Generally, the Spanish are a warm, friendly lot that embraces visitors with open arms. There are, however, a few traits foreigners have that can make a Spaniard feel downright uncomfortable.
Wearing the wrong clothes
It would appear that in Spain there is an unwritten code that determines what you can wear and when you can wear it. Winter clothes must be worn until the clocks go back in late March regardless of whether or not we get a warm spell in early spring. Meanwhile, shorts must be kept hidden away until the height of summer or reserved solely for the beach.
You will never ever see a Spaniard walking without wearing some kind of shoes. Even at the beach, they will wear flip flops right up until they reach the water’s edge. Walking around without your shoes on opens you up to a lesson on health and safety.
Most people in Spain never tip and when they do it is usually just a few coins when they feel as if they have had exemplary service. One reason Americans might have the reputation of being show-offs is that it is normal in the United States to leave what is considered to be a decent tip. Many service industry workers in the USA are paid less than minimum wage and rely on their tips to pay the bills. In Spain that is not the case with people relying only on their hourly salary.
Having too much to drink
In a country that seems to have a bar on every corner, you would think that Spaniards were used to seeing people who have had too much to drink. Alcohol plays a big part in everyday Spanish life, but unlike northern European cultures, the Spanish do not feel the need to binge drink, preferring instead to take their time over a tapa or two.
Being too polite
At first, it might seem strange as Spaniards never seem to say please or thank you. The truth is they just don’t and when they hear foreigners doing it just seems strange to them.
Arriving on time
While it may be considered bad manners in some countries to keep people waiting, in Spain, it’s a common occurrence providing you are not too late for an appointment. You will never hear a Spaniard apologise about being less than a half hour late and they will definitely look perplexed if you make a big deal about it should they not be on time.
Asking if they still live with their parents
Being surprised when someone in their 30’s or 40’s tells you they still live at home. In Spain, children stay at home until they get married and even then they return home for mama’s cooking at lunchtime. Also, you can forget about going to University in another part of the country, as the school down the road will do just fine. This situation has also been exasperated by the last recession which has left many young people unable to get a mortgage.
What side was your family on during the Civil War?
Despite having finished nearly 80 years ago, the Spanish Civil war is a very sensitive subject. Following Franco’s death in 1975, Spain tried to close the book on what had occurred by offering an Amnesty as a way of forgiving those who had committed some unspeakable crimes. Bring the subject up at your own risk, but we would strongly advise against it.
Talking about Gibraltar
To avoid a conversation you wished you had never started don’t ask a Spaniard his opinion about Gibraltar. Generally, most Spaniards could care less about Britain claiming ownership of the “Rock” but there are others who like to use it for political gain.