Living In Spain: 4 Cultural Differences Between Spain And The United Kingdom

Moving to, or visiting, Spain? Here are some things you might want to pay attention to! When writing this post, I really didn’t want to go into the typical stereotypes between Spain and the UK so the following content is based on my own observations living in Barcelona. I got the idea from one of my older post’s on things to know about the United Kingdom which went down a treat so I’ll link it here for you to read later: Moving To The UK? -The 10 Cultural Things You NEED To Know From A Brit Herself

When I say dinner is served late, I really mean LATE.

The cultural differences between eating times in Spain and the United Kingdom took me by immediate surprise. I’m not so much talking about eating out, but more so eating at someone’s home. You see, typically in the UK dinner would probably be anywhere between 5-8 pm. In Spain, you’ll definitely get a few giggles if you start tucking into a huge meal at 6 pm. In all my years living in Spain, I have never had a meal for dinner earlier than 8pm. For someone who usually eats at 5:30 pm in the UK, this was quite the cultural shock.

You’ll also find that food spots and bars stay open much later in Spain. Yup, even little restaurants in Spanish villages. It goes without saying, there are plenty of advantages to this but if you are thinking of dropping by for a plate of food at 5pm you may find the restaurant to be closed until much later. Just a heads up!

Impossible to find bottles of squash – I wish I was joking!

Other names are dilute or concentrate. You know, the peach/strawberry/blackcurrant-infused liquid added to water for flavour. It really took me a whole trip to a specialist British store on the other side of Barcelona to find a bottle. The prices, as you can imagine, were more than triple but I was craving it! I actually remember explaining the concept to Spanish natives who were so confused when I was diluting a few drops of squash into my water bottle.

Top tip for any Brits craving food from the UK: Head to Primark. The snacks aisle has all sorts of competitively-priced confectionery that will remind you of home.

People can tell you are from the UK just by your makeup

It took me a while to find this out. I don’t usually stand out much in Spain as a tourist, as I am part-Mediterranean and speak Spanish daily. However, before I even say one word people can usually tell I am from the UK. Confused? So was I. As my native Spanish friends put it, girls from the UK tend to have more interest in dressing up and applying certain makeup techniques. Some examples are things like strong highlight on cheekbones or bold lash styles. Backcombed hair is also another tip-off, according to some of my students when I worked in a Spanish school. I do find it true that Spanish girls tend to wear minimal makeup, but whether this is culture, preference or due to the warm climate, I am unsure.

Greetings MAY throw you off guard

I have a good story about this. In Spain, it is typical to give two kisses on the cheeks as a greeting. No one bats an eyelid. I adapted to this cultural norm quickly but on one trip to the UK, I kinda forgot I wasn’t in Spain anymore. I bet you know where this is going. I saw one of my school friends with her partner, so instantly went to kiss them both on the cheek as a casual greeting. Oh boy. Safe to say I had to send a long paragraph by text explaining the misunderstanding after I saw the pair exchange horrified glances. Oops!

If you have travelled to Spain before, what’s something which you found to be different to your usual traditions? I’d love to know.

Until then, see you in the next post!

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Rebecca says:

    I visited Spain a ton of times, as well as lived with Spanish roommates, and it drove me NUTS that the Spanish don’t eat dinner until at least 21:00; similar to the UK, the US culture has dinner around 18-19h00; I myself tend to have dinner at 18h00, sometimes 17h30 if I’m starving. And it also goes into nightlife, which in Spain doesn’t start until SUPER late (think 2:00); by 23h00, I’m ready for bed! Thanks for sharing the cultural differences; I could relate!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! It felt so strange to be eating so late! And hahaha I totally know what you mean on the nightlife! By 2 am the last thing I want to do is get dressed and go out on a random Wednesday during the week 😂 I’m glad you enjoyed the post- thank you! 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Simone Says GO! says:

    Smiling as I read these as I’ve also lived in Spain – in Madrid. Late dinner & going out after midnight is something I’m still not used to but I’ve got to say – there’s nothing like those 5/6am mornings when the Spanish finally get around to calling it a night!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true! It blows my mind how things are opened so much later in Spain! Glad you enjoyed the post ☺️

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  3. I have never been to Spain, but an enjoyable read all the same. It does bring back some fond memories of living in the UK though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, glad you enjoyed it! ☺️ Where did you live in the U.K??

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      1. I lived on an Air Force base called Chicksands as a kid. It was a few hours south of London I believe. Always wanted to go back as an adult.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Haha I had the same thing in Canada with squash! Nobody even knew what it was. In fact, neither did my German friend out there, so I reckon most of Europe is probably the same! Also laughed at your story about greetings, whoops!

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    1. Yes! Hahaha it’s such a staple item in my household back in the U.K 😂😂

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  5. Talkthirtea says:

    Hahah every one of these ring true! The greetings with kisses can be a bit strange… I would also add that Spaniards in general give a lot less personal space. They stand much closer and are much more tactile, even the children! This took me a long time to adjust to in Spain!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you liked the post! That’s so true about the personal space now that you mention it, totally agree! 🙌 Thanks for reading 😇

      Liked by 1 person

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