You would think that when your boss tells you that you will be working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. she actually means it. People in Madrid aren’t obsessed with making money and for the most part, they don’t let their job be the main aspect of their life. On my first day at my internship in Madrid, I arrived promptly at 9 in the morning because in the States, that’s what you do. I was the first one to arrive at the office every day for that week because my co-workers needed to go grocery shopping or they would work from home. Most would arrive after 9:30 a.m. or at noon. They even gave me the office key because they knew I was the only punctual one.
It took me a while to adjust to the idea that flexibility exists within the work-life culture in Spain. You need to take your child to school before work? Okay, go ahead! You need to show up to work at noon because you need to run errands? Sure, do as you please! You took more than an hour for lunch? That’s fine, just stay a little longer.
With that being said, just because you are supposed to leave work at 5 p.m. doesn’t mean that you will. As a communications intern, I had to design a booklet for a project and didn’t finish at 5 p.m. so I had to stay until 8:30 p.m. and even come in the next day when I wasn’t supposed to work. That is normal for them because it is not a mediocre culture. You are supposed to do everything in excellence no matter how much time it takes. My co-workers are passionate about what they do and it isn’t just a typical 9-5 job for them. They work from home and they work during weekends without getting paid for those extra hours because giving it your all is all they know.
This was a reminder that our lives aren’t meant to focus on something materialistic such as money. We are supposed to do everything with excellence because it’s the correct way to live. Family comes first and your personal life matters but your job does too.
As an intern in Madrid, Spain my eyes have been opened to a different way of living your life, a different work perspective that I wouldn’t have had in the states.
The world awaits…discover it.