Working abroad: working in Spain or in the USA - SpeakPlus - English lessons online

7 differences between working in Spain and in the USA

You want to work abroad and have an international professional experience but you do not know which country to choose ? Two weeks ago, our English coach Leigh told us about the cultural differences between working in France and working in the United Kingdom. Today, let’s meet our English teacher Sarah. Originally from Pennsylvania (USA), she now lives in Madrid (Spain) and tells us about the differences between working in Spain and in the United States.

Working in Spain or working in the USA - SpeakPlus - Language classes by webcamWhat are the working hours? 

Spain: The typical work week is around 38-40 hours a week, with around 8 hours a day. Sometimes this comes with a really long lunch break, up to 2 hours even.

USA: We have a similar work week, around 40 hours with 8 hours a day. Lunch breaks are typically much shorter.

What is minimum wage? 

Spain: Minimum wage is done by month, around 707 euros per month.

USA: The current federal minimum wage is 7.25 dollars an hour. However it depends on what state you live in. More expensive states offer slightly higher minimum wages, and specific cities can pay more for minimum wage because of the high cost of living. New York City and San Francisco are examples of this.

How many paid holidays can you take?

Spain: In Spain you should have around 30 days for paid vacations plus public holidays. (This is one really nice thing about working in Spain).

USA: This depends on the employer, on average it’s around 10 days vacation after one year of working for a company. You also normally have all major holidays off, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.

SpeakPlus - animer une réunion en anglaisWhat about the hierarchical relationships? 

Spain: In general, you start off pretty formal but can eventually work up to a friendly relationship, this honestly depends on specific situations. One big cultural difference I noticed was how friendly everybody is, and upon meeting someone, man or woman, you kiss them on the cheek.

USA: Again, here it’s pretty formal until you get to know someone on a personal level. Upon meeting someone though it is much more reserved, as there isn’t kissing, it’s usually a handshake and very professional.

What are the most important values at work?

Spain: I think the most important values depend on each person, but it seems like team work and ambition are really valued here. As far as punctuality, people tend to be a little bit more relaxed about it, depending on the circumstance.

USA: punctuality, audacity, la rigor, ambition, confidence, dynamism, team spirit… I think all of these values are really important, but again it definitely depends on the person/company.

Are there taboo subjects?

Spain: As far as taboo subjects, I think less is off limits but you still should be careful about talking about your salary, how much you pay for your apartment, etc.

USA: In the USA money is particularly off limits, and you should refrain from speaking about politics or other sensitive topics such as religion and relationships until you are closer to someone.

What is the statutory retirement age?

Spain: The average retirement age is around 65.

USA: It varies from person to person, but around 63-65.


About our English coach Sarah

Sarah Henschel - English teacher - SpeakPlus - English lessons by webcamMy name is Sarah, I’m 24 and I come from Pennsylvania in the USA. However, now I live in Madrid, Spain. I work part time at a private school teaching English. I first fell in love with Europe when I studied abroad in my junior year of college (university). I studied in Rome, Italy for a semester. I studied the Italian language and made the most of my time there. I also travelled to different Italian cities such as Pisa, Parma, Florence, etc. After returning home, I got a job teaching English in Barcelona. After my year in Barcelona, I moved to Madrid to teach. Madrid is an amazing city and the experience so far has been fantastic. I plan on teaching in Spain for many years to come.

I have always had a fascination with languages. I studied Spanish in high school and college. I also know some Italian. I truly believe that learning a new language opens the door for communication and the chance to really meet people. Being able to understand a second language is like being able to see into another world. I love teaching English because I feel like I can be a part of someone’s journey and I can help them achieve better communication with people. I love seeing my students’ progress, and it makes me feel great when I can see them apply what they’ve learned in the real world. I try and do everything I can to help my students enhance their English skills professionally as well as socially.

Do you want to follow English lessons with Sarah? Please click here to start your one-to-one language lessons by webcam!

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