Happy in Spain
Blog by Jatta Kupias, August 23rd, 2019
After 18 months in Spain I am still a stranger but not as confused as I used to be
THERE ARE thousands of foreigners at Costa del Sol but, above all, the Fuengirola region is home for tens of thousands of Spanish. I think that is good to bear in mind when one enjoys lovely weather and good food.
According to UN’s survey, Finland is the happiest country in the world. However, after having lived at the Costa for a while I’d not offer the keys of our happiness to local people, or even to other foreigners.
I have noticed though, that Spanish and Finnish people are quite different in many aspects.
FOR A FINN I am – in my own humble opinion – not a slow person at all, but here I, as a rule, feel myself slow and speechless when the local people speak using their whole body. The other thing I have learnt here, is how Spanish people utilize all space available when walking on the pavement or talking with their friends they meet there. No way can they give way to others or walk one after another. I have to admit that for a person not wanting to ever cause trouble to anyone (=me) this was a bit annoying, but soon realized that it annoyed only me.
The speed reflects also in speech. I know some Spanish but that does not help me much in everyday life. When I am digging words from my memory, the Spanish person, I am talking with, is already bored and has switched into English or, alternatively, answers me with such a pace that I do not have chances to understand him. For my request “mas despacio por favor” (slower please) he reacts raising his voice or saying “si” slower and then returning to the normal speech immediately. In Spring I heard a great tit singing. I swear it sang “ti-tyy” instead of “ti-ti-tyy” as it sings in Finland.
THE FINNISH habit to be accurate and discreet is well known all over the world. In Spain you can by all means continue being like that but just in case it is better to also be prepared that your Spanish colleagues do not share your understanding of time or the etiquette. As a rule, the agreed time is only a recommendation and a start of the planning to show up.
Showing feelings is also very different. When a Finn becomes – if possible – more silent as usual when his feelings are hurt, the Spanish does not hesitate to show how he feels: when he is sad, he cries; when he has fun, he laughs; when he is upset, he shouts. Especially the latest paralyses us Finnish because we do not have much experience of that kind of behavior. But most surprising always is to see, how rapidly even the strongest outburst is forgotten and everything continues as it was. This is almost too much for the mopes like us.
IS THIS AT ALL related to the happiness I mentioned earlier? I do not think that the temperament has much to do with it. People here look happy and there are obviously plenty of different reasons behind that, starting from the pleasant climate. The Spanish sociability for sure brings happiness to the lives of the local people, but the most important, I think, is to be in peace with oneself. Nearly two years here have not made me a bit Spanish, and probably I will always be an outsider, but there is room for everyone here as long as we all stay tolerate.