Going on an LDS mission is an experience that brings much joy and requires considerable preparation. Here at Zion Bags, we want to help Mormon missionaries prepare ahead to succeed when they are in the mission field. To that effect, we will be posting weekly advice on the necessary preparations for elders and sisters going to each specific mission area in the world. This advice will be drawn from experience, official LDS sources, and guest bloggers. In continuation of this series, we will focus on Europe and each week will post about the countries within it This week: Spain. Feel free to ask us questions or give suggestions in the comments! We welcome your input.
A Culture Within a Culture – Galicia
Spain can be split into Northern Spain and Southern Spain. These regions of the country are considerably different, starting from the weather up to the social norms. Northern Spain, or Galicia, as any proud native will call it, is characterized by rainy, humid winters with little snow. The region retains autonomy from other parts of Spain, having been a separate kingdom in the past. Galicians, or Gallegos, as they call themselves, have a different accent from the rest of Spain, and their culture is more introverted than the one of Southern Spain. They tend to talk in a roundabout way, never arriving at the heart of the matter from the start, while the southerners are more likely to be straightforward and hot-tempered.
Here’s a great video to introduce you to the Galician language and people, as well as Spain overall. It features interviews with natives subtitled in English, which should help you get a good idea of the language.
The Spain We Know – Andalusia
The first few things that come to mind when thinking of Spain are the hot weather, dancing, and maybe even bullfights. These parts of Spanish culture are typically found in the Southern region of Spain, called Andalusia, or Andalucia by natives. This is the most tourist-populated region of the country, so expect to see lots of movement and excitement, especially during the summer months. The Andalusian dialect is spoken in most of Spain to this day, as opposed to Galician. The weather is warm and dry, with lovely weather throughout the year. Andalusian culture is much less formal and straightforward than Galician culture. The region has been a melting pot of different religions and ethnicities during the centuries, including Islam, Judaism, and Romani people, making for a unique and colorful culture. These influences are reflected in the language, architecture, and traditions of Andalusia.
What Remains The Same
We described some of the differences between the two regions of Spain, but what are the similarities? Below we list a few things that remain the same, despite the part of the country where you end up serving.
- Wherever you are in Spain, you will need to use public transportation. Start to become comfortable with the language of transportation and look up the different possibilities as soon as you get there.
- Don’t worry about bringing too many clothes or shoes (but do bring a durable pair), since you will be able to find most everything there if you do need a replacement. Granted, you will not have much time to shop, but don’t panic if the need arises.
- Do worry about bringing an adapter for your electronics. If you are bringing a camera that needs charging, or hair styling items that require electricity, you will need to bring an adapter with you to use them, otherwise they will burn out. Unless you plan on buying those things when you get there, you should be able to find a reasonably priced one on Amazon.
- Spaniards have a different attitude towards time. They value taking their time to spend with family and friends, and will sit down around a meal for more than an hour. Learning to appreciate this difference in views will help you work in harmony with investigators and members alike. If the area where you serve has a siesta – a time when stores shut down for a few hours because of the heat – being aware of it can help you plan ahead as to how to spend your day most efficiently.
Tell us what you think in the comments!