1. You refer as aunt and uncle (tía and tío) to people who are not related to you.
Why? Well, who knows why, but for Spanish people tío or tía, which literally mean uncle and aunt, is the equivalent of the English “dude.”
2. You think if you have dinner before 9 pm you will wake up hungry in the middle of the night.
How are all those people from the rest of the world able to be so many hours without eating? It will always be a mystery for you.
3. You think your mother makes the world’s best tortilla de patatas.
You think? You know! There’s no discussion about this.
4. You know the start of a new season is not determined by your calendar, but by El Corte Inglés.
February is winter? Check with El Corte Inglés. Chances are, it’s already spring there, and if it’s spring in El Corte Inglés, it’s spring everywhere! Same with Christmas in October.
5. You brush your teeth after every meal.
“And who doesn’t?” you’re asking right now. Well, you’d be surprised. There are many theories about this, and many studies suggest that twice a day is enough. Not what you’ve been taught, I know. Also, in many countries people brush their teeth before eating (it’s also easy to understand, you don’t want to eat with a dirty mouth), or only when they wake up, before breakfast, and before going to sleep. Ask your dentist next time you pay him a visit.
6. You cannot sleep without darkness.
This is something you don’t know about yourself until you travel abroad and discover there’s something missing in other countries’ windows: blinds! In countries where they almost have no dark nights during the summer! There’s also the theory that blinds are so common in Spain because of siesta, but hey, is it so weird to want to sleep in the dark? At night?
7. Many of your twenty-thirty-something friends are still living with their parents (maybe you are).
And you don’t judge them. Actually, even if you’re lucky enough to be able to afford a place of your own, you know you can always go back to the family nest if things go wrong financially. Even if you’re 40. Mum and dad will always have your bedroom ready waiting for you, just in case.
8. You buy fresh bread every day.
Bread is important, and you accompany every meal with one or two slices. You also master the art of knowing exactly how much bread to buy, depending on your needs. The last thing you want is having to throw it away the following day. It survives as toast for breakfast, but it won’t make it all the way to lunch. You might be forced to end up making torrijas if you have too much old bread (which is not such a bad idea, anyway).
9. You’re slightly obsessed with sunscreen.
It’s summer, you go to the beach or the swimming pool. Before leaving, you cover yourself in sunscreen because you know what happens when you don’t. You will need more days to get tanned, sure, but at least your skin won’t start to resemble a snake. Sunburn hurts. It might give you cancer. But summer after summer, you keep spotting blond tourists who clearly were not lectured against the dangers of the sun. The best part is when they tell you how they envy you for never getting sunburned. Should you tell them your secret?
10. You’re suspicious of people who are too good at languages.
We’ve discussed this earlier; we have the nasty habit of despising people who excel at something. Especially languages, and especially English. You don’t know why, but whenever you meet some other Spaniard with a perfect English accent, you cannot help but think, “What’s with that accent? What are you trying to prove? Do you think you’re better than the rest of us??”
11. You know you’ll only have a good year if you manage to eat the 12 grapes on New Year’s Eve.
It’s not an easy task. You need to eat one grape per bell strike, which is already quite difficult (it’s too fast, you only manage to actually chew and swallow the first four grapes), but you’re also expected to be immune to the sight of your family members filling their mouths. If someone starts laughing, you know you’ve lost. You won’t finish the 12 grapes on time. What if it really means you’ll be unlucky? The fact that you’ve never managed to eat all the grapes and made it this far nonetheless doesn’t make it less scary. For a moment, you really think you’re doomed.
12. You don’t expect to find people at a dance club until 3 am.
Thankfully, Spanish culture allows you to fill in the time you have to wait until you finally get to the dance floor. First, you will have dinner with friends. You meet at 10 pm. Someone will be late. Waiters will make you wait. You will start eating at 11 pm. Leave the restaurant after midnight. Go for a drink (but no dancing yet!). It’s cocktail time. Visit a few bars. It’ll be 3 am before you know it! The bad part of this is always the following day, when you will wish you were “more European” and would start drinking at 8 pm, be dancing at 11 pm, and cozily sleeping at 2.
13. You love discussing politics. Always funnier in big family dinners.
You will spend hours “fixing the world” with your friends or family, complaining about our politicians, about everything that’s wrong with our country, about what will happen in the next elections, about who should be in charge (you!). It’s also a great conversation starter with strangers, much better than the weather.
14. You judge people by the Inditex brand-store they go to.
We won’t make you admit it, but you know perfectly well the difference between Zara and Bershka, and you might have some prejudices about the last brand. Just try to be more open-minded; sometimes it’s only a question of age!
15. You understand the value of free time.
You read stories about people in other countries deciding to skip their holidays, because, you know, work, and just can’t understand what’s wrong with them. You will take every vacation day you’re entitled to, and dream of puentes (bridges), that magical time of the year when you have a work day between a holiday and a weekend and decide it’s stupid to go to work that one day (yes, yes, you might have to talk it over with your boss and colleagues, but you know you’ll have at least one puente per year!). You work to live, not the other way around.