As I have ventured around the world, I have encountered innumerable different ways of living, and whilst individuals live their lives in their own ways, there has been a varying feel to life in different parts of the world. As someone who enjoys being outside, likes interacting with others, and prefers evenings to mornings, I am a big fan of what I call the ‘Spanish way’ of living. My perception of Spanish life is based solely upon my five or six holidays in Spain which were all very enjoyable.
Weather plays such a big part of how people feel on a day to day basis and on all of my forays into Spain, ranging from Barcelona down to the south coast, I have been met with pleasant weather – mild in winter, and hot in the summer. What I love most about this heat is that it lingers into the evening, meaning that eating outside, late at night, is very possible. I went to Murcia a few years ago and every evening we’d sit outside to eat dinner at ten or eleven at night whilst I wore no more than a shirt and jeans. As such, the restaurants are set up for it and offer pretty terraces or open squares with nicely lit seating, serving food late into the night. When I think of how I want a restaurant to be, my mind flashes back to Spain and my experiences of eating there. And when cooking at home, once again I love the thought of being able to sit outside and enjoy the fresh, night air.
As with the relaxed closing hours of restaurants, the whole Spanish culture appears to be a lot more relaxed than in many other parts of the world. Some shops close at lunchtime (for a siesta) and I always felt nobody was really in a great hurry. I’m sure the biggest cities (maybe Madrid, I haven’t been) have less of this feel, but all of my Spanish experiences have been pleasantly paced. I believe in working hard in life, but I also believe in taking the time to enjoy life and fully believe that it is possible to work hard whilst having a relaxed outlook.
The social aspect of Spain is something I very much enjoy. I have found people to be friendly and more open to interaction than in some parts of the world. Take London, for instance – if you start talking to someone on the Underground, they are likely to think you’re a bit mad (in my experience which may be flawed as I have not spent great periods of time in London). As I grew up in the countryside where it is normal to say hello to all the strangers you pass, I prefer to live somewhere that considers random social interactions to be normal. It goes hand in hand with the late night tapas eating, in which lots of food is shared and eating becomes a social activity.
However, I may be biased with all the above mentioned lifestyle positives because every time I have been to Spain, I have found myself surrounded by fascinating streets – Barcelona, Seville, and Malaga were my last three stops in Spain – which immediately incline me to be positive about a place and to have an expectation that I will enjoy it more. And along with the weather, the social interaction, the Mediterranean food, the affordability (compared to the UK), and the relaxed atmosphere, it’s hard to imagine that I couldn’t like the Spanish way of life that I have experienced on my holidays.
The first trip I ever took abroad without my parents was a week long holiday to Spain when I was seventeen years old, and it made a good impression. I’ve flown and hitchhiked back since then and hope to visit more in the future. Searching for something similar, I find myself in Malta. Similarly, the weather is great, life seems relaxed, and people have been friendly. Everyone in Malta speaks English which makes life super easy for me, but they lack the diversity and the space that I would have found in Spain – but my decision to move here was biased by bureaucratic systems that dictate where I can and cannot live with my American partner. One day we may have more autonomy over our choices, but for now, we live on a little rock where we’ll eat dinner on our terrace and search for our ‘Spanish’ way of life.