Culture and way of life

The differences

Culture and way of life

Spanish way of life and culture differs enormously from that in the UK. There are various character and attitude traits that can seem a little blunt and even offensive to people from other cultures, particularly the British. However, it is absolutely essential to remember that this is who and how they are, they are not offending each other with their touching, barging and lack of queueing, so in moving to their country the best thing you can do is to adapt yourself to work with them.


The first thing to strike me was the difference in the daily ´timetable´. Everything happens a lot later than at home and this can have a short term effect on how you feel. With the typical working day starting at 10am, lunch and a siesta between 2 and 4 and many people not leaving the office until 8 in the evening, you do not tend to get to bed until very late. After a full working week or three you can find yourself suffering from what I have dubbed ´long-term jetlag´. Try to go to bed as early as you can, at least for the first few weeks while your body adjusts to the differences. Also, if at all possible, get into the habit of taking a short siesta. This is a strange concept to get used to but will certainly help you to adapt to the Valencian lifestyle. If you arrive in summer you will also find the heat tiring which will inevitable add to the lethargic feeling. These feelings do only last a few weeks so don’t let the idea deter you from coming to this fantastic city.

Secondly, do not expect to find anything but cafés and restaurants open during your lunch hour (or 3). The post office’s hours are 10-2, banks open between 8.30 and 9am and close at 2pm sharp and very few supermarkets stay open during the siesta break either. So, if working full-time, the weekly shop needs to be done in the evening or on Saturday, you will need time out of work to get stamps to send correspondence to foreign countries as they are not available in the papelerías (news agents) and bank visits are inevitably made early in the morning. A routine that is certainly different from what we are used to, but easy to get used to after just a short while. The upside to all of this is that most employers tend to be quite lenient with start and finish times to accommodate your needs. With all this and the lack of reliable bus timetables the boss tends not to complain if you arrive 15 minutes late (not that you should quote me and use this as an excuse!).

Macho attitude

A warning to all and any women looking to move to Spain - the macho attitude is omnipresent amongst the young and the old throughout the country. Whether the man is 18 or 80 years old, it makes not an ounce of a difference. If you choose to wear less clothes when the weather heats up, expect comments, stares, wolf whistles and even barking as you walk the city streets. Most of this is harmless testosterone fuelled banter but it can get rather wearing at times. The best advice is to ignore them, do not look at them or smile and especially don’t retaliate. This kind of behaviour does seem to be appreciated and encouraged by Spanish women so the men are not entirely to blame. It does not have to pose a real problem, you just need to be aware and learn how to deal with it. Like anywhere in the world these days, it is ill advised to walk the streets alone after dark. Every city has its darker corners and Valencia is no exception. Be sensible and have your wits about you, take one of the remarkably cheap taxis that run around the city 24/7 but don’t let it stop you enjoying the many delights the city has to offer.

This article has been submitted by Suzanne Bailey for
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Other comments

  • Valencia city, 05 May 2009 Reply


    ¿are you sure you can not walk alone in Valencia? and in London? and in LA? and in Mexico DF? sure Valencia is more safety than all of the other one. Spanish people is so respect and usually you don't have any problem. Take it easy, we are really a good country to live for all people. welcome

  • spanish way of life, 26 June 2011 Reply


    "The best advice is to ignore them, do not look at them or smile and especially don’t retaliate. This kind of behaviour does seem to be appreciated and encouraged by Spanish women so the men are not entirely to blame." OMG!!! YOU DON'T HAVE A CLUE!!you should be better informed before writing articles without any kind of logic!!

  • bc, 05 September 2012 Reply

    it is not true

    i am sure you have not come to spain a long time ago. Now things are no as used to be, timetables are more flexible and man are no as you described any longer.
    sorry about it