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9 Cultural Things You Learn After Living in Spain

Pablo del Campo

Spain, land of the sun, the Mediterranean, and streets filled with people. If you’re planning to spend your Erasmus in Spain, here are 9 cultural things you’ll learn after living here.

1. There is a ton of kissing involved

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Spaniards love to kiss. Even if you have never met someone, the normal way to greet someone is with a little tap on each cheek (no actual kissing is involved). A kiss is mandatory when you say hello, when you say goodbye, but my favourite time happens in the middle of a conversation, when people realise they haven’t introduced themselves yet: “by the way, I’m…” *muah muah*

2. Having lunch and dinner without leaving the table

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The best part about having a meal in Spain is the sobremesa, that time spent after finishing your food, simply talking and hanging out with family or friends and enjoying each other’s company. During lunch, it’s common to lose track of time (with a shot of orujo in hand) and only realise once dinnertime arrives. ¡Salud!

3. Clubs not closing at 2am

Seems crazy? Not for the Spanish. By the time most Europeans head home, the Spanish are still arriving at the club. Basically, going back before 3am isn’t going out; it’s going to dinner.

4. Calling friends and strangers “uncle” and “aunt”

Why? Who knows, but for the Spaniards, tías and tíos are, apart from the siblings of their parents, their friends, and even any stranger they talk to. The first time you call someone tío might seem strange, but after a while you won’t be able to stop.

5. Everyone thinking their tortilla de patatas deserves a Michelin Star

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Just like in football, there is a big rivalry with the tortilla española. The Spaniards prefer Madrid or Barça, tortilla with onion or without onion, but above all, they’re defined by one thing: being proud of their own creation. Everyone presumes to make the second best potato omelet. The first is the one made by their mothers.

6. Hanging out on the street all. the. time.

Life is done outside. Going out for tapas or having a drink is the most generalised excuse, but any other is perfectly acceptable. Nothing sounds better than the, “hey, are you in for a caña when we finish?”.

7. Napping aka the siesta

Taking a nap after eating is an unparalleled pleasure. The siesta only brings positive things: it restores strength to continue working, it improves the skin, and it fights stress. Benefits everywhere!

8. Choking on grapes

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During New Year’s, Spaniards eat twelve grapes (one per each month of the year) at each stroke to make sure to have a good year. No one eats them all, but everyone kisses their whole family and wish a happy new year before carrying on with the party.

9. Not singing the national anthem

You only need to sing lo, lo, lo during the World or European Cups. We don’t need words, just feeling. Spain isn’t meant to be described; it’s meant to be felt!


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Can you think of any other cultural things that are typically Spanish? Let us know in the comments. And remember: if you need student accommodation, you’ll find the perfect student home on Uniplaces.

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