Culture Shock in Barcelona



Because of the climate and long hours of sunshine in Spain, Spaniards tend to start the day later in the morning and stay out later at night. Barcelona is a major cultural center. As such, the city and residents are exposed to a constant stream of foreigners and that language is not necessarily a barrier.

For those planning to move to Barcelona, it is a big and obvious advantage to learn Spanish and Catalan at the onset. For English speaking expats in Barcelona, it is important never to assume that locals do not understand English.

Shops and business usually open at 9am to 2pm and 5pm to 8pm; the time from 2pm to 5pm are traditional ‘siesta' hour. Although some business close to the center of the city finds it common to stay open during the time, it would be safe to plan local purchases and business arrangements with this in mind.

Being polite in Barcelona doesn't necessarily mean using the occasional "please" and "thank you". On the contrary, "por favor" (the Spanish word for please), is more a sign of exasperation. Requests are short and sharp. Locals tend to take their time and a few minutes wait is expected. Hurrying someone is considered rude and may irritate the person.

Smoking in public places is not allowed and a stiff fine is imposed. Drinking alcohol in the streets is also illegal. Also, condoms and other products of the sexual nature aren't as openly sold as in other countries.

Finding friends through special groups (expat groups, athletic/sport groups, etc.) and volunteering at socio-economic centers is a good way to alleviate the isolation one encounters when starting residency in Barcelona.

The Spanish do things differently and knowing the small quirks really helps in appreciating living in the city.



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Culture Shock in Spain