was the last person in my mind to take care of, but that’s another story.

Let’s dive into the cultural shocks that I experienced, both negative and, why not, also the positive ones, bearing in mind that we were moving from Germany.


Children are welcomed everywhere. That was a huge difference with Germany. We could go to restaurants with three children. We found parks on every corner. People say hello to them on the street. I had the feeling that children can be children here.


Times. These drove me crazy for a while. Since we arrived in the Summer, I soon realised that children played outdoors till all hours of the night, because there was light until very, very late. That’s great, you would think. Not when your kids are very small, they have school the next day and you’re trying to put them to sleep at a decent hour.

Worry not. You end up getting used to it, but it took me a while.

Another big timing issue I had were dinners. People here eat very late at night. It’s just something we still haven’t gotten used to.

Well… we do sometimes eat late at night nowadays, but my kids are older now and can handle going to bed later.


Bureaucracy. Not that I was expecting less of it, but better organised or nicer clerks. Ha! I’ve said it all.


Size of the supermarkets. Massive, compared to German supermarkets. I once told my husband that I was going to go grocery shopping just to get my 10,000 steps for the day.


The cost of food. Eating out is cheap, going to the supermarket not so much. Still, it was very nice to find (very) varied, affordable and yummy fruit in the shops, which was not always true where I was living before.


Weather. Sun and blue skies. That, after having lived through six months of grey skies and snow in May, it was breeze. However, you still learn that sun and blue skies don’t always translate into warm weather.


Have you experienced any of them? Send me an email and let me know how your experience has been.

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