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What are 10 random differences between Spain and the Netherlands?

This blog won´t be about the big differences everyone knows about, but about the 10 smaller, more random differences, that I have noticed during my time in Spain and the Netherlands.
Of course the weather, language, nature and people are completely different. But do you know about these things?

10 places I want to visit once I move back to the netherlands - Scheveningen
The Hague, the Netherlands

So far I lived in The Netherlands almost all my life (I became 24 last week, yay) and have been living on and off in Spain since 2018. In total 10 months in Sevilla (10 months!) and 6 months in Barcelona now. Because of that reason, I think I am allowed to say I can tell some differences. 

A disclaimer: of course everyone experiences these things differently. Also did I live in Assen, a very boring town in Netherlands (which is of course different as how life is in Amsterdam). I lived in the ´bigger´ cities Sevilla and Barcelona, so I don´t know how life is in smaller towns in Spain.

I am not saying one of both countries is wrong, it´s just my experience. Okay, let´s go! 

What to expect in this article:

1. Evening life 

Spaniards love to be outside in the evenings and I love this as well! Maybe it is because I am from a very boring city where everything is closed at 6… or that it is much colder in Netherlands, but it was never this bubbling on the streets as in Sevilla and Barcelona. When I am done with work at 8pm in Spain, we often say ‘let´s go to a park or something.’

During my Erasmus time in Sevilla, we often ate at the same pizzeria (I even wrote a blog about it hihi) on Tuesdays. One time a friend had to go to class and would only have time at 10.30pm to go have pizza. Sure, let´s make a reservation at 10.30pm haha! Maybe this is common in Spain, but in the Netherlands not at all. 

One more funny fact: I felt extremely safe in Sevilla to walk alone on the streets at night. In Barcelona… uhum, I sometimes don´t even feel safe during the day on my own.

Sevilla tour guide
Sevilla

2. Friends & Family

Any other internationals that agree with me that it is difficult to make Spanish friends? I went to school with Spanish people, have lived in the same house, but for some reason, I never became friends with Spanish people. This I find funny, maybe it is me. Or, maybe it is also because I couldn´t speak Spanish well in Sevilla, where no one speaks English. 

I do think it is easier to make Dutch friends (of course I do not know for sure), even though the Dutch are labeled to be ´cold´ people. If someone has experience in this, let me know in a comment. 

Then one thing I love about the Spanish culture: the love for their family. Not that Dutchies do not love their family, but here in Spain it´s much more visible 

3. ¡Guapa!

´´¡Hola Guapa! ¿Quieres una bolsa guapa?´´ (Hello beautiful/ cutie! Do you want a bag beautiful/ cutie?). 

In Spain, everyone calls everyone guapa/guapo, which literally means beautiful/lovely/cutie. Whether it´s the person at the cash desk, housemates, a taxi driver, an old man on the street, or your landlady. I think it is so funny and positive. In the beginning, I was very confused and shy when people told me this.

You have to know this: Dutch people are very down to earth. ´Do normal, then you are already acting crazy enough.´ This is a typical saying. 

We never call people just beautiful. There must be a good reason for it or you must be some kind of friend. I actually don´t prefer one or the other. For that reason, I think I am a bit too Dutch, I only call people I really like ´schat´ (cutie). 

Sevilla Andalucía Spain - La setas view. Amazing sunset
Sevilla

4. Locks

In Spain, I have lived in 3 houses so far. One was definitely a party party student house.
The second one was also a student house, with only guys (you can imagine, dirtyyy).
Then the third house right now is a ´normal´, because we live together with only the landlady and her son. 

In the last two houses, we did not have any locks on the bathroom doors, which I found a bit funny. Also, the bedroom doors were not locked with a key, but only with a latch. I find this a bit weird and maybe it´s just a coincidence that both of these houses don´t have that. Especially me as a girl not having bathroom locks, when there are other guys living in the house. Student life is not easy ;).

The first house I did have both and maybe this was also because my landlady was surprisingly Dutch

I know that all houses in the Netherlands have locks on the bed- and bathroom doors. Please tell me if it is just a coincidence. I would like to know about it. 

Barcelona Spain
Barcelona

5. Mayonaise sachets

Mayonnaise and Ketchup sachets… like why!? Why this crime 😉 

So whenever you go and eat fries, sausages and whatever, in Spain you get a little sachet. And I just can´t handle that haha.
I guess I am used to the luxury of the Netherlands where you get a whole scoop of mayonnaise, ketchup, or whatever next to your plate.

Even at McDonald’s, you get a small ´box´ of their amazing fries sauce. Maybe other people won´t like a scoop or a small ´box´, but a sachet.
Your hands will also get so dirty of it and you never get all the sauce out of there. Anyway, my 5 minutes of complaining is over. Spain change your sachets! 

The photos below are not mine, but here you can see what I mean with fries and the sauce next to it, not the annoying sachets. 

Dutch friet
Dutch friet
Spain friet

6. Traffic lights

One thing I very much had to get used to when I first drove with a car in Spain was the traffic lights.
Sometimes, when there is a green light for cars (which means they can go of course), they turn around the corner, and then suddenly there is this orange, flashing light, in front of the zebra lines. This means that is green for the pedestrians (they can go).

I did not know this in the beginning and I almost hit people, because I thought I could go. Going a bit too fast in a corner… no no no. 

Even when my parents met me in Sevilla, my dad rented a car. One of the first days he really almost hit someone, even after me telling this to him.
This orange flashing light is not something we have in the Netherlands. If you also don´t have this in your country and you will ever drive in Spain, be aware of it 😉 ´A warned person counts for two´ – as we say in the Netherlands. 

7. Plastic

A tiny, but at the same time, a big difference (that it can make for the world) is the offering of plastic bags.
Here in Spain at all stores, they ask if you want a (free) plastic bag. There´s, to be honest, nothing wrong with that. But when you look at The Netherlands, you will notice that plastic bags are not free anymore. 

Since 2016 free plastic bags are prohibited. So íf you want a plastic bag, you always have to ask the cashier if they can give you one. I think this is a pretty cool rule because plastic is reducing in the Netherlands.
But you have to remember to take a bag with you anytime you go out to a store. 

8. Dinner time!

For sure there is a big difference in the timings that people have dinner in both countries.
Where Spaniards eat between 8-10 PM, Dutchies eat between 5-7 PM.

I still don´t know why there is such a big difference between the two of them. But it might have to do with the Siesta in Spain and that people have a big meal in the afternoon, while Dutchies have a lighter meal.
At home, my mom always wanted to eat around 5 PM and before I moved to Spain, I did not have any problems with that. But after Spain, I also preferred it a bit later.

Now I live in Barcelona, I have dinner whenever I want, much more convenient 😉

Tapas Spain

9. Ventilation

The ventilation and airco´s in both countries are very special.
You might think that the winter in Spain is not that cold, compared to the Netherlands. This is true, but the ventilation in Spanish houses is literally to die for.

Every winter we need an extra heater, it´s sometimes better to be outside, where it´s even warmer than inside. All of this is because of the bad ventilation in the houses. In this house in Barcelona, we have a window in the kitchen. This is not a real window, because a part of it always stays open. You might think ‘what?’, yeah, I don´t know how to explain it. But you can imagine there is a bit of wind coming inside.

If this would happen in the Netherlands, you die. For sure. 

Then something I really liked in Sevilla, is the huge covers that covered the center in the hot summer. In Sevilla, it can get really hot and whenever you walk in the center under these covers, you felt the coolness in an instant.

I would love this in the Netherlands! Airco´s are not common there, because it usually never gets really warm in the summer, but the last few summers this has changed. 

10. Education

Then the last difference: private schools.
These do exist here in Spain but do not in the Netherlands. There they have only public schools, as far as I know. This also means that all schools must be good in the Netherlands (which I think is true) because in Spain they choose to bring their children to an expensive private school because the education is better. 

In Sevilla, I studied at a private school (due to Erasmus I did not have to pay the crazy amount as the others had to) and I can tell you, it was not the most amazing education I received. But I guess that is also an opinion, everyone can experience this differently. 

Below, you see my university in Sevilla 🙂 

Sevilla Spain

Tell me in a comment how your country is! Have you lived abroad and also noticed any differences, I would love to know!

¡Hola Guapo! ¿Want to read more about my adventures in Spain?

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