Two years in – how Barcelona has changed me

Apr 25, 2013 by

A colleague of mine took the day off work recently. This wouldn’t have been noteworthy in itself, except that it was a random Wednesday, we were in the middle of a big project, and he was uncharacteristically cagey about the occasion.

After some gentle probing the next day, it turned out that Wednesday had been his one-year anniversary living in Barcelona.  He had wanted to mark the day with self-reflection. The females in the office cooed sweet things at him on hearing this. The men, meanwhile, rolled their eyes.

I smiled wryly at the sentiment, remembering my own one-year anniversary last April, and fast forwarding mentally to the second.

With mixed feelings.

A recent run of seriously dodgy incidents in Barcelona has put my commitment to the city to the test. After being attacked both in the street and inside the lift of my apartment building, it’s easy – and tempting – to write the place off as a ne’er-do-well destination. (Morten was right. These are scoundrel days.)

View from Barcelona observatory

Sure, from up here it’s shiny…

But hell, no-one said moving abroad alone was ever going to be easy, did they?

The Spanish me

Pours olive oil over everything. Mayonnaise, when it does put in an appearance, is reified in the form of ajo-laced allioli. If it can’t walk on its own, it doesn’t count.

Has a vague idea of what’s going on in the League. (Vague, mind.)

Automatically looks to the left first before crossing the road.

Tenses up instinctively whenever she hears footsteps quicken or someone breaks into a run.

Never wears a watch. Has the feeling that doesn’t matter.

Touches and hugs people constantly, even strangers she meets for the first time.

Unconsciously veers to the right on escalator queues.

Never watches TV.

Always clutches her handbag firmly to her lap in bars, restaurants, metro journeys, parties.

Scales at Barcelona Maritime Museum

Weighing up the options at Barcelona’s Maritime Museum

Has an irritating tendency to exclaim “Uff, qué frío!” whenever the mercury dips below 15 degrees. Centigrade.

Frequently finds herself questioning what day of the week it actually is.

Can not remember the last time she saw the iron.

Has seriously considered buying one of those little pull-along trolley things for the supermarket.

Has no qualms about using exclamation marks and effusive emoticons liberally in email communication.

Is inured to the chronic reek of dope on the breeze.

Never goes shopping for clothes.

Is no longer afraid of speaking Spanish on the phone.

Has packed away the microwave. Gluten-free frozen ready meals simply do not exist in Spain.

Is losing her grasp on the English language at a rate of knots.

Finds herself, for the first time in her life, questioning how to spell certain words. Responsible responsable? Cemetery cementery? Hostel hostal? Japanese Japonese?

Has discovered that it is physically impossible to eat lunch alone (some apparently deep sensibility of Spanish colleagues and friends prohibits it.)

Never saves any money. Ever.

Is genuinely starting to consider the possibility that chilly temperatures in and of themselves may cause the common cold. Despite undisputed science that says it’s a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract.

Will never get used to the sight of people scrabbling in wheelie bins looking for food.

Isn’t fazed by working with colleagues from every conceivable corner of the world.

Rainbow over Barcelona beach

Is, most of the time, on reflection, glad to live here.

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  1. I found this strangely accurate – after having lived in Valencia for just over 2 years! Bravo 🙂
    Lucy recently posted..benimaclet:

    Plaça de Benimaclet 1981My Profile

    • Thanks Lucy. How do you find Valencia?

      • It’s great! I also lived in Barcelona for a short while and sympathise with you on the impending-bag-snatch front. I was always very aware when walking near Plaça Catalunya/La Rambla – head down and walk fast is the trick – and not acting like a guiri! 😉 But it’s a LOT calmer here. When it’s not Fallas, that is…
        Lucy recently posted..PhotoMy Profile

  2. Hey Julie – a good list and go for the ‘.. little pull-along trolley things…’ you’ll find many uses for it (butano, taking loads to charity shop, street market…) Been thinking about my forthcoming anniversary of being an Expat which I shall be celebrating in the Picos up in Cantabria.
    Rob Innis recently posted..‘Barcelona is full of great offbeat festivals’ – The LocalMy Profile

  3. I have just relocated to Madrid from Australia and I can already relate to a few of your points – it has only been 4 days!
    Amanda recently posted..What to do in Spain for a year…My Profile

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