Every country has its own traditions, its own customs and its own habits. It’s only natural that when you spend time in a country you notice them. When living in a country, they become even more apparent as you try to adjust to them. Here are a few things that I’ve noticed about Estepona, Spain.
When you think of Spain, siestas are something that comes to mind. The siesta falls between 2pm and 5pm – generally considered the hottest time of the day. Although, it does seems hot ALL the time here in Estepona! Lunch falls within the siesta. As I have already mentioned in other posts, lunch at 2pm is something rather difficult to adjust to when a 12pm/1pm lunch in the UK is the norm.
I might add here that contrary to popular belief, I DO NOT get a siesta. If I’m honest, I get more of a siesta at uni, even if this does mean having a nap in the library :P. However, siestas do mean that a LOT of shops, banks etc. are not open. Which leads me to my next point…
Opening times take a lot of getting used to, and until you do, they may seem completely random. With a massive break in the middle of the day, most places are open early morning and/or late into the night. On Sundays you will find that most things are closed other than the big supermarkets.
August is the holiday season in Spain. As you’ll find in England, many people will take their summer holiday at this time of the year, as in Spain. However, you may also find here that some shops will close for the whole month or people will be out of the office for ages!
Standard greeting in the UK to answer the phone: Hello? Can I help? etc.
In Spain, ‘dígame’ is widely used. Grammatically, this is an imperative – so some may consider it a bit abrupt. I had to think about it the first time I heard it. However this greeting, used for answering phone calls to working on the fish counter at Mercadona, is used everywhere. Literally meaning ‘tell me,’ this custom, which does seem to make things more efficient, is a common understood greeting in Spain and something I’m getting used to. Eventually, I’m sure I’ll be answering my phone ‘dígame’ instead of ‘hola’.
Good morning? :
A quick guide to polite greetings, but more importantly, WHEN to use them –
Good morning = Buenos días (from early morning until about 2/3pm)
Good afternoon = Buenas tardes (3pm- around 9/10pm)
Good evening = Buenas noches (onwards)
The accents and slang of the UK will widely differ from formal, ‘proper’ English taught in foreign schools. Similarly, the Andalucía accent, from what I’ve heard, is a much more relaxed version of the ‘school-taught’ Spanish with shortened words and strong accents (e.g. you can’t tell the difference between a ‘b’ and a ‘v’ in speech). This is what I’m trying to adapt to. That and the speed of naturally spoken Spanish!
Roads and traffic lights:
Generally, a little confusing. Not as strict or structured as the UK but certainly not the challenge faced in countries like India. Though they do like to use their horns here, a lot.
Here are just a few observations about Spain that I’m adapting to – things to bear in mind if you are in Spain.
Though generally, what a brilliant lifestyle here! I’m sitting in my flat, my windows well open. They look out onto the streets of the ‘old town’ in Estepona, which has been buzzing all day, full of tourists and locals. Especially at this time, the siesta, when the smell of food is wafting in. Lovely!
Another point, people look much younger than they are here. Whether it’s the climate, the way of life or the siestas, they’re certainly doing something right here in Spain. As my high school Spanish teacher used to say, and a phrase he very much liked to use (shout out to Mr.Gough)
“Que vida más buena que tenemos” – what a good life we have!