One of the best ways to describe my time in Spain is with the word tranquilidad. Tranquilidad is a state of being. It is an ideology. It is a way of life. Almost every part of Spanish culture exudes this attitude. Why do something today when you can put it off until tomorrow? Meetings happen if God wills it. Time passes rapidly, but you do not have to pass rapidly.
Time is flexible. It is not uncommon for class to officially start at 11AM and the professor does not arrive until 11:30. No one is expected to be “on time.” There is no rule that if someone does not show up within five minutes, you leave. No, you stay and wait for an hour. “Leave no person behind” is life rule that is actually practiced. The only exception to this rule is public transportation.
Meals do not happen at a specific time. Breakfast can be at 9AM or it can be at noon. Lunch happens when someone has enough hunger to do something about it, usually around two, three, or four in the afternoon. The same rules apply to dinner. There is an expectation to spend at least half an hour or an hour at the meal table. Food is a reason to socialize, and one must never rush socializing.
For my own part, relaxing and spending days where you lie around and do nothing are not a thing. However, when in Spain, take advantage of the culture every chance you can. People who are over-analytical or who are generally type A will have a problem with this. If you want to spend three hours looking into space, you can. If you need a nap, go ahead and take one. If you have homework due the next day, it’s not really due, but merely a suggestion. You can do it the next day or the day after that. Procrastination is not a bad habit; it is culture. Yes, it is expected that you spend time with people, but if you want a day alone with your thoughts – or without any thoughts – you can have as many days as you need.
Work is a part of life; it is not life itself. This concept is especially difficult for Western US culture to understand. It is more important that a worker is well rested and satisfied with the personal life than that the same worker be punctual or work overtime. Work is not a burden that you must bear and count the hours until you can leave. Work is a portion of your life that takes time, but its value is not measured by the time it takes.
It is very easy to leave worrying to someone else. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t “no pasa nada.” It is also easy to forget to do things. It is easy to simply not think about things. We do not rush. We do not walk fast. We are leisurely. We take our time. We are tranquillo.
Now please excuse me while I take my siesta.