Even before the subject of Brexit comes up, the United Kingdom and its people can be a perplexing place for visitors. For the 1.6 million Spaniards that visited British shores last year, and the 130,000 officially registered as residents there, some things of the customs are just downright weird.
Photo of poster: Alper Cugun/Flickr
Instead of drinking alcohol with a meal and over the course of an evening, some young Brits choose booze as their main course and set out early with the intention of getting as drunk as fast as possible, stopping only to get takeaway food on the way home.
Photo: Karlis Dambrans/Flickr
Be late once and you may be forgiven; be late twice and you'll get a reputation. Spaniards find it hard to believe how seriously Brits take their punctuality.”What? I'm only 30 minutes late,” a Spaniard may utter in disbelief when addressing his disapproving British friends.
Brits prefer a handshake to a kiss when it comes to greeting strangers. Photo: 드림포유/Flickr
Any Spaniard who's been introduced to someone in the UK has probably picked up on Brits' reluctance to greet with kisses. What's more, physical contact is a big no-no in most social situations, leading Spanish expats to be labelled as touchy-feely if they invade a Brit's sacred personal space with an intrusive pat on the back. Among strangers, a firm handshake is about as touchy-feely as Brits like to get.
Inappropriate winter dress
Miniskirts and skimpy tops when it's minus five degrees outside? Spaniards still hit the town in winter but they wrap up warm without fail. British youth's decision to brave it with the help of a much needed “beer coat” baffles many Spaniards in the UK.
Equivalents for 'please', ' thanks' and 'sorry' are common in Spain too but in Britain they are repeated and inserted into conversations much more frequently, often to the point where it can seem absurd to Spanish visitors.
Spaniards are often shocked by the quality and quantity of coffee served in the UK. Massive mugs of watery, tasteless liquid are not what you'd call their “cup of tea”.
Britain's obsession with being tanned is quite literally beyond the pale for many Spaniards. Fake tan and excessive make-up seem odd and somewhat tacky for Spanish expats.
Just no. Photo: Rick/Flickr
Carpets help keep British homes warm in winter but can surprise Spanish visitors who are not only more used to wooden floors or tiles, but find bathroom carpets very unhygienic.
What's with the separate hot and cold taps?
And while we are on the subject of bathrooms, Spaniards are left perplexed at the number of sinks that still have separate hot and cold taps, leaving visitors faced with the choice of washing their hands in either a freezing cold or scolding hot flow. While there are historic reasons for this (something to do with the water in houses with ancient plumbing systems coming from different tanks and therefore the hot being unsafe for drinking).
Yes, we are still in the bathroom with this one. Spaniards living in the UK are surprised to learn that they have been toying with danger all their lives, just by plugging in their hairdryers / straighteners over the sink and conveniently using the bathroom mirror to style their hair. British health and safety rules means no electric sockets should be placed within three metres of a water source, so you'll rarely find an electricty outlet bar the low voltage one specifically designed for electric razors.
Whether its the abundance of fast food joints or the often atrocious quality of the grub served, Spaniards often yearn for a fresh, wholesome meal when living in Britain. What's often most surprising to them is that curry has become the national dish, rather than fish and chips or roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.
Photo: Philip Evans/Flickr
Rather than being surprised by how Brits queue in an orderly fashion for almost everything, Spaniards are usually more surprised by how riled they can become if someone dares to skip a few places.
So what would you add? What else did you find surprising on a visit to Britain? Join the discussion on The Local Spain's Facebook page.