11 Habits to Avoid as an American in Spain


Genevieve Hoyt is a student at Salve Regina University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Sevilla, Spain.

If you didn’t read this list, you would unquestionably do all of these things without even thinking about it.

1) Don’t smile at strangers. If you’re walking down the street and you make eye contact with a stranger, just keep walking. If you smile, they’ll think, “I don’t know that person…Why are they smiling…That’s creepy…”

2) Don’t go to dinner at 6…or 7…or 8. Restaurants are empty until earliest 9pm.

3) Don’t go in for a hug or stick out your hand when meeting a stranger. When they go in for the double cheek kiss and you’re jutting your hand forward, an awkward collision is bound to happen.

4) When locals ask what the weather is like in the US, don’t tell them the temperature in Fahrenheit. They’ll think you live on the sun.

5) Don’t wait for your bill at a restaurant after finishing dinner. Spaniards like to sit around and chat for hours after eating, so if you want to hit the road immediately, flag down the waiter and ask for the bill.


6) Don’t eat the bread on the table at a restaurant if you don’t want to pay for it. It’s not free, and if you touch it, you’re paying.

7) Don’t tip your waiter. A few cents is fine, but if you tip them like in the US they will be confused but also overjoyed. Your choice.

8) Don’t be surprised if you hear uncensored American pop songs. No one knows they’re swearing since no one speaks English very well.

9) Don’t jaywalk. No one does it here, even if there are no cars in sight. Sometimes people don’t even cross the road when the crosswalk light turns green, because they’re in the middle of a good conversation with a friend. We’re in southern Spain! What’s the rush?

10) Don’t expect a big breakfast or big dinner. Coffee and toast in the morning, tapas at night.

11) Don’t go shopping on a Sunday. Everything is closed, even the grocery stores.

Now you know exactly how to avoid looking like an American tourist in Spain. Buena suerte!

The world awaits…discover it.

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