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Common Courtesy in Spain



Courtesy is a set of social behaviors that are considered appropriate in a culture. Courtesy is essential to interact with other people, as it shows respect, kindness and empathy towards others.


Thanks to my upbringing and my profession, I have always been courteous. But, after moving to Spain, I quickly learned there are quite a few more customs here. This is not an all inclusive list, but here is what I have learned as a resident of Spain so far:


  1. When entering (and leaving) a smaller setting such as a pharmacy or doctor's office, many Spaniards will say, "Hola. Buenos dias" to everyone present, not just the employees. Say hello and goodbye when entering any shop or establishment.


2. If you are somewhere that you have to wait your turn to be served, and there are people already there waiting, it is very cordial to ask who the last person in line is so as not to cut in front of people who were there before you.


3. When waiting at a bus stop, it is accepted practice to let people board the bus who were there before you. Never cut the line.


4. More often than not, public transportation such as buses and trains, get crowded very quickly and often you have to stand. It is very respectful to give up your seat to the elderly, physically challenged or mothers holding babies.


5. When you are in line at a cafe, pastry shop or restaurant, never go "reserve" a table and save the spot before you have received your food. It is considered first come, first serve.


6. When walking your dog, not only is it expected that you pick up after your dog, but it is highly recommended that you wash down the surface area. Always carry a water bottle!


7. When shopping for produce, do not touch that produce with your bare hands! Use the plastic gloves that are nearby.


8. Bicyclists usually have the right of way. Always look both ways before crossing a bicycle path!


9. Tipping is not routinely expected in Spain and Spaniards generally never tip at restaurants with table service.


10. Spaniards are renowned for being welcoming and generous people. It is a common saying in Spain that "mi casa es tu casa" (my house is your house). However, they tend to socialize in public places rather than in their homes. Therefore, try not to be offended if you are not invited to a Spaniard's house for a long time.





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