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It must be culture January 22, 2011

Posted by espainisdifferent in Culture, Society and Media.

I haven’t updated this blog in a while. Surprisingly I still have a bunch of visits everyday. It is gratifying to see that what one has written is still followed by some people. My endeavours have not been in vain. A big thank you to those who read this blog.

Now, let’s go to the matter. If you read my introduction in “About”  I don’t give much information about myself. I will tell you that I live in the United Kingdom’s capital. As many capitals in many countries, London is a stressful and rough place in many ways. So, as you can imagine, people in here are not looking after you. I know generalizing is not good, but it is true that GENERALLY speaking one does not feel the warm of the people. London is a multicultural, multi-ethnic city where most of the people have time only to care about themselves (Remember I am only generalizing). Well, till here it is all normal.

But I live in a country called UK, in England more specifically. In London, it is normal that, till you don’t reach a certain stage (uni, professional jobs, etc.) you don’t meet English people. I have reached it now. I regard myself as a keen social observer. It is inevitable to draw comparisons about what you knew -where you come from- and what you are getting to know (England and its people). I must acknowledge that what I am going to write about as an outsider is based on a shallow and very superficial knowledge of the locals.

Conclusions: stereotypical? I don’t know but this is how I feel about the matter

I want to make clear that I don’t consider English people bad people, but they are definitely different to Spanish people (this blog is about Spain, isn’t it?). A way to understand the Spanish mindset and culture is putting it against others’ culture. We must never forget that these conclusions are constraint to the knowledge of a limited reality and geographical area which has not necessarily be representative of the whole. There we go!:

– English socializing ways against Spanish ones in the workplace: we, Spaniards are definitely more spontaneous than English people. In my workplace I noticed that within and, especially in the surrounding areas, when you walk and meet your colleagues (unless you work with them closely) in your way, they tend to look to avoid any eye contact or greeting. This is the case of my manager. She is a sweet girl but saying hello and looking at you when she meets you in her way is not one her strong points. Of course, she is not alone on this. This is why I regard this behaviour as an English people’s trait. Thanks God, there are exceptions … one of the guys in Print and Dispatch is always greeting me for my name (by the way, I someone told me people in England was like this till the 70s). This does not mean, we Spaniards, hug and kiss one another every time we meet one another, but at least we say hello or make a minimum gesture. We are definitely more informal in out social relationships. One feels the charm more easily. It is not uncommon to receive a pat from someone you don’t know really well. Let’s face it: we are more easy-going.

– English people are in their business, they are not intrusive. We are! I would like to repeat as many times as needed that generalizing is not good but this post is about perceptions.  Probably it is a consequence of the safety distance I wrote about but everyone being in their business and not putting their nose on others’ is a virtue from this blogger point of view. Spaniards tend to make comments about what you wear, what you should and what you shouldn’t do. This is remarkable family wise. Families in Spain are very supportive protective toward their offspring (this is something good and bad at the same time, but this is another debate) but also very, very intrusive. Because of that, parents and brothers use to claim special powers to influence ones life. I don’t know English people that well but I have the feeling this is not the case. I think the philosophy here is that you are in charge of your life so you need to learn to look after yourself.

– English socializing is too programmed, ours is more natural and spontaneous. I am opened to criticism. I don’t want to seem chauvinistic but after living in London for some years this is my perception. The best way to illustrate is thoughts is, of course, with examples.

Speaking to a fellow countrywoman the other day we came to the conclusion that any social gathering made by English people must be previously scheduled and arranged with sufficient time. Social gatherings here are quite “institutionalised”. She told me that, if the group she worked with (we work in an office) decided to having lunch,  this would be proposed by e-mail (in my group we do the same). In Spain this proposal would be done loud –Vamos a tal sitio. Os venis? ( We go to X place, wanna come?): no more hassle, easy!).

– Go and ask for a beer in UK and don’t mention a “please” and “thanks” or any of its variants and the waiter will kill you with his eyes. It sounds bloody rude! In Spain would be, ponme una caña! (put me a half-pint) and end of the story (I must clarify that this does not apply to all the people but to the the many). The waiter does not feel offended. In this regard, according to that reputed author called myself 🙂 , the score is clear, England 1- Spain 0. Manners are never too much.

I guess the article could go on for hours. There is enough material to write an essay but my time is limited so the article is finished now! From now on I hope that I will be more regular writing on this blog but I don’t want to make promises that I may eventually break. I cannot help, I am a busy man.


1. Make - December 28, 2012

I see , not many people are commenting here. Don’t worry about it, i was looking for spanish humour, and i found your web, i watched some articles, and i like your style. I will watch out for news of this blogs, nice to read something interesting nowadays.
By the way, i’m spanish.

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