Getting Close To The Spanish

Published on 26/11/2007 in Spanish Culture

Friends in SpainWhen you think of the Spanish you think of warm, good natured, open, approachable people. This is not untrue. In fact, if you have children in Spain you can pretty much relax as everyone will look out for them. In fact even when you are not in Spain and there are Spanish people around your children will be cared for.

We recently visited Disney Land Paris which was heaving with Spanish on holiday. It was raining and slippery and one of our five year old twins slipped over and within seconds there were concerned Spanish ladies running to her attention. The Spanish love children and will love yours too. In fact, if you want to make contact with the Spanish then forget about taking your dog for a walk. Instead, take your child or grandchild for a walk and if you don’t have either, then get pregnant fast as it is a sure way to make acquaintances.

When I last visited the UK I got chatting to a lady on the bus who was telling me about her plans to move to Spain. She was so enthusiastic that I didn’t burst her bubble when she said “When I get there I am going to learn Spanish and make friends with all the locals”. Now, it depends on what her definition of a friend is but in the traditional British sense this was not going to happen for her anytime soon.

For a start, she hadn’t even started to learn Spanish and surely to have a friendship with someone you need to be able to converse. With beginners level of Spanish you can only get as far as finding out people’s names, their ages, their likes and dislikes, if you are lucky. When you consider the range of subjects that are discussed by “new” friends in English you can appreciate how making friends with the Spanish could be quite a challenge.

Although, the English person has everything to gain such as getting to know the culture and improving their Spanish, there’s not much in it for the respective Spanish person apart from getting frustrated taking 20 minutes to get something across that would normally take 2 minutes!

Just like you do in the back home, the Spanish lead busy lives and have their own daily business to get on with. The majority of the Spanish that you come across will not be on the look out for new friends since the likelihood is they will have everyone that they need nearby. Their most important friends are their families and again, I really noticed this in Disney Land. The Spanish don’t holiday with just their immediate family or with friends as we do. Whole families go away together including grandparents in big parties of ten plus.

If you are dedicated enough and you manage to get your Spanish to a decent level, you can make what we, British, would consider to be acquaintances. Your Spanish neighbours would be your first port of call for this type of conversation. Women with children of school age might ask one of the mothers outside the school a related question and from this the relationship would evolve into one when they acknowledge each other on the street and at the park. However, it is very rare to see British/Spanish friends going shopping together or going out for girly spa days and lunches unless they are relatively young, integrated into Spanish culture and possibly with a Spanish partner.

So, although they are warm and laid back, you can rarely get close as they have their families for what we have friendships for. To avoid disappointment, the best advice is to be open to friendships with people from all nationalities in Spain and don’t be snobby about having British friends. In fact, your fellow expats can be a very useful support network. Don’t expect the Spanish to be falling over themselves to invite you back for a coffee as they have their own lives and agendas.


Written by: Susan Pedalino

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Women In Spain




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Comments:

Sue Sullivan said:
11 August 2013 @ 13:13

I think all the contributors are right! I lived overseas for 11 years, including nearly 2 years in Tenerife. I think in essence it can be harder to make friends as you get older, regardless of where you live, as you are so busy with work and family responsibilities. In a way the stronger the family structure the harder it can feel for outsiders to penetrate that, but that is true for any country. In fact, people who have a good relationship with their family will make great friends, even if they are busy. I learnt Spanish fast when I was in Tenerife through necessity as no one where I lived spoke English but was still not fluent enough for a natural, flowing conversation. Even so I always felt that my efforts, however flawed, were really appreciated as was my enjoyment and interest in the country and the culture. My children who were quite little then were treated like gold and the first words they learnt were 'guapa' and 'guapo'. As an outsider anywhere you need to be resilient, self-reliant and confident when living in a new country. You will get knock backs sometimes anywhere in the world for whatever reason but you can't let that stop you. A friend is someone who is there for you and cares about you as well as enjoying your company and vice versa. I don't think you can afford to care about their nationality otherwise you will be very lonely. The Spanish are warm, happy, funny people who love life (with the exception of shop assistants in El Corte Ingles who have always seemed really irritable and stuck up to me) and that is a great basis for acquaintance to turn into friendship.


Elliot Arkoh Peter said:
06 April 2013 @ 11:31

yes indeed people of Spain are really good people.In fact most of them are true Christians and have a sense of humor.God bless the land and the people of Spain.e-mail is p.arkoh@yahoo.com and any interested Spanish lady can mail me


Anh said:
14 November 2012 @ 03:14

my email is diamond.anhtran@gmail.com, Nice to see you(Mario...)! I am from Asia will be in Spain in Dec 2012, hope to have a friendship with all of you! Thanks & regards! Anh



laudric maxwell said:
04 September 2012 @ 04:45




Greg said:
28 June 2012 @ 11:26

But making true friend is always hard. It takes time to build up relationships. Iv been in spain for 8 weeks now and im out with spanish friends most nights of the week, they help me with my spanish and none of them want me to leave, i now also have a spanish girlfriend. If i can achieve this in 2 months then it's possible. Depends who you are, who your 'to be' friends are. Meet people at the pool, spanish classes, get urself a local bar to hangout in, offer something to them, invite them over for a meal once youv made good enough friends, jnvite them to the beach or something to show your not just relying on them and you being in their life is good for them. Thats how you make friends. Best advice i was given is....everytime you are invited out....go even if you just want to go to bed or dont want to, something good always coms out of it. Not all spanish people live in huge families btw, ur neighbours could be a new couple to the area or a lonley old lady who will be glad you say hola and after time you can make her laugh and be friends, anyone thinking of going to spain, i hope you just make the most of it, maybe it will workout or not, i hated it to start but im happy now


Greg said:
28 June 2012 @ 11:25

But making true friend is always hard. It takes time to build up relationships. Iv been in spain for 8 weeks now and im out with spanish friends most nights of the week, they help me with my spanish and none of them want me to leave, i now also have a spanish girlfriend. If i can achieve this in 2 months then it's possible. Depends who you are, who your 'to be' friends are. Meet people at the pool, spanish classes, get urself a local bar to hangout in, offer something to them, invite them over for a meal once youv made good enough friends, jnvite them to the beach or something to show your not just relying on them and you being in their life is good for them. Thats how you make friends. Best advice i was given is....everytime you are invited out....go even if you just want to go to bed or dont want to, something good always coms out of it. Not all spanish people live in huge families btw, ur neighbours could be a new couple to the area or a lonley old lady who will be glad you say hola and after time you can make her laugh and be friends, anyone thinking of going to spain, i hope you just make the most of it, maybe it will workout or not, i hated it to start but im happy now


prince said:
27 December 2011 @ 22:13

Spanish people are simply the best. Can't wait to have a spanish friend. After spending 2 weeks in tenerife and drove all around the lsland, l feel like relocating to spain for good!!!

Gratius



Mario said:
09 November 2011 @ 17:22

Hi everyone,
I´m Mario, I´m half American and Spanish and have lived in Spain for the past 15 years. I just want to say briefly that I hate to agree with the writer of this column. To a foreigner the Spaniards may seem friendly, loud, open and amiable but it is very difficult for it get any further from that point. What I mean to say is that making friends here is not that easy. Sure you can make a hell lot of "social friends" or people to hang out with, laugh and have a beer but real friends forget it. It´s been a great life and great country but I think I wanna move. Kind regards, Mario



abandonship said:
09 May 2011 @ 11:36

OH DEAR WHERE YOU BEEN THE SPANISH ARE THE FRENDLIEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD EVEN PEOPLE I NEVER SEEN BEFORE GREAT ME IN THE STREET


Rosa said:
20 January 2011 @ 19:19

Dear Susan;
First of all, I want to say sorry... My English is not very good, but I hope you understand me...

Yes, I'm Spanish... And I'm not agree with you. If I generalize (obviuosly it's the only way to talk about the whole country), we, Spanish, are really friendly, open minded, warm, affectionate... We speak with everybody, even if we don't know them (and mainly in the South of my country, in Andalucía).

You just have to realize how many Spanish are in England... Working, studing... I love British, and many other people do, although in this case, we can say it's difficult to make friendship with you, British, only because we have a different character: we are too open, cheerful, and you are more serious, let say "proper", shy and introverted. So we need to speak fluent English if we want to be your friends.

If this happen in Spain, I pretty sure you don't have problems... What's more, we like British people... We don't mind if they don't understand very much Spanish... We try to solve the situation through self-confident, gestures, making you laugh, ...

If I had the pleasure to meet you, I would show you what I'm talking about.



Graham said:
19 November 2010 @ 14:05

Se me puede engañar sin embargo. Como hablo bien de los españoles y muchos no se dan cuenta que no soy español! :)


Graham said:
19 November 2010 @ 14:02

This sounds like a very American perspective on the Spanish people!
Spanish people are naturally hesitant to befriend Americans considering how cruel and unfriendly the USA has been to Spain and the Spanish speaking world.
Us English however have no problem making friends with the Spanish people as we have a deep mutual respect for one another!
Graham :)


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