Adapting to Life in Spain: Be Prepared to be Unprepared

Published on 17/11/2006 in Relocating to Spain

Getting Organised

We plan, we organise, and we schedule parties and celebrations months in advance. Us Brits we like to be prepared and we like to be kept informed of the latest. So where does this fit in with living in Spain? It doesn’t but don’t worry I’m not going to harp on about the old mañana cliché. You see the difference is in Spain, especially in the South, unless it is a life or death issue, there is no urgency. Things still get done, people still celebrate their birthdays on their actual birthday and not later and ferias are organised and take place on their planned date.

Ask Questions

With regards to daily life and the system in general, people know instinctively what to do, where to go and what to bring. For example, if you need to visit the town hall for whatever reason, unless you ask what specific documentation is required, you will not be told. In order to make life easier, you need to get into the habit of asking questions as commonplace knowledge to the Spanish is foreign and new to us.

Assumed Knowledge

Likewise, don’t expect your child’s school (state) to send home a list of public holiday dates as you should automatically know this. And, if you don’t it is taken for granted that you will find out from one of the mothers at the school gates. Such knowledge is assumed so the Spanish won’t consider the need for lists of obvious information for the British and other nationalities.

Consider Your Own Expectations

If you consider your own cultural expectations; we know that if you need to buy an envelope and send a parcel you need to go to the post office. Although, this might seem that the most obvious concept in the world to us, anybody who lives in the small Spanish town where I live will have bought their envelopes in the Tobacco shop before going to the post office.

Constant Information

Lots of expats complain that they aren’t sent reminders, community meetings are called at too short notice and so on. However, you have to adapt and realise that in Spain you are not spoon fed information on a constant basis. You will be told at the last minute but don’t you prefer this to being bombarded with reminders for months in advance? Maybe, maybe not!

Change Your Approach

It can get frustrating as it is not what you are used to and at times you can feel like you’re on a wild goose chase. However, once you adopt a more casual approach to life in Spain, you will really begin to enjoy it.

Written by: Susan Pedalino

About the author:

Women In Spain

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