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After 3 1/2 years in Spain there is still one thing I can’t get used to. People standing too close to me.

I’m Finnish and I like to have my personal space. I like having people at least an arm’s length away. I get nervous when people come too close, even if they are people I know. I look around, everywhere but not at them, and I just have to take a step back if I can’t stand it anymore. Here in Spain people like to stand really close to each other when they are talking, and nobody seems to mind. Except for me. I sometimes feel incredibly rude when I take a step back when someone is talking to me. But usually they don’t seem to mind, they just take a step closer…

In public spaces this can be bothering, too. People sometimes stand very, very close to you in the metro or on the bus. Although this might also be because your going somewhere during rush hour or because the are pick-pockets. Both are equally as likely.

Well, even Wikipedia agrees that in the Latin countries people tend to be more comfortable standing close to each other, whereas in the Nordic countries the opposite is true. You can read more about proxemics here.

(source: Allan Rostron)