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Understanding The Local Culture

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So you’re thinking of moving to Spain to live the good life. If you aren’t yet in a position to give up work you will need to look for employment.

Although you can stay in Spain for up to three months on a tourist visa, that isn’t necessarily enough time to find yourself gainful employment.

We’d always suggest you look for something before you take the plunge. There are online recruitment agencies that can help you find employment in any sector from HR to Financial services and everything in between. Remember that tourist–type jobs will probably not support you through the winter so if you’re hoping to make this long-term avoid the obviously linked industries. These include hotel and catering work and time-share sales.

Work culture

You may not find the work culture in Spain quite the same as here in the UK. Many businesses are still fairly hierarchical; it’s not so much about the team. Their natural competitive nature also naturally heads in this direction too.

Most business meetings are about giving instruction rather than getting input and making decisions. In fact, the decisions are already made!

Also most communication is face to face rather than written in any form – that could be a big shock from the ways we work here today. Business meetings are important and usually involve lunch or dinner. The food and wine and company are enjoyed and no discussion of the business kind takes place until coffee is served. Again a very different arrangement than here in the UK.


Image Source Flickr byChris Jones stopherjones Member since 2007

Life culture

The most obvious difference is the language. Spanish has been influenced by the Ancient Romans and the Moors. Spanish has a number of different ‘dialects’ spoken in the different provinces.

If you are planning to live and work there, you will need to speak the language. In fact for many jobs it is an essential requirement but even when it isn’t to get on well in a foreign country being able to speak the lingo is a big help. Get to some classes now if you haven’t already.

As background information, more than three quarters of the population is Roman Catholic and this means additional holidays and fiestas. Living in Spain means the majority will observe these and many of the fiestas are great fun and don’t need you to be of a similar faith to enjoy.

There is a big sense of regional patriotism in Spain but maybe that isn’t so different from here. In Spain though regional foods or food styles are probably still more noticeable. In the UK although some foods originate in different regions, they have either lost popularity altogether or are found all over the country now.

With internationally famous teams like Real Madrid you won’t be surprised to learn that football is their favourite sport. But something you might not realise is just how appreciative of the arts the country is. They have a great heritage in literature, art and cinema which might be worth brushing up on before you go. With this knowledge and understanding, taking jobs in Spain shouldn’t be too difficult.

Wendy Linn lives in Reading after moving from California she understands the pressures of living and working in another country.

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