The birds chirp happily in the mornings - it sounds just like spring.
Outside of the office I hear the lawn mowers and the smell of freshly cut grass makes me think of summer.
But wait a minute. It isn't summer. It is just an unusually warm autumn in Madrid. My associations from Sweden fool me.
To think of summer when it is actually autumn is harmless. I know what month it is, I can correct myself easily. But our associations may fool us when we meet new people too.
It is easy to perceive Spaniards as rude if you measure them by Swedish standards. They interrupt regularly and talk a lot without leaving space for others to say anything. In the same way Spaniards may find that Swedes are really hard to get to know.
Whenever I enter an elevator in Madrid I will be greeted with "Hola, buenos dias" and when I leave, everyone will say "Hasta luego". What a Spaniard will experience when entering an elevator in Sweden is silence. Possibly a small nod and a smile, nothing else. They might perceive that as very cold and rude.
In the project I am working in (with people from Sweden, Spain, the US and China) we have agreed about how to behave and what respect means for us.
We have agreed to NOT assume, because if you assume you make an Ass of U and Me.
This is not only valid when we talk about different cultures and different countries, It is valid whenever we meet other people.
Remember, what smells like summer to you, may be autumn for someone else.