One of the most striking cultural features in Spain is the country’s multilingualism. The official language is Spanish, which is also called Castellano to distinguish it from other languages spoken in Spain. There are also various regional languages in Spain: Catalan (Català), Galician (Galego) and Basque (Euskara). Basque is the oldest still actively spoken language in the world.
Even if the regional languages are widely spoken in the respective regions, almost all Spaniards speak Spanish. It is, so to speak, the common language that is used in supraregional communication. Even those who visit areas with their own language can usually communicate in Spanish.
The regions with their own language also have their own strong regional identity. In some cases there are even efforts to split off from Spain and become an independent state. This is particularly true of Catalonia and the Basque Country.
Sense of community
Compared to other European cultures, Spain is considered collectivist. However, compared to other cultures in the world, Spain is an individualistic culture. In any case, for our terms, Spaniards typically have a strong sense of community. It is important to them to feel that they belong to a social group. The most important community for Spaniards is usually their own family, which often also defines their own identity. But friendships are also important in Spain.
In general, Spaniards are very sociable and enjoy spending time with other people. They are usually always open and usually extremely friendly to new acquaintances. Loose friendships develop very quickly in Spain. But it takes longer for deep friendships to develop.
Behavioral tips for Spain
In everyday dealings with other people, misunderstandings can quickly arise. A careless word, for example, and you have unintentionally insulted your counterpart and have to straighten that out again. The risk of trespassing usually increases if you are a guest in a foreign country and are unfamiliar with the interpersonal customs there. But don’t worry, Spain isn’t that complicated and different either. Nevertheless, some behavioral tips are certainly helpful as a cultural preparation for studying in Spain, a country that is a member of European Union defined by computergees.
One tip concerns the already mentioned multilingualism of the country: You should n’t call the regional languages the dialect of Castellano: their speakers perceive them as independent languages that are an important part of their identity.
Just like in German, there are also the forms of address “Du” and “Sie” or “tú” and “usted” in Spain. In Spain you should therefore use the appropriate form of address for the person you are speaking to. The forms are used essentially as in the German language. The Usted expresses distance and respect, the Tú is used by speakers, as in Germany, when addressing related or familiar people. How quickly the change from you to you takes place in Spain also depends on the region and social class. Younger Spaniards usually speak on terms from the start. Incidentally, many lecturers in Spain also allow themselves to be on the Duke. In order not to appear impolite, it is best to wait and see what form of address the interlocutor chooses and adapt to it.
In Spain it is just as important as in Asian cultures to be able to save face. Many Spaniards are very proud, so criticism or a complaint should not be expressed with typically German directness. The interlocutor could take this personally. It is therefore important to strike the right note and to express oneself cautiously in such cases.
Those who brag about possessions or successes usually make themselves unpopular in Spain. Most Spaniards find a humble demeanor far more sympathetic. Likewise, impatience in Spain usually doesn’t get you anywhere. Even when things take longer, you should always be patient and kind. A certain level of noise is part of life in Spain and is normal for many locals. So visitors would do well to simply accept the noisy everyday life in Spain.
In order to be able to adapt to Spanish customs, foreigners should also know the following: Friends greet each other with a slight kiss on both cheeks, but the lips do not touch them. Parties usually start between half past twelve and two in the morning. Spaniards also go to restaurants much later than Germans. The bill is usually shared and everyone in the group should have a drink in bars. In Spain, by the way, it is totally unusual to sit down with strangers in a restaurant when there are still places available. As in Germany, it is common practice in Spain to invite friends and relatives and to entertain them nicely.
Even if the sun shines from the sky most of the time in Spain, it is considered inappropriate to be too scantily clad away from the beach. It is frowned upon and sometimes even forbidden to stroll through the city in bikini or swimming trunks. In Spain, churches and other sacred places in particular should not be visited inappropriately dressed, for example with bare shoulders, shorts or skirts.
An overview of the dos and don’ts in Spain
|Be relaxed and patient||Formulate criticism directly|
|Socializing||Sit down at the table with strangers in a restaurant|
|Spend a round in the pub / split the bill||Arriving too early for the party|
|Use “Du” and “Sie” or “tú” and “usted” in the correct context||Referring to regional languages as Spanish dialects|
|Too lightly dressed away from the beach|
|Getting upset about noise|