How to handle cultural shock when moving to Spain from the USA

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So, you’re leaving the States and moving to Spain? How exciting! We know, there is a lot to do, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Soon, you’ll be eating tapas and drinking sangria on a beach in Spain! But before that day arrives, there’s some preparation to be done. And we don’t just mean planning your international move and looking for international moving services. Besides all of that, there’s some research you should do. Namely, when you’re moving to a new country, especially on a different continent, it’s quite common to experience a cultural shock. But don’t worry, we’re here to give you some tips that will help you handle the cultural shock when moving to Spain from the USA. We’ve prepared some great tips to make this transition easier for you. ¡Vamos!

Prepare yourself for moving to Spain from the USA to minimize the cultural shock

Learn some Spanish before the move

Not only are you moving to a new continent and a new country, but you’re moving to a place where English isn’t the official language. So in order to prepare for your new home, it would be best to try and pick up some Spanish. Although not everyone has a knack for languages, it’s worth a shot even if you aren’t convinced that you can do it.

A girl using her laptop to learn Spanish before moving to Spain from USA
What better reason to learn a new language than moving?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to go from 0 to 100 in a matter of weeks. Nobody expects you to become fluent and speak like a true Spaniard, but you should at least learn the basics. Before moving from USA to Spain, you should be able to have a simple conversation with the locals. Although some people speak English because of all the tourists, knowing Spanish will get you far.

Luckily, learning a language, especially a popular one like Spanish, has never been easier. You have so much information at your fingertips, there’s no way you can fail. Utilize apps, YouTube teachers, websites, online courses, etc. Immerse yourself in the language and soon you’ll be able to watch Spanish dramas on Netflix with no subtitles!

Learn about the culture

Other than learning to speak the language, it’s also good to read up on Spanish culture before you pack your bags. Every international or transatlantic move requires some studying about the new country. If you want to avoid uncomfortable situations and surprises after your move to Spain from the USA, it’s time to learn a little bit about what to expect. 

Fortunately, there are a lot of sources that can provide you some interesting facts about the lifestyle and the traditions in Spain. You can find some blogs that talk about Spain, YouTube channels, books, or articles. But don’t worry, we won’t leave you hanging, we’ll tell you a few things to keep in mind, too.

Madrid at dawn
Before you make Madrid your home, it’s best to learn a bit about Spanish culture and customs.
  • Beware: the meal times are a little different. Breakfast comes between 8 and 10:30 am and it’s usually small. Lunch is a very important meal that people usually have between 2 and 4 pm. Around 5 pm you’ll probably have an afternoon snack. And after your afternoon siesta, a late dinner comes around 08:30-10:30 pm.
  • Embrace the two-cheek kisses. Don’t be surprised when your new Spanish friends greet you by giving you a kiss on each cheek – it’s the customary greeting in Spain.
  • You probably won’t have a dryer. Instead, you can hang your clothes on a folding hanger to dry them.
  • Prepare to drive a car with manual transmission.
  • Learn to switch from Fahrenheit to Celsius after relocating to Spain from the USA.

Try out some Spanish dishes before moving to Spain from the USA

Food is a major part of everybody’s life. And as we’ve mentioned above, it’s common to have four meals in Spain. So, it would be nice to get used to Spanish cuisine and see what you’re in for. So, before moving to Spain from the USA, it’s a good idea to try out some recipes and see if you like them. This is a good way to learn even more about the culture and see what you think about Spanish food. So, look for a good Spanish restaurant or learn how to prepare your own paellas.

Learn about the city you’re moving to

Whether you’re moving to Madrid from NYC, to sunny Barcelona, or any other place in Spain, it’s time for some more research. To fully prepare yourself for this international move, you should know more about your future home. So, read the news, find other people’s experiences with your new city and see what you can expect. This is good mental preparation for your move to Spain from the States. Check out the public transport system, the neighborhoods, and even the tourist places. Get familiar with your new city!

Handling the cultural differences after the move

Even if you prepare yourself before the move, you still might experience a bit of a cultural shock once you actually relocate to Spain. So, here are a few things you can do to survive that shock easier.

Aerial photo of Barcelona
If you’re struggling with cultural shock after the move despite all the prep, there are some things you can do to feel better.
  • Make friends! Moving to a new country can be scary for different reasons, one of them is not having your friends around. Well, that only means one thing – it’s time to make some new ones. Get out of your comfort zone and become friends with some of the locals. They can help you settle into your new home, teach you some tips and tricks and help you handle all the differences that come with relocating from the USA to Spain.
  • Don’t stop researching. Even though you started doing your research before the move, you can never know too much about the place you’re now calling home. Explore, read, observe, ask questions. Embrace this great learning opportunity and you’ll become a much richer person.
  • Practice your Spanish with the locals. Your skill will become better and you’ll break down the language barrier – it’s a win-win!
  • Be open-minded. It might seem easier to stick to what you know and reject any changes, but that’s not the best approach. You’ve taken this leap of faith and moved to a new continent. So, welcome the cultural differences and be open to new things.

Time to get excited about the move from the USA to Spain!

We know it’s a scary decision, but it’s also super exciting! Moving to Spain from the USA will bring you a lot of new experiences and opportunities, so embrace it with open arms and enjoy. It’s time to find international moving companies NYC and start the journey. Good luck!

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