I have ranted and raved about how much I adore living in Barcelona, and that is true. I am obsessed with this city. ❤ I have absolutely no regrets about moving here. However, Spain and the U.S. are so different, so moving here did involve some lifestyle adjustments, but many are just #firstworldproblems that are a result of me being fortunate enough to grow up where I did.
Lifestyle Adjustments in BCN (in no particular order)
- No Dryers–No one in Spain has a dryer in their apartment. This might not seem like a big deal, but there is no such thing as “Oh crap I have no clean underwear, let me do a quick wash.” That wet laundry takes a minimum of 1.5 days to dry (for things like underwear) and 3 days (for clothes like jeans and sweaters). It requires patience and planning ahead, neither of which are my strongest qualities. This is definitely a #firstworldproblem.
- No Ice–Seriously, no one uses ice here for anything. I am the girl that drinks iced coffee when there is snow on the ground. In the states, I refused to drink water without my cup full of ice. I even avoided red wine because I couldn’t stand drinks that were room temperature (That has since changed). I miss ice almost as much as I miss Chipotle. This is also a total #firstworldproblem.
- The walls in the old buildings are paper thin– I guess I should have assumed this because the buildings here are so old, but the walls here are paper thin. I don’t think there in insulation in them either (and if there is, there isn’t enough), because I can feel drafts through all windows and doors. I also can hear every single noise in the apartments. I had my ITunes on low in our common room, and could still hear Justin Bieber’s magical album when I walked through 3 large rooms to the kitchen. As a result of the buildings being so old, there is constantly construction going on in the Gothic Quarter where I live, resulting in very unpleasant noises that wake me from my slumber in the mornings.
- Everyone Smokes– Yes, I know that I am lucky to be a part of a generation where we have an abundance of health information and are able to make informed choices about which “vices”, if any, we want to partake in. Yes, I am aware that smoking is an addictive habit and is very difficult to stop once you start. HOWEVER, in Barcelona, I would venture to guess that about 70% of people (everyone was bit of an exaggeration, but a TON of people do), of all ages—young, middle-ages, and old, smoke. I thought that a lot of people in the states smoked, but here is a whole new ball game. To be quite honest, I normally don’t care about the personal health choices of others if it doesn’t affect me. Of course, I’m not a huge fan of smoking but I’m not going to tell someone off for doing it. But, at least 4 times a day here, I get a whole face full of someone else’s smoke to breathe in. People do not consider the other people walking near them on the streets when they smoke. I cannot even count the number of times people have almost dropped cigarette butts on my feet or have blown smoke directly in my face. People even sneak cigarettes down in the metro stations where there is no where to get away from it. People need to have a little more consideration for the people around them. RUDE. I always want to say something, but I don’t think my Spanish is good enough for me to be sassy and sound intelligent in an argument with a native speaker.
- Siestas– My definition of a siesta has changed. I originally thought it was an afternoon nap. If you had asked me whether I would be a fan of a mandatory daily afternoon nap in the United States, I would have told you YES whole heartedly. However, here in Spain, it’s not really a nap per say, more like a complete break in the day for people to do whatever they feel like doing. Sure, it’s great for the shopkeepers who get 2 hours in their afternoons off to chill out and relax. But, as an English teacher with a crazy schedule, I spend most of my free time in the mornings between classes planning for my night classes. And, when do I need my lessons printed? Oh yeah, BETWEEN 2 AND 4 IN THE AFTERNOON. There have been too many times to count already where I am SPRINTING from the Starbucks to the print shop before they close at 2. And, I have not gotten to experience the joy of an afternoon nap yet. Hopefully I will soon.
Best Things about Life in Barcelona:
This list could go on and on, but I’ll give a brief overview (also in no particular order).
- Public Transportation– In Barcelona, the public transportation system is a godsend. I can get virtually anywhere in the entire city and surrounding areas within a half hour. This is partly due to the size of the city, but mostly because public transport is AMAZING. It is always on time, there is a screen at every station that tells you exactly how long it will be until the next metro/bus/train, and it is rare for metros to be longer than 3 minutes apart. I feel like I have spent half of my life waiting for public transportation in Philadelphia. The metro especially makes my life so much easier.
- Food– I could sing the praises of the food here ALL. DAY.LONG. You can buy a 4 course meal here for 10 euro, sandwiches are 3 euro, and coffee is always less than 2 euro (except at Starbucks where it is ungodly expensive). Aside from the very reasonable prices, the food is healthier, tastes fresher, and doesn’t have as many additives in it. Portion sizes are smaller, but while that took some getting used to (along with the eating schedule), I have become used to the smaller meals. Tapas are a way of life. Speaking of tapas, I want to give a shout out to patatas bravas and café con leche which are my favorite tapa and my favorite coffee, respectively.
- Alcohol–While wine is not usually cheaper than water here, the price comes pretty damn close. Nice wine for 3 euro? I’m IN! I don’t think this needs any more explanation as to why it’s awesome.
- Daily Schedule–The eating/time schedule in Spain is completely different than the one in America and I am still getting used to it but I think it is great. Since my life revolves around mealtimes, let me give you a short rundown of a typical day in Spain (which also revolves around food).
- 9am- Wake up and eat a small breakfast (a yogurt of bowl of cereal)
- 12pm- Eat a sandwich for 2nd breakfast
- 2-4 is the daily siesta (noted above as time to do whatever the heck you want)
- Around 3:30 or 4= eat lunch, which is usually the largest meal of the day.
- 9-11pm = Dinner time
- After dinner, on the weekends, many people take a long nap to prepare themselves for the night, because people here do not go out until after 1:30 in the morning because clubs are open til 6am.
For me, in between all of this eating, I do actually plan classes and teach. It’s not all good food and siestas here.
- European Football (Or Soccer, for my American Friends)–The beauty of soccer in Barcelona is that FC Barca is amazing. I have never experienced being a fan of a team that was actually good (sorry Eagles—you always suck, and the last time the Phillies were good was almost 8 years ago so it’s been a while), so watching and attending soccer games here is a really fun experience. Barcelona soccer fans are just as passionate as Philadelphia Eagles fans, but are less obnoxious. Plus, Camp Nou is amazing. It holds almost 100,000 people which is WAY bigger than any stadium in the US. I attached some pics from my first Barca match, which was an awesome experience
- Nature & Architecture– Barcelona is a beautiful city. It is the perfect balance of beach, mountains, and metropolis. From my apartment, it takes 20 minutes to walk to the beach, 30 minutes by public transportation to access hiking trails, and in between all of that is a spectacularly gorgeous city. The unique architecture of Gaudi, coupled with many eclectic buildings, beautiful iron work, and clean streets make Barcelona an amazing place to live.
- Weather–A large reason why I decided to stay in Barcelona was because of the weather. People here joke and ask me if it’s always sunny in Philadelphia (HA.HA.), but honestly, compared to the weather here, Philadelphia is just plain gloomy. It has drizzled once, and been cloudy maybe 3 days since I arrived in Barcelona in November. I really thought that this beautiful weather was a fluke, but I’ve heard that this is pretty typical. On the days when Philadelphia received 2 feet of snow, it went up to 65 degrees here with no clouds in the sky. J I’m super excited for when it gets even warmer.
- Sunsets– This goes along with the beauty of nature in Barcelona, but I think the sunsets deserve their own category. They are spectacular. There is no need to elaborate because I think the pictures speak for themselves.
That’s all for now, folks! Time has been moving so quickly here. I can’t believe I’ve been out of the U.S. for over 3 months. SO WEIRD. It’s going to be September before I know it and I’ll be back in Philadelphia starting school. This realization has prompted me to get a move on planning more trips. I’m heading to Madrid this weekend to explore on a spontaneous whim I had yesterday, so I will update everyone about my adventures in Spain’s capital next week! Adios amigos!