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The Valencians

Valencia grew up as a regional capital of primarily agrigultural region. Family ties are still very strong and the Valencians pay a lot of attention to family life. You will notice how much stuff gets organised for kids. It is also a society based very much on social life and contacts - many things in Valencia still work on networking and the easiest way to get to know people is to know someone else who knows them. The Valencians enjoy a tranquil pace of life, quality of living and good times. At the same time, this is a big city and many people have their work ethics and are business-minded.

Perhaps it will happen in future, but so far the Valencians have not had enough exposure to get annoyed with tourists. You will be welcome to enjoy Valencia and you will meet many people who will enjoy helping you or giving attentive service, with no hidden motifs, just out of kindness. Smile. Keep in mind though that this is a big city and people won't be jumping around foreigners and trying hard to please like they have nothing else to do. While the Valencians are quite open and talkative, they do have their own busy lives with their own problems, and they have their dignity. They are also quite natural - if the person behind the counter is in a bad mood today (or always), she won't find it necessary to entertain you. If you come from a culture with standard-issue smiles and politness, this can be a slight shock. Don't take it personally. Try to appreciate this place where you are free to be whatever you feel like today. Next person you'll meet will be someone really helfpul with a huge smile, and only because they genuinely feel like that, not because they provide good customer service.

The Valencians are proud of their culture and their city. They hold on to their identitiy and to their traditions and they feel warm when you appreciate their city too. And it's hard not to appreciate this city, so it's not like you have to pretend. Just avoid the tourist mode - coming here expecting that everyone is trying to please you for your money. The Valencians are very respectful and won't pester you. But they do respect themelves also. It is not arrogant like in some places (we won't call names), just a quiet dignity. They won't think they are better than you, but they also won't think you are better than them.

Be aware that Valencia has a slight inferiority complex, having always been the third city of Spain. Most Valencians will try a little too hard to profess how great their culture is, and a small handful will act with superiority to other cultures. It is harmless stuff really, as long as you soothen Valencia's fragile ego and make sure you don't offend by complaining or scoffing at this city.

Valencia is a city of contrasts and this applies to the people too. Some interpret Valencianism as a closed society. Yet many come and stay here because they perceive the Valencians as the most open-hearted in Spain. Perhaps the explanation is in the fact that the Valencians have kept thier national identity intact and they have a strong sense of belonging, unlike in many other diluted cities, so the deeply ingrained Valencian way of life makes it that little bit harder to comprehend cultural differences and assume curiosity. Besides, Valencian nationalism has been a very strong factor in their recent struggle for basic political survival, as covered in our history section.

Be aware that the Valencians place a lot of importance on appearance. They tend to make all the effort to look good and they assess others in the same way. This is important to keep in mind if you go to offices or nightlife. Naturally, this doesn't really apply to Carmen, where in many places the dirtier you are the better.

In any case, if you act open and friendly you can expect to bump into plenty of people who will surprise you with their warmth, openness, helpfullness and cheerfullness. If you speak a bit of Spanish you can easily find yourself jumping from one random spontaneous conversation to another, all day long. Although the communication here is more reserved than in a small village (of course), you will still end up surprised that in a city of this size so many people can be so friendly and open.

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