What NOT to do in Spain! I’ve lived here for 8 years with Yoly my Spanish wife, and I’ve learned a lot of the do’s and don’ts of this culture. These rules will really help you get in sync with the locals and not make any major mistakes! Venga, let’s go! 🥝
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Spain is a complex country! It’s also a pretty easy going one. But there are certain things that you just don’t want to get wrong. And here they are!
11. Don’t go OTT on please and thank you.
In Spanish we just don’t use the words as much. We are more likely to work ‘please’ and ’thank you’ into the tone of how we speak, or by tweaking the words (such as adding “ito” to the end of a word).
10. Don’t put bread on your plate.
In Spain, you always leave your bread beside your plate on the table. It sites beside your cutlery, because it kind of is a piece of cutlery.
9. Don’t eat with your hand under the table.
I grew up with no elbows on the table. But here in Spain we also have the rule that you should have your hands above the table at all times. Because you might have a knife??
8. Don’t offer guests a beer at 5pm
Because we eat lunch and dinner later, beer o’clock is usually about 8pm… not 5pm.
7. Don’t help with the dishes after parties.
It’s just not something that’s done here. At the end of a party or dinner party, you might help tidy up slightly, but you don’t help do the dishes.
6. Don’t be a ‘pesado’ in social situations.
Chill out! Don’t ask people what their job is straight away when you meet them in a social setting and don’t expect people to cut to the chase when telling a story – we take our time here!
5. Don’t misinterpret loud conversations.
When Yoly speaks with her mother on the phone, it can get heated. But they’re not arguing – it’s just that conversations here often sound more intense.
4. Don’t generalise about Spain.
This is a highly regional country. So don’t assume that every region of Spain has the same language, customs or food.
3. Don’t call Catalan a dialect of Spanish.
Catalan is its own language – and don’t get that wrong (especially when speaking to a Catalan)
2. Don’t used ‘usted’ willy nilly.
Here in Spain we’re pretty informal and so don’t use “usted” unless we’re speaking with older people or in very formal situations.
1. Don’t mention the civil war casually.
The Spanish civil war and the dictatorship is a really complex topic, and still an open wound in Spain. So wait until you know someone pretty well before diving into the topic.
WHO ARE WE? 🥝
Hola, Spain lovers! We’re James and Yoly. James is a New Zealander, and Yoly is from Spain. And we both live in Madrid. This channel is all about giving you a local insight into life in Spain, and helping you experience this country like a local when you come to visit (or live!). If that sounds like your kind of thing, bienvenido!
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