How to Have Good Manners in Spain

“Give me a coffee. With milk.” I say to the barista. She turns around immediately and scoops out some dark torrefacto coffee. The machines buzzes and whirs, and a minute later she slides the coffee across the bar to me, without a word.

Rude? Of course not.

Manners in Spain are different from those anywhere else. That much should be obvious right from the get go. But how? What can you do to be polite in Spain? What does Spanish etiquette call for?

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La Familia and Independence

Ah, la familia. Mothers and fathers. Sisters and brothers. Cousins, aunts, uncles. Grandparents. Godmothers and godfathers. “Aunts” and “uncles”. The friends who feel like family. In Spain, there is a saying, or perhaps more of a refrain: Madre, sólo hay una. You have but one mother. If I’ve learned anything about Spain—and oh, there is much to learn—family is important. And mothers … well, you’ve only got one.

The stereotypes are (somewhat) true: Spanish children don’t leave the nest as early as those of us in Anglo-Saxon countries. The average age for leaving home in Spain is 25.2 years old (source). This is not seen in a bad light here; it isn’t shameful. In fact, even if a 20-something does have a job, they may choose to stay at home with Mom and Dad, just because they can. After all, why pay rent when you can stay at home rent free?

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Things I Didn’t Do Before Moving to Spain

Inspired by Georgette’s post, I decided to write a similar post about things I didn’t do before I came to Spain. You never really realize how much you’re changing while in the process, but looking back I realized I’d changed quite a bit over my years in Spain.

Gym Spain

Say hello to people in the gym locker room

Can someone please clarify why this is a thing? I still can’t get over the fact that, while I’m partially undressed (awkward!), I’m supposed to say bye to you as you leave the room. I don’t even know you!

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