Thursday, July 3, 2014

Barcelona Flow

Despite what you may think of this post's title, I will not be writing about hairstyles in Barcelona, rather the ebb and flow of time. Don't get me wrong, hairstyles here are pretty wild, but so is the way people treat time. Before coming here, I'd been repeatedly warned that the people who live here see it differently, that 'Barcelona time' is different from the rest of the world. Well, after a month here, I can tell you that it's true. Everything and everyone is more casual, more relaxed, more toned down. People hardly work more than 4 to 5 hours a day, and lateness isn't a real concept. Getting to work a half hour late, or even 3 hours late, doesn't seem to matter. Due dates for work are expressed as 'whenever' and meals are expected to be at least 3 hours. Sitting down for dinner, the custom is to get drinks and nurse those for an hour, then you order food. Eating is followed by more chatter, and then maybe a desert or coffee a good hour later. Finally, if you sat down around 7, you might be ready to leave at 10.

Last summer I interned near home, in Philadelphia, and like most American jobs, time was a precious commodity not to be wasted. Work had specific due dates, down to the minute, and coming in late was a sure recipe to get fired. A common quote I've heard, especially in public relations, is that if you're not at work on Sunday, then don't bother showing up on Monday. Working on the weekends here in Barcelona is considered anathema, it's a completely ridiculous prospect!

A busy day in Barcelona might consist of going to work from 9-2, getting lunch, and then relaxing at the beach, before dinner and a few drinks at a bar. I think to most people, this sounds like an ideal day, with more time spent relaxing and eating than anything else. Siesta time is very important here, most smaller businesses will be closed from 2-4 pm everyday because people are eating and napping. Actually sleeping at night isn't a big priority, because it's expected for a typical party-goer to be out until about 5 am or later. In fact, without siesta napping time, life here just wouldn't be possible, because there'd never be enough time to sleep!

Supposedly, the government is slowly trying to move people away from this relaxed work-ethic lifestyle, but it's such an ideal lifestyle that's so entrenched here I can't imagine it happening very soon. Plus, with all the tourists and visitors such as myself, the relaxed atmosphere is only added to. Check back early next week to hear about my 4th of July experience abroad!

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