What to do if you meet someone from Gibraltar
We are a rare breed, but just in case you have the pleasure
With a population of only 30,000, you’re not exactly going to be swimming in Gibraltarians in the UK. You may however be lucky enough to find one of us at University, because we all choose to study here. Or even a huge group of us, if the gods are testing your pre-drinking stamina. Though we are very welcoming and friendly as a people, here are a few pointers just so you make sure you get off on the right foot.
Do ask them where Gibraltar is
This is a question most Gibraltarians pretend to hate, but actually love. We are so used to being asked this that you’re likely to get a very well rehearsed reply, and more often than not we’ll answer a whole load of questions you didn’t even ask, or care about:
“There’s 30,000 of us (not counting the apes). It’s a really, really small place. We’re not Spanish. Everyone knows everyone there. It’s a British colony. We speak English and Spanish. We’re not Spanish.”
Don’t call them Spanish
We’re not. And unless you want a fiery, unimpressed Mediterranean in your midst, just don’t.
Do accept their invitation to dinner
We’re not exactly modest about it, but Gibraltarian traditional dishes (which are mostly variations of scrummy Spanish tapas but better, obvs) are just the best. You’re guaranteed the classic torta de patata (Spanish omelette), and if your new-found friend is extremely generous they might just share their precious supplies of Spanish ham and chorizo. That’s only if you’re really lucky though, because that stuff has to last us the term!
Don’t ask them why they’re wearing so many layers
Anything sub 15 degrees just is not worth going outside for. And because we’re forced to, we’re going to layer up like there’s no tomorrow. And we’re likely to be grumpy about it, so no poking fun, OK?
Do expect cheaply imported alcohol after Christmas, Easter and the summer holidays
Gibraltarian booze is as cheap as it comes, so while you’re wincing through Aldi’s own vodka, we’ll be sipping on some £7 1.5L bottle of Smirnoff and we’ll sometimes even splurge on some shots: £8 bottle of Jagërmeister anyone? Plan ahead and get your Gibraltarian friend to bring extra supplies back to uni with them.
Don’t complain about tuition fees or student loans to them
We can sympathise, but we definitely can’t relate. Us lucky lot get tuition and a grant from our very generous government – so if you hear us complaining about our cash situation you have serious eye-rolling privileges.
Do ask them to teach you Llanito
Llanito is our own little unique dialogue. You’ll never be able to use it with anyone other than a Gibraltarian so its pretty much useless. But you can learn a load of insults which can’t be Google translated, and it sounds ridiculous in an English accent.
Don’t pick a fight with them
Not because Gibraltarians are particularly hard, but because most Gibraltarian students hang around in packs of 10 or more, and when you live somewhere as small as our little peninsular, everyone is basically extended family. Before you know it, you’ll have a swarm of them surrounding you and that is not a situation you want to be in.
Don’t be freaked out if they greet you with a kiss
This doesn’t mean we’re coming on to you; it’s genuinely just our way of saying ‘Hi’. The amount of awkward greetings or introductions we experience at uni is incredible, because a friendly kiss turns into an awkward hug/handshake and it is just the worst.
Do try and bag yourself a trip to Gibraltar
If you’re really friendly with a Gibraltarian student you have to visit them, as it’s only then that you’ll understand their need to post frequent Instagram throwbacks of beaut views from up the Rock with the hashtag #missinghome. And their precious Gibraltarian flag they proudly display on their bedroom wall. Gibraltar can be super dull when doing the standard family day trip. Yeah, there’s a Rock, oh and some apes, but that’s about it. But if you visit with a local, it’s a game changer – it’s basically a free holiday, with guaranteed great weather, beaching and partying. Plan it well enough, and make sure you’re there on the best day of the year, our National Day, which is basically an excuse for a whole day and night of drinking and celebrations.