15 Rules to Thrive in Spain

Sometimes I forget just how complicated it is to live in another culture. Here, then, are 15 rules for living and thriving en España.

If you wanna be as cool as him, you gotta follow some basic rules

    1. Wear a scarf at all times from September until May. If you do not wear a scarf, be prepared to “catch” cold. You see, viruses do not cause colds; no, cold causes colds.
    2. After getting up, do not immediately make the bed. You must open the window, even in the dead of winter, to let the bed air out. Otherwise, it will stink.
    3. You must eat fruit after the meal. You must peel the fruit, even if the peel is edible and arguably the most nutritious part (apples, pears). You may also wish to eat your orange with a knife and fork, but only if you are skilled.
    4. Hot leftovers must never go into the fridge immediately. It is better to leave it out for hours on the counter until it is lukewarm and then put it in the fridge.
    5. If you exercise (and this is a big giant if) you must buy the latest in biking/running/swimming gear. Acceptable: Adidas running pants that wick the sweat off you (cost: €50). Not acceptable: Shorts. T-Shirts. Try not to run with music; that sort of behavior is only for pretend athletes. Not like you.
    6. There should be a broom for the kitchen and one for the rest of the house. These brooms must never, under any circumstances, be mixed up. You may die.
    7. Do not trust air conditioning. It is only tolerable if you live in the south. Otherwise, just wear your underwear all day long and sleep without bed covers.
    8. Vacation in August. Take the whole month off. You don’t pay out your ass in taxes for nothing!
    9. That thermometer? Yeah, it goes under your arm, not your tongue. The horror!
    10. As a woman, you always give dos besos. If you are a man, you always give women the two kisses, but only give other men two kisses if they are your family. Otherwise, you do what any man anywhere does – a handshake, and if you like the dude, turn that handshake into a backslapping prototypical “man hug.”
    11. Pretend you don’t care about gossip. Say you don’t care. But still … care.
      Spain Gossip
    12. Be “vegetarian,” meaning you don’t eat red meat so you can lose weight. But still eat it on special occasions. Life is for living, right??!
    13. Disparage the institution of marriage…you are past such things. If you must get married, realize it is only for your dear Catholic mother, the dear.
    14. Say you are Catholic, no matter if you can count the times you’ve gone to Mass on one hand.
    15. If you are an unmarried guy in your 20s, having a hairless chest is important. Visit the hairdresser regularly. Shaving your legs is also A-OK.


I hope these tips will assist you in your journey to españolizar yourself. Godspeed!

23 thoughts on “15 Rules to Thrive in Spain

    1. Yeah, they’re called “parejas de hecho,” or “partners in practice.” I’m not sure how it works, but it’s like marriage, but not! Hahaha. The only thing is it doesn’t satisfy your Catholic momma.

  1. Hilarious Kaley! :-D This post made me laugh and worried at the same time. Worried because I’m a spaniard and only do number 4, 9 and 10. Maybe I’m not cool after all :-( Oh, well…

  2. I love number 6! Hilarious.

    Also, as for number 7… in both Germany and the Czech Republic, the attitude towards the car air conditioner astounds me. Houses I get (it’s expensive, you can do without, etc.) but car AC is ALREADY IN THE CAR! And yet they refuse to use it. Which would be ok, if we could roll down the windows, but as soon as speeds get about 30-40 mph, they contentedly roll up the windows and sit in the boiling oven of a car to die. I really truly do not understand. Have you noticed this in Spain?

  3. oh, MAN. #3 man, #3! Seriously. You know it’s a miracle cure for being full too, right? I’m not even saying that ironically from a Spanish perspective, I mean it really does make you less full. Eat a clementine at the end of an overeating sesh sometime. MIRACLE. And thank you Basque different factor, everyone runs with an ipod in Bilbao.

    oh- and I love your new blog design. This font is making me so happy right now.

  4. I would say you’ve been living with my boyfriend. The thing is, he’s 31 and has a hairy chest. AND we’re fake married so I could get papers. Yes, I am one of those!!

    but i love this. it should be included in the auxiliar manual.

  5. Nice post. Oh yes, that old “vegetarian” chestnut. I can’t count the number of times I’ve ordered a “vegetarian” salad or bought a “sandwich vegetal”, only to find jamón in there. You see, jamón isn’t meat, is it? It’s a sort of universal add-to-everything, tastes-bad-without food, like an essential seasoning. Por dios. And re the cotilleo, have you seen Jose Mota (TVE 1, Friday night)’s character, La Vieja de’ Visillo? Small-town grey-haired black-garbed net-curtain twitcher, who will go to any lengths to eavesdrop. Classic.

  6. I don’t bother with #1. I make a point to wear a t-shirt until it’s physically impossible and then I just wear a spring jacket. When someone asks me if I’m cold, I just give my standard answer “No, soy canadiense” at which point they will nod their head understandingly. I’ve done it often enough that some person on the street will look shocked and someone nearby will tell them “él es canadiense”

    Maintaining cultural stereotypes is important.

    1. This post was 1) written a long time ago, and 2) written somewhat tongue in cheek. Nonetheless, I’m not trying to maintain any cultural stereotypes. But someone from Canada would naturally find Spain’s “cold” weather to be somewhat of a joke. Am I right?

      1. Indeed, someone just showed me this and I was aiming for “humerus reply” rather than any sort of critique of your post. Although I really do enjoy the looks I get from people when it’s December and I’m in a t-shirt.

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