Cultural Dimensions

When travelling to any new country, there are cultural norms that will be different than things within the US. Spain is no exception, and there are a few dimensions that I would like to contrast between the countries.

As you can see on the chart above, individualism differences between the countries certainly stick out. The US, as one of the most individualistic countries in the world, promotes a sense of everyone fighting for themselves, attempting to get to the top. Spain is much lower in this metric, where social interactions can be much more protracted, less about “what can you do for me” exchanges, more focusing on superordinate goals and values.

Uncertainty avoidance is significantly higher in Spain than in the US. This is interesting to note, in one of the most individually focused countries in the world, we are still okay with personal uncertainty. I digress, however it is intersting to note this high level of avoiding uncertainty. If there is not a clear path for the future, Spaniards can spiral to an extent, which makes this something to keep in mind. Mexico similarly avoids uncertainty, and when talking with one of my friends who grew up there, he made it clear how true this was. Negative social stigma could even result from people who were not seen as having a clear goal for their future.

Finally, the dimension of timeliness must be discussed. Daily schedules in Spain can be much more relaxed than in the US, and it is not uncommon for Spaniards to be late for plans. Traffic, home issues, or any number of things are acceptable reasons to be late. This contrasts starkly with the US’ focus on punctuality, so be ready for this adjustment.

Keeping these dimensions and their differences abroad in mind can keep you from making cultural mistakes that may be detrimental to your trip abroad. Do learn and understand them!

Compare countries. (2020, June 08). Retrieved April 05, 2021, from

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