Spain and the United States: Cultural Differences

So, if you don’t know, I am currently in Sevilla (Seville), Spain for my semester of study abroad. I’ve only been here a little over a week, but I already love it here. Today I want to talk about some of the cultural differences that I’ve seen so far as I think they’re interesting and could be useful to other people interested in going abroad.

  1. You have to wear shoes when in the house.

I read a little about this before I came here. Some people say it’s an old superstition about getting sick easier when barefoot. I think it’s mostly to keep the house cleaner. Whatever it is, it is a must that you wear shoes when walking around the house at all times. It’s also important that you don’t wear shoes while your feet are on the bed.

I struggle a little bit with this one because I really like being barefoot.

  1. Spanish people don’t snack

At first, I didn’t really notice the impact of this because of how large each of the three meals a day are. Especially during lunch, which really is later in the day, there is a lot of food. And they eat slowly. Meals are a very social thing.

But when I started having homework for classes, that’s when I really noticed it. I snacked a lot in the states when doing homework. You can go down to the supermarket and find things to snack on, but they aren’t going to have a whole aisle dedicated to chips like they do in the states. They also don’t eat as much junk food and desserts as we do. I’m so used to having ice cream after dinner, but it just isn’t a common thing here.

  1. Siestas are a thing

And they are amazing. Need I say more?

Though many smaller shops and restaurants are closed during this time, just a heads up.

  1. You don’t get carded when trying to buy alcohol

In America, I get carded for everything. Maybe because I’m a twenty-year-old female who looks very young for her age. This may not be a shock to many people, but it is something that’s very different for me since I’m very used to people questioning my age. Whenever I go out to drink with friends I usually have my id ready out of habit.

Also, people don’t drink to get drunk here nearly as often as in America. (well besides younger people drinking cheap beer) It’s a social thing for meals mostly.

  1. On that note, Spanish people don’t have people over to their houses.

At least in the city, most people live in smaller apartments. It’s not common here for you to have guests over at your house. Normally, if you go to hang out with your friends, you do so in tapa bars. I heard one lady from my university say that you could date someone for years and they wouldn’t know what the inside of your house looks like.

  1. University students aren’t as stressed as American students

Maybe it’s only the few students I’ve talked to so far. However, out of these few, not many had jobs and most didn’t participate in clubs or sports at the university.

I found this so different than my experience at my university back home. I have two jobs, I’m in the honors program, I ran a club and attended others regularly. I was constantly stressed and having to prioritize what I did.

This isn’t to say I don’t think Spanish students ever get stressed or they don’t have a hard time in university. From what I’ve seen, it seems like the pressure to be super involved isn’t as prevalent here.

  1. Everyone smokes.

It’s just a thing you have to get used to as you walk down the street.

Since I have only been here a short time, and I only have the experience of living with one older lady, these differences may be subjective. However, even with the small differences, I still love it here. Experiencing a new culture really is life changing and gives you a whole new perspective.

If you want to see pictures of my adventures, follow me on Instagram @bouncybumblebee. I’ve been posting a ton of pictures; this city is so beautiful!


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