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WELCOME TO GRAN CANARIA – First impression and culture shocks

On 31st of May I landed on the island of Gran Canaria to do my internship for 2 months. And as soon as I stepped out of the arrivals door, the culture shock was there waiting for me.

But what does this word even mean?

Definition of culture shock:  a sense of confusion and uncertainty sometimes with feelings of anxiety that may affect people exposed to an alien culture or environment without adequate preparation.


My flatmate was waiting for me at the airport and as I tried to give him a handshake, as we do in Slovenia when we meet new people, he gave me two kisses. I just stood there, not knowing what to do with my hands, with myself and what to say. CULTURE SHOCK #1. Throughout the day I met new people and I still couldn’t get used to kissing. Without thinking, I put my hand out to shake hands with the other person, while he/she grabbed me and gave me two kisses. At the end of the day I was terrified. I didn’t want to meet new people anymore, as I didn’t know how to behave properly. I needed a couple of days to get used to it. But I am still not completely accustomed to it.


After I arrived at my new home for the next two months, I had to go grocery shopping, of course. I love fruit and vegetables, especially in summer. I eat salad at least once a day, if not even more. As I love cucumbers, I wanted to buy some. When I went to the market, thinking that that was the right place to the freshest cucumbers possible… well, I realized that I was wrong. Everywhere I looked, I saw only weird sorts of cucumber, extremely long, strange shapes, AND WRAPPED IN PLASTIC! I would understand if I had seen these cucumbers in the supermarket, but not at the market, where the fruit and vegetables should be screaming FRESH. CULTURE SHOCK #2.

I LOVE cooking, so I prepare my meals at home and I hate buying prepared food. But apparently the Spanish don’t have time or just don’t want to do that. My flatmate just couldn’t understand my food choice and how healthy it is. It is the food I normally eat, what do you mean? When I took another look at our fridge, I got it. All that he had, was prepared ravioli, prepared salad, frozen pizza, salami and beer. CULTURE SHOCK #3.


After arriving to my new home in Gran Canaria, I didn’t see my flatmate for a couple of days. When I woke up, he went to sleep and when I went to sleep, he went out. When I finally encountered him, he asked me when will we get to hang out as I go to sleep early like a baby. I go to sleep more or less at 23:30, so I was just standing there, looking at him like WHAT? CULTURE SHOCK #4.  

After a week of staying here in Las Palmas, I kind of got used to the Spanish habits. But I was completely aware that for sure that was not it. There was more waiting for me. Even though I might not be utterly prepared, I was definitely not scared.

And what about you? Have you ever lived abroad? If so, what were your culture shocks? 🙂 

Nika S. 

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