Becoming a Spaniard in 6 Steps: Spanish habits you are guaranteed to adopt

Those who move to Spain, or buy a second home there, will change willy-nilly. All the facets that tickle the imagination of visitors will slowly integrate into your everyday life. Depending on your ability to adapt, the adjustment is either abrupt or as slick as a sandwich taken by two bears. Before you know it, you’ll be trading your hahaha for yaya and have an informed opinion on whether chorizo belongs in paella or not. One thing is for sure: Spain makes a different person out of you, in a good way. A roadmap to becoming a Spaniard.

1. Take time to eat

In Belgium, life moves at lightning speed for many people. In the morning, you pour through your barely chewed pistolet with a cup of coffee while combing your hair and tying your laces. In the afternoon, you quickly snack on a few sandwiches between tasks at work. And in the evening, with your last effort, you just manage to shove a frozen meal into the microwave before you capsize in your seat.

We make a bit of a caricature of it here, but there is no denying that the Spanish daily schedule is a lot less hectic. The Spanish know the art of enjoying food and drink. And they take their time extensively. By ten o’clock we took a break for a café con leche and a piece of baguette with some olive oil on top. Afternoon at cafe for a long lunch. The most important meal of the day should not be rushed. And that may well include a beer. In Spain, it is a sin to hurriedly munch a sandwich at the computer.

Freshly walked in footage of a Spanish lunch.

Especially on weekends, lunch is allowed to spill out: get together with friends or family for aperitifs, with some olives or slices of jamón on the side. Three hours of dining is then no exception. You will find that in Spain you automatically keep your legs under the table longer.

2. Don’t shy away from physical contact

Not that you should immediately twist your new neighbor’s tongue, but Spaniards do touch each other more easily than Belgians. Shaking hands is not enough when meeting someone — two kisses on the cheek is more common. And then it does not matter that you are sitting the person in question for the first time. An encounter between two men is often accompanied by a firm pat on the back. As a native, don’t try anything else especially: it will only throw the Spaniard off guard.

Personal space does not exist here. Or at least is so small that science has not yet determined it, even with the most advanced microscopes. On the bus or in the subway, at the café or in the restaurant: Spaniards are not comfortable with being crammed close together. In tapas bars, they stand like sardines in a can eating at the counter. It’s like Tomorrowland during a Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike performance. Don’t be put off by that – those crowds just indicate it’s a good tapas bar – and feel free to squeeze in. ‘No room’ is a concept that doesn’t exist in Spain.

Sardines in a can: the dream of many Spaniards.

3. Blow out at the coast in summer

Especially in the Spanish interior, life comes to a halt in August. Stores close their doors, restaurants close and the only traffic consists of tumbleweeds rolling by. What do you want: temperatures run so high in summer that most natives go to chill on the beach or at the nearest pool. Many Spaniards have a vacation home on the Costa’s — or family or friends to visit.

As far as we’re concerned, you don’t have to be a Spaniard to go blowing off on a Spanish coast in August – or any month of the year. More to the point: we are ready to make your Spanish dream come true. For example, how about the following raisins we are fishing out of the real estate porridge this month? Each of them luxurious residences for those who want to turn their backs on Belgium. There is something for every taste and budget. Nothing to your liking? You will find a lot more in our real estate overview.

4. Feel free to cross the line

You may have once pushed for the bus in England. Then you may have experienced the excessive discipline of the English: “After you.” “No, after now.” Joining in a nice, straight line, the Spaniards don’t do that. No geometry, but chaos theory.

“Uh, where does the line start?”

More so, front stabbing seems like a national sport. Even old ladies will shoot past you on all sides as soon as you lose focus for a moment. No, you are far from home if you think a line is respected. And you are already in Spain anyway. The only solution: throw your elbows into the fray and join the craziness. The country’s wisdom, the country’s honor.

5. Increase the volume of your voice

Yes, it’s a cliché, but one with a famous ground of truth: Spaniards are loud. Perhaps there are also many quietly controlled Spaniards who speak in a whisper, but, uh, at least we haven’t encountered them yet. And we don’t just base it on our own perceptions. According to findings by the World Health Organization (WHO), Spain is the second loudest country in the world. Only the Japanese make even more noise.

I am going to Japan and taking with me: a megaphone. And to Spain best too.

Spanish restaurants are buzzing with noise. It looks like parliament during an animated debate. Every adult at the table tries to drown out the rest, while a pack of seemingly feral children play tag while howling, knocking over chairs and benches in the process. On top of that, TVs are blaring loudly in all public places. Even if no one is watching, Spaniards find solace in the hum in the background. Therefore, never try to turn off a TV unless you want to incur the wrath of all present.

Rather, raise the volume of your voice yourself and participate in the daily shouting match.

6. Set your clock to Spanish time

To be clear, there is no time difference between Brussels and Madrid. Rather, we mean that it is best to adapt quickly to the Spanish mentality: (almost) nothing is so important that it cannot be postponed. And don’t do now what you can also do later, or tomorrow, or next week. This is true in bureaucracy, but also at restaurants. Just try to get the attention of a waiter who is trying hard to mistake you for air. At the supermarket checkout, it is best to spend triple the time you do in Belgium, because the cashier is guaranteed to want to hear at length about the grandchildren of the 14 people waiting in front of you.

You can rush into this, but it makes little sense. You will only get frustrated by it. Rather, look on the bright side. Here people still take time and effort to have a chat. While in Belgium, you don’t even know the first names of your neighbors. And the fact that practically no one ever arrives on time also relieves you of the obligation to permanently count seconds. Relax, sit back and order another sangria. Welcome to Spain.



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