• Helpful Gleanings

Part 3 - Culture & Customs

Updated: Feb 22, 2019

One thing I was able to really experience on our survey trip was obviously the culture. Growing up in Miami, I already had some exposure to the mentality and characteristics of Latin culture. Below, I've listed some things that stood out to me about the Spanish people.



Spain is known for their “siesta”. At 2 P.M., most shops and restaurants close down for siesta. From what we observed, this was the time of the day the locals took their lunch breaks, napped, and socialized.

Parents and grandparents would pick up the kids from school only to return them in a few short hours after siesta had finished. We were told that kids didn’t get out of school until 6 P.M. and that the average work shifts ended around 9 P.M. This made the average dinner time around 10 P.M.!

One Spanish man told us, “Yea, Spaniards just waste a lot of time.” But honestly, I don’t mind this schedule. I think could get used to longer days if I’m able to take a siesta myself.


As I mentioned before, I grew up in Miami, so I’m used to greeting with a kiss. But usually, it’s just one kiss. In Spain, it's two. Not only is it two but, they start from left to right. Going in on the right for one kiss on the cheek while the person is going left for two kisses gets kinda awkward… So, who are you suppose to greet with a "holy kiss"(2 Cor. 13:12)? If you're a woman, the answer is everyone. Even if its a man on the street you're just meeting for the first time. Men have it a bit easier, they kiss only the women on the cheek and they greet each other with an embrace or handshake.

Pedigree and Class

As the daughter of a missionary and pastor, I was taught that you shouldn’t live above the people. I still agree with this wholeheartedly. With that being said, we were told the Spanish people won't turn up their noses at you because you hold a higher standard of living. By this, I mean that you can live in an apartment with AC and an elevator that takes you to your 10th-floor apartment and they won't view you as being a spoiled American. I bring this up because I know that there are some cultures where if you bring your American necessities with you, it will hinder their hearts from hearing the gospel. Every culture is different.

Odd Things

I tried to note some of the things that I thought would take some getting used to.

1. Most people don’t have dryers/dryer hook ups.

This means it might take a day or two for your laundry to dry. So, if you want to wear something particular on the weekend, make sure its washed by Wednesday.

2. The washer is usually in weird places.

It may be located in the bathroom, kitchen, and even on the patio. Sometimes there’s a laundry room but not as often as you’d think.

3. Eggs and milk aren’t generally refrigerated at the store.

I know you can't tell from the picture above but the eggs and milk aren't refrigerated. I hear this is common for Europe. Refrigerated or not, I can honestly say the milk and butter are so much richer than in the States. The milk tastes like sweet heavy whipping cream. It is amazing!

4. Not all places have a/c or elevators.

These are things that may not be a necessity but when you’re on the 10th floor and there’s no elevator or the windows to your apartment face another building standing 3 feet away and its 90+ degrees outside, they certainly will become considerations.

5. No Backyard

Of course, this is common for major cities but I thought I would add it in here because it was different for me. Most people go to the local park for a taste of the outdoors. Plus, it’s a pedestrian-friendly area so you get plenty of time in the sun. I did notice they have balconies and rooftop terraces. This is just something to consider if you're going to a city.

6. The Metric System

This one can probably count for any missionary. I don’t know why Americans had to do it differently but there it is. Get used to converting and thinking differently.

Anywhere you go there will be differences and things to get used to. Even just moving from Ohio to Alabama there'll be "cultural differences". Some places will be more drastic and harder to adjust to. If the cultural differences are enough to notice, I would definitely recommend writing them down. If you bare them in mind while on deputation, it will be one less thing to surprise you once you move to your prospective field.