Before arriving to Spain, I was warned about time. There was one piece of advice that was particularly interesting to me. It was, ‘don’t arrive to class 5 mins before it starts because it’s pointless’. It honestly couldn’t have been more true! But, I didn’t know any better and didn’t take it into consideration.
Being on Time
In comparison to the US, the concept of time in Spain isn’t as valued. I learned that the hard way my first week of classes. Coming from a culture, where ‘time is money’ I would take the earliest train to school just so I could make it to class 10 or 5 minutes before it would start – out of respect for my professor (the usual). Well it would be almost everyday that my own professor would arrive 10 mins late!
It was unbelievable, and when if my professor wasn’t late there would always be a student walking in 25 mins with no sign of embarrassment. In much simpler terms, it’s completely normal to be late as long as you have a valid excuse.
Time to Eat!
If you thought the idea of time is bad in the university setting. The time it took for me to get used to the eating and sleeping schedule was worse. I remember back at SU when I made sure to never schedule a class before 10am. This was because I would need at least 8 hours of sleep if I would continually fall asleep at 1 am every night. The sad part is that I now wake up every morning during the week at 6:45am, so that I’ll have time to get dressed, eat and take the bus, all before 9am. By 11am I get hungry because in the US that’s lunch time. Well, in beautiful Spain lunch is typically between 2 and 3pm (horrible).
After lunch, everyone takes a nap (Siesta) for about 2 hours. Since being here I’ve only done it twice. I never really been much of a nap person. After waking up from your nap, you usually eat a snack to keep you a live until dinner time. To my surprise my first full day in Alicante, dinner was served at 9pm! Until this day, I actually like having dinner late because it puts me to sleep faster.
Vamos a Quedar…
If you have plans with someone don’t expect for them to be there right then. Leave some leverage time because who knows they might’ve missed the bus, forgot they had to work on a project, or simply forgot to meet up. This is something that’s not really much of a culture shock for me personally.
As I mentioned in my previous post, nightlife doesn’t actually begin until 11pm or 12am. With great company, drinks and music, the party doesn’t end until 7am!
Lastly, I guess out of all the things I’ve mentioned, this one is a bit of a downer. On Sundays all stores are closed even the pharmacy! In Spain, Sunday is the day for everyone to stay in, relax and mentally prepare for the new week. If you walk outside there will most likely be a few restaurants open but no shopping stores. The streets appear a little deserted and quiet.
In the end, I think it’s okay to say that Spanish people live a more relaxed life than Americans.