Friday, April 3, 2009

It's a Matter of Time

A discussion with an American friend regarding our experiences since living here turned to time. No, not the time difference between here and Europe which is not a problem for us, but the different attitude to time.

Let me explain. In England (and please bear in mind, it is nearly nine years since we lived there), the day certainly runs later than here. For example, most non-clerical jobs would have an 8am to 4pm (or 5pm depending on lunch breaks) day, whilst clerical/office jobs would run from 9am to 5 or 5.30pm.

In Spain (in Andalusia at least) they were and presumably still enjoying the siesta with most stores and offices closing between 2 and 5pm and then reopening until 7 or 8pm.

Here the working day for most starts earlier and finishes earlier. I was amazed that in our experience an appointment at the doctor's office can be had at 7am, but usually not after 3pm or at the latest 4pm. In Spain our wonderful doctor took a siesta (good for him) and in England there was almost always an evening surgery.

School hours for kids are very different too, with school buses picking up on our street as early as 6.30am with them returning by 2.30pm in some cases. In addition, "year-round" schools are becoming more popular here in the triangle, although the reason for this is, I think, to utilize school buildings more efficiently.

Perhaps the best example of the changes we made is evening meal time. In England we usually sat down to eat at 7pm, in Spain 9pm, whilst here the norm seems to be 5.30-6pm, although we more often than not sit down at 6.30pm depending on whether we are attending evening events.

1 comment:

Lyn F. said...

Time is completely relative. :) Those who know me know that I always seem to be running late. If you want a Filipino to turn up at 7.00 pm, you generally tell them the party starts at 5.30 pm or 6.00 pm. Either that, or you tell them, "7.00 pm, American time."

I grew up going to year-round schools. The day started at 7.45 am, and ended at 2.15 pm. That included a 30 minute lunch break. If we had "zero" period, the day would start at 6.30 am.

As far as dinner is concerned - of late, for me, I have my dinner when I'm hungry, or if I remember it. Whenever I go out with friends, we tend to go for later dinner times, like 8 - 9.00 pm or thereabouts.

So perhaps I'm unusual in that respect. :)