Week 7-Cultural Competence


Wow, I can’t believe that I only have two weeks left here in Spain.  The past 7 weeks have truly been amazing and I have been fortunate enough to see an entirely different side to the world.  I have experienced many different aspects of Spanish culture throughout my time in Madrid as well as the trips that I have taken to various cities throughout Spain; as of right now, I have spent time in Madrid, Barcelona, Toledo and Valencia.  All of which have allowed me to get a fairly strong grasp on Spanish culture.  Just like all cultures, it’s easy to spot many differences and similarities between the Spanish culture and the United States culture–some of which I can incorporate into my daily life back in the states and some that I won’t miss as much.

My experience with the work culture here in Spain versus the work culture back in the United States are very different.  In the United States, most people either work 8am-5pm or 9am-6pm with a one hour lunch break.  At my previous internship last summer, I was required to start my work day at 8am and I was allowed to leave at 5pm; in addition, I was given a one hour lunch break and two 15 minute breaks.  However, my experience with the work schedule this summer has been very different from that of my previous internship.  In Spain, it is very common for people to work from 10am-7pm.  Instead of a strictly monitored one hour lunch break, people tend to have the ability to take as long as they please for lunch as well as many coffee breaks throughout the day.  In addition, the start and end times are not strictly monitored either.  It is completely normal to arrive late or leave early–the Spanish people are more focused on getting things done at their own pace with little stress.  My work experience has definitely leaned towards the relaxed style of work.  Because I work at a startup with a staff of only 5 employees, my schedule is very flexible.  For my first month of work, my schedule was 10am-7pm.  However, I was permitted to arrive and leave as I please as long as I complete the amount of work I had for that day.  I think this has made me more productive because it is low stress and I tend to work more efficiently early in the morning which allows me to leave early on most days.  Now that we have entered the month of July, my schedule haas shifted to 8am-3pm due to the extremely high temperatures (and lack of air conditioning).

I thoroughly enjoy this work culture and I think that there are some aspects of the culture that I can incorporate into my everyday life and some that I certainly shouldn’t.  For starters, when it comes to studying for a test, I should definitely incorporate many short breaks throughout the day to keep my mind fresh and morale high.  I think that the many coffee breaks with my coworkers have kept my mind fresh and my spirits high.  The friendly conversations and the short breaks to enjoy the city have made me more productive in the workplace and I think that it could improve my study habits.

On the other side, there is one thing that I certainly can’t incorporate into my work life back home.  Since the US views punctuality as a requirement, I definitely can’t leave early or show up late without permission.  In Spain, it is very common to act independently and arrive/leave when you can.  If I showed up for a test, job interview or a day of work, I would  be fired.

Although working for the past 7 weeks have been amazing, the many trips that I have taken on the weekends have allowed me to experience the many different parts of Spain.  This past weekend, I travelled to Barcelona with my family.  We ate so much seafood paella that I thought I might explode!  On Saturday, we visited la sagrada familia, the cathedral of the Sea, the cathedral of Barcelona, parc güel and several of the architectural phenomenons created by Gaudi.  It was truly amazing to be able to experience some of the greatest sights of the world including the one pictured above from a museum near the old Olympic arena.

Sadly, my next blog post will be my last one before I leave Madrid.  However, until then it is another week of work and enjoying the city with my friends.

Hasta luego