Spain: Work to Live, don’t Live to Work


“Work to live, don’t live to work.” Almost through my third week of interning in Valencia, I have very quickly learned that Spaniard’s do not stray from that motto.

It was a big shock to me to find that Spaniard’s take a 2-3 hour lunch break. Every day. I can’t complain though, because that means my work day ends at 2 pm every day. In addition to this break, there is another daily break around 11, for 30-45 minutes. Even when there is plenty of work to be done, these breaks are never forgotten.

While it was surprising at first, I have come to respect this tradition. And not just because shorter work days are always nice. Obviously, some work tasks require complete dedication of time and focus, but work should not consume your life. Before spending time in Spain, I never put much thought into how many Americans are consumed by their work. While this probably leads to high productivity, how much does it jeopardize the quality of work? Taking breaks and not taking every task so seriously allows for consistent fresh perspectives, and the ability to greatly improve work successes.

All of this being said, this attitude has definitely caused some difficulties in my work life while here. The relaxed attitude is great and all, but when my supervisors show up 45 minutes late to work without telling me, I get just a bit frustrated. While this may be partly due to the fact that I am just an intern, and probably not always considered when making decisions, it is still difficult to deal with.

All things considered, I will absolutely leave Spain with a new outlook on working life. Though I may not go to such extremes as showing up 2 hours late, or sometimes not at all, I know that I will strive to not let my work consume me, as many Americans do. While this is a pretty personal goal, I also hope to spread this to others when I enter my professional field. I have truly come to believe that with more balance in this sense, individuals will have greater success in both their personal and professional lives.

This new motto is just another addition to the constantly growing list of incredible lessons Spain has already taught me, and I cannot wait to see what else I discover in the coming weeks.

Till next time,


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