Tag Archive | "working in Spain"

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The average work day in Spain

Posted on 03 February 2013 by American expat!

The average work day in Spain is negotiating its way between tradition–when no air conditioning existed, the country was poor, and business was 99% local–and the present day, which sees multinational corporations making Spain their home and the technology industry pulling the old corporate culture into the global economy. This means people work long hours, but it doesn’t resemble any North American “arrive early, skip lunch, stay late” kind of definition of working long hours.

Let me explain.

A typical working day starts later her, as people get out of bed late. I am aware that there are cafes that are open by 7 am, maybe earlier, though I’ve never been out at that hour to witness this, because of where Spain sits on the edge of a timezone, at 7am the sun is barely up.

Most people head off to the office around 9:30 or 10:00, which means they are dressed and making their way there by foot, bicycle, scooter, metro, train or less often, by car. This typically includes a stop on the way for a short coffee, maybe even with some brandy in it if the night was particularly rough. Then it’s time for some real productivity, before a breakfast break around 11. If the job is a blue collar job, and thus begins a bit earlier, the employee will stop at 10:oo or so for their breakfast, which may or may not include a beer…because its helpful to be relaxed while working with tools and heavy machinery.

Lunchtime is siesta time

14:00 (2pm) is siesta time. In the cities, this means lunch, because a journey home for a real siesta would take far too long. But it is still called siesta and it lasts anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours. Most workers head off to a restaurant with coworkers or friends for a big meal, as lunch in any local restaurant is a three course affair, (sometimes four) called a menu del dia, and includes beer or wine and a coffee at the end of the three courses. So naturally you’d need at least a couple of hours to be served and then ingest all those courses.

8pm is still considered “afternoon”

After lunch it is back to the office to work straight through (although supplemented by several smoke and coffee breaks) until between six and eight, when they call it quits. Although it is not unusual to see offices with people still in them at 9pm. This naturally pushes dinner to much later than what we in the US might be used to, thus, extending the length of the day. In fact, up until about 9pm is considered “afternoon”.

Life happens after work

Most office workers hurry home after work to have an actual siesta before they run, hit the gym, bike or rollerskate along the ramblas – open spaces usually between main streets running both directions in the centers of town, with trees, benches, bike paths and lots of space. Or folks will exercise and then take a siesta and get ready for their evening, which is more often than not spent with other people – in bars, cafes, for a paseo through town, maybe dinner, sometimes out until very late (3:00 or 4:00am), but just out – to meet with friends and be with others. Then it’s finally to bed whatever time they collapse into it (though it is most certainly well after midnight). Then they do it all over again the next day. The norm seems to be to catch up on sleep by snoozing most of every Sunday, waking only to have a big meal with the extended family.

Summer Hours in Spain

In August, if a business does not actually close for the entire month, then they at least go on “summer hours”. This, and the closing of business, is to deal with the heat. August heat can become unbearable in the cities, and while offices have air conditioning now, this is a left over relic from earlier days when it did not exist – or the company just couldn’t afford it. Work during summer hours begins earlier, loosely around 8:00 am  and ends at 15:00 (3pm). The rest of the long afternoon is spent at the beach, park, or going to and from said relaxing places where a siesta is almost certainly involved.

It is usually one of the biggest adjustments when spending any amount of time in Spain, and it can take years to acclimate to the drawn out working hours and long nights. But one thing is certain if you want to adjust into the Spanish timetable – you must master the siesta.

siesta at work

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Working in Spain

Posted on 05 April 2012 by American expat!

 Working in Spain as an American citizen is harder than you think

On the other hand, it’s also easier than you think.

What do I mean by that? First, if you plan on coming here and finding a company that will sponsor you with a work visa, you can forget it. Unless you are already working for a company in the US that has an office in Spain, you won’t get a work visa. Even if such an unlikely thing were to happen, you would have to return to the US and wait 8 months to one year to process said visa, since they must be issued in the country of the citizen and not in the country offering the job. The reason why you won’t get a work visa is that there are plenty of native English speakers with the same skills you have who are EU citizens and can legally work in Spain already – the British.

On the other hand, if you are planning to teach English, there are a mountain of jobs waiting for you. Based on what I hear from others, many language schools are happy to pay you under the table. If you are uncomfortable with that sort of arrangement, you can always go freelance and give private or group lessons on your own. This such a common practice because so many people here do not speak English and the globalization of business is making it an extremely desirable skill. So most teachers will take on private students of their own at one time or another, whether the teacher has a NIE (equivalent to a SSN) or not- Though you really do want to get yourself a NIE, because you need it for nearly everything.

Another option that will allow you to work is through a student visa. You can work legally on a student visa for 20 hours.  If you are planning to learn Spanish anyway, this will be your best bet.  There are no fewer than 20 Spanish language schools of varying in prices with a variety of classes, schedules and course lengths (note: you generally get what you pay for with Spanish language schools) and all of them will help you get a student visa.

Note that you have to apply for the visa  at the closest Spanish embassy to you while you are in the US after you have paid the school and have the paperwork. Plan at least four months and many trips to the Spanish embassy to receive it.  Once you get to Spain you’ll want to talk to a employment lawyer to see exactly which steps you need to take for authorization to work on a student visa. But don’t worry, there are plenty and they aren’t too expensive.

Also note that there is no way to expedite anything in Spain. (See my many posts regarding work and work ethics here, and do not miss this youtube short about a freelancer doing battle with the system!).

You can always come here on tourist visa –which is for three months and you automatically have one if you have a US passport–to check things out while you figure out what to do. I’m not advocating overstaying your visa, but I will say that I know more than one American that has lived here without any sort of residency for over five years and only leaves the country maybe once a year.

Once you have figured out your strategy, there are plenty of places to look for jobs.

  • As a rule, always check loquo.com, kind of the local version of Craiglist, first. You will use this site to look for everything from jobs, to apartments, to vehicles to – well just about anything. There is an English version and you can search for any term in the job listing category you want.
  • Check out the Indeed.com job page for this site.
  • Look at the job listings under the Barcelona Professionals Group on LinkedIn (you have to join first, both LinkedIn and the BCN Professionals Group to see the job listings).

Otherwise, get to know people and meet their friends and colleges. You will find that others will be happy to introduce you to others and most socializing takes place in public rather than in private homes, so before you know it, you will have a circle of like minded people to network with.

 

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