I am often asked about what the differences are between British and Spanish culture. Many of you will already have first hand experience of this and will even have opinions of your own on such issues.
I prefer to simplify the question and point out that the only real factor for me is the weather. All other differences tend to be superficial as an indirect result of weather and geographical location. Food, clothes and music reflect the weather in which those people live, very much in the same way that other animals adapt to their surroundings; for they too have culture and a way of doing things which is passed down from generation to generation; this particular point, I would like to expand upon in a future blog.
In a nutshell, I believe that certain character traits are as a result of social conditioning, due to common practices; the main example being British indoor life, owing to the constant rain, in fairly stark contrast to that of Spanish street life. In my humble opinion, an excessive indoor life can lead to more reserved behaviour and in a few extreme cases, becoming a recluse.
On the other hand, the more street life and close interaction you exchange with others, developes people skills, which although also exist in Britain, are expressed in a more reserved or rather contained manner, hence the expression “stiff upper lip”. This is of course a broad generalization and there will always be exceptions to the rule.
In the case of Spain, Spanish people are used to being on the street since they are children, on a greater frequency than British kids, as the weather is more permissible. They therefore develope a slightly more relaxed and comfortable demeanour when it comes to public interaction. Of course, I insist that all of this would be equally true of British people, weather permiting. In fact, many bars and restaurants try hard to re-create that Spanish “patio feeling” by installing expensive outdoor heaters and wind shields, although at times futile.
However, thanks to mass media and popular culture, nations have become much more self-aware of their national identity and thus try to continuously avoid such stereotypes and in some cases end up becoming even more extroverted than their counterparts. I guess the real key is to simply be yourself in the hope of bumping into more kindred spirits.
Lets talk about this and much more at clasesdeinglesenvalencia.es