5 fun cultural differences between Northern Europe and Spain

When you move abroad, there are many things that they do differently. Especially in a country like Spain, where the cultural differences are many, when compared the countries of Northern Europe. Some things can be a challenge, while other things make you love Spain even more! We have gathered five cultural differences, which might be a surprise to you, if you are not prepared for them. Nevertheless, they are part of our beloved Spain, and what seems strange and unknown the first time you see it, ends up being everyday life when you move down here.

1 Lively streets

An evening stroll around the Spanish streets at 9 pm, is not the same experience as in most Northern European towns. 9 pm is still far from the Spaniards’ bedtime, which means you will experience people on the streets, in restaurants and sometimes shopping, as in the larger cities the shopping centres don’t close till 10 pm. Depending on where you are from and what you are used to, this may be a big difference, as people in the northern countries, will usually be relaxing at home or preparing for bed at this time. Nonetheless, this is a really positive thing about Spain, and we promise you – if you move to Spain, you will be spending your time completely differently. Also, you will spend lots of time outdoors, as there is always something to do. 


2 They take their kids everywhere

And by that, we mean everywhere. It’s not unusual to bring your baby with you, when you go out and have some drinks with your friends on a Friday night. This may be a big surprise when you first see it. But when you look at their lively culture, their passionate way of speaking and how much family means to them, it makes sense that they learn it right from birth. 


3 Different bed times

Spain has certain cultural differences when it comes to getting up early than we have in Northern Europe. For many, getting up before 8am on weekdays would be a crime. In fact, many would prefer to drag it a little longer. The same goes for their bedtime, which is way later than in most Northern European countries. They characterise their culture by their bedtime, as well as their siesta, which must not be missing in the middle of the day. So if you go outside at 9 am, the streets are very likely to be dead, as opposed to the evenings, as described earlier. 


4 Their definition of cold

The Spanish definition of cold is far from the one we have in Northern Europe. In many areas of Spain, it is not unusual for the temperature to be around 18-20ºC in winter. But this does not stop the Spaniards from putting on winter jackets and boots. When used to 30-35ºC in the summer, 18ºC does not always feel like 18ºC does in our countries, where most people would wear t-shirts and shorts in those temperatures. This is something you initially question. But after a few years living down here, you fully understand and even begin to do the same.


5 Kiss on the cheek

This is something cultural, and depending on where you are from, this is something that could possibly catch you by surprise. If you are not used to it. 

In most Northern European countries kissing is something you save for family. You will always greet people you don’t know with a handshake. You may spare a hug for your friends, but kisses are unheard of. Well, not in Spain. They greet you with one kiss on each cheek. This will usually not transfer into a hug at any moment. So if you are planning on moving to Spain, be prepared to get kissed on your cheeks – then they won’t catch you by surprise! 


These were the five fun cultural differences we have found between Spain and Northern Europe for you this time. But there are many more! Moving abroad can be complicated. But we promise you that the vast majority of all the differences, are really positive and easy to get used to.

If you have any questions about moving to Spain, please feel free to contact us for an informal talk. 

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