My sister took a quick glance at the hours of the hotel restaurant and saw 20:00 (8 pm) so she arranged her schedule to make it there by 7:30 pm in time to eat dinner. Only 20:00 was when they opened, not closed. Welcome to Spain!

It was a good reminder that we take so many things for granted — like eating in the early evening — and if we are hosting or interacting with people from different regions we need to be conscious not to make assumptions about even the smallest details.

The best way to learn more about yourself and your culture is to travel. Only then will you come to realize the habits you have and customs that are so engrained you never gave them a second thought. Using washcloths, putting ice in your drinks, large portions and jumbo-sized beverages, and even how to pronounce the letter Z. And, apparently, restaurants opening for dinner at 4 pm instead of 8 pm.

You can’t even know, let alone appreciate, what you take for granted until you encounter someone whose take-for-granted habits vary from yours. Until then, be confident that how you operate is not universal.

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