Adapting,  Culture

Life is in the Street in Spain

Dear Jana,

Something that you will soon realize when you move to Spain is that people live a lot of their time in the streets. This means, they go for a lot of coffees or tapas and find it normal to meet a variety of different friends and family members on a frequent basis. Since I have moved to Finland, I have noticed that even more as Finnish people tend to spend a lot more time in their own private space, totally opposite to many Spaniards who sometimes seem to spend more time out of the house than in it.

People in a square in Barcelona. Photo by skaramelka on PixabayWhen I was living in Granada, I adapted to this way of life and spent large amounts of time in the streets, moving from coffee with one friend to walks and tapas with another or dinner at a friend’s place. For me, I probably left home before 8 a.m. and got home after 10 p.m. at least half the days of the week. Now, I know this way of life isn’t for everyone (Dani and I have often talked about this she likes to live much more at home than in the streets), but here are my top tips for adapting to this way of life to get the most out of your experience living in Spain.


1.) Use it to make friends:

We have talked before here about how it can be difficult to establish true friendships with Spaniards (and, in general, people wherever you may move abroad). However, you can use the fact that Spanish people tend to like spending time in the streets to your advantage—suggest going for a coffee or a tapa with people you meet at class or at volleyball practice. Most likely, a group of people were already thinking about something similar and will want to go. This can make it slightly less overwhelming to reach out to one person at a time and you run a low risk of feeling rejected as it is not common for everyone in a group of Spaniards to say no to a coffee or a caña.


2.) Make space for the opportunities it brings:

If you are aware of the fact that your classmates/teammates/etc. will most likely be up for grabbing a coffee or a beer after your allotted time together, you can choose to pay attention to the opportunities that pop up around you. In addition, that means try to actively give yourself some flexibility in your schedule and allow yourself an extra hour after the activity ends before you have to do something else. After all, if you are always running to something else, you will never be able to see what possibilities there truly are.


3.) Plan for it accordingly:

If you know that your favorite bar will get packed around 10, make sure you plan accordingly when your best friend comes to visit (and get there at 9, for example). For everything you should take into account the fact that Spaniards and tourists in Spain love to take advantage of this lifestyle. However, if you have specific plans in mind, find ways around what might feel like chaos of having everyone trying to do the same thing as you.


4.) Take rests when you need it:

Like I said before, the lifestyle that fits someone else might not be a perfect match for you and that is okay. Therefore, if you personally find that the stress of bouncing around from coffee shop to coffee shop and bar to bar is too much for you, then find other ways to be social! One thing that Dani and I truly believe in is that every individual has to find his or her own way (especially while living abroad). So, don’t get down on yourself if you feel like others around you are adapting better to life in the street that you are—find your own ways to make your home away from home fit to you!


Learning to live with life in the street in SpainWhat do you think about Spanish lifestyle of spending a lot of time in the streets (even having kids playing around until late into the night)? Does it fit your personal style or do you prefer something more private?


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