10 Ways A Spaniard Is Different From An American

Celebrating the La Tomatina festival in Spain.
Celebrating the La Tomatina festival in Spain.
  • The preferred greeting in Spain is by kissing on the cheek.
  • Spaniards consume 23% more alcohol and 71% more cigarettes than Americans.
  • Americans have about twice as much disposable income as Spaniards, but higher costs of living.

When you think of Spain, you might think of tapas, bull fighting, and football (that’s soccer to a Spaniard). But how much do you really know about the people of Spain? Let’s see how different Spaniards are from Americans.

They greet each other by kissing

When two Spaniards see each other, they say hello by kissing twice, once on each cheek. The exception is if two males are greeting, in which case they typically shake hands. Hand shaking is the preferred form of greeting for most Americans of any gender.

Their day starts – and ends – later

A day in the life of a typically Spaniard might not start until 9:00 or 10:00 AM. Lunch is typically eaten around 2:00 or 3:00 PM, followed by a brief siesta (or nap). Dinner isn’t usually served until 9:00 PM. Nightlife begins even later, around midnight, and can go until dawn.

They eat a big lunch

In Spain, it’s not uncommon for lunch to be the main meal of the day. Breakfast and dinner are relatively light, while lunch is a multiple-course event that often even includes a glass of wine.

They make less money

At $3,258.85, the average American disposable monthly income is twice that of Spaniards, which is only $1,635.15. However, the cost of rent and food in Spain tends to be lower.

They don’t care about personal space

Americans are known for their love of personal space and don’t typically like to be too close to other people they don’t know. On the other hand, Spaniards are quite comfortable being in close proximity to strangers in public, especially in crowded areas like on public transportation.

They drink and smoke more

Overall, Spaniards consume 23% more alcohol than Americans per capita. They also smoke 71% more, puffing away at 1,757 cigarettes per adult each year.

They drive less

Americans prefer to commute in their car, which is often the only available method of transportation. Spain, on the other hand, has a much more advanced public transportation system, and Spaniards take full advantage of it. Cars are also more expensive in Spain, which might help explain why fewer Spaniards own one.

They don’t use dryers

In Spain, many homes include a washing machine but no dryer. Instead, clothes are hung out on lines to air dry.

They dress better

You wouldn’t think twice about seeing someone running errands in sweatpants in the United States. In Spain, however, this is seen as a faux pas. Spaniards like to dress nicely for all occasions, even just to go to the supermarket. 

They work fewer hours

While the average American works 38.6 hours per week, a Spaniard only works 36.5 hours per week. One common theme across the differences between Spaniards and Americans is that residents of Spain don’t like to rush their day. They take time to enjoy their routine, spend hours at meals, and aren’t pressured to work more hours per week than they can handle. Overly stressed Americans might be able to learn a thing or two from this relaxed attitude.


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