Hello dear fans, and welcome to the first of my, things I wish I knew before moving to series, where I explore some of my personal experience of moving to different cities and living there. It is my hope that through my personal experience, and in my state of wanderlust, will be able to help you, my fellow stofwander (this can pass for german! or something. Anyway, I’m going to refer to this in the future now as a noun to people who are in a state of wanderlust, as the former is much faster and easier to type than the latter.) Without further ado, let’s start with things I wish I knew before moving to Barcelona.
Actually, sorry, one last preface words. First, I just want to put it out there how much I love love love Barcelona. One of the best decisions I’ve made to move here and live here. Shoutout to my classmates and friends I’ve met and made there for making it such a wonderful experience. The 18 months went by fast. By far, the best city in all of Europe, and probably one of the best in the world. But, as always, not every city is perfect, so let’s start with my list.
Things I wish I knew before moving to Barcelona…how little English people spoke. This surprised me the most. I would have thought that at least the people’s English were as bad as my Spanish (took 3 years of it in K-12, and hadn’t spoken it in 10 years before moving to BCN). But it’s not even that it was bad, it was almost practically non-existent! I don’t fault it if the older generations (50+ couldn’t speak it) as they probably had no chance for be expose to it or whatever but the amount of 20+ people I met that couldn’t understand English period was truly shocking. Now, of course, I met a few that could, but the majority, nope. Nada. Not a lick of Ingles. This of course, makes trying to do common things like going to a bank (oh man..I’ll get to this later), shopping, hitting on girls, etc etc, quite tough to do.
Suffice to say, the first 3-4 months was definitely quite painful. I dunno. Maybe it’s me just being a self-centered American. Whatever. If I can learn a little bit of Spanish to even carry a 10 minute conversation, I’m sure the Barcelonian can. Now, of course, you would think my Spanish would get better right? It sorta did..except for the fact that…
Things I wish I knew before moving to Barcelona…that mostly everything is written in Catalan. For those of you who do not know, Catalan is the main language of Catalonia, which is the region Barcelona is a part of. Didn’t know that before I came. So here I am, going into a sandwich store, wanting to, you know, integrate myself with the culture, read the menu, and started trying to order in Spanish. Of course, I see the words written next to a picture of a lettuce, and so I proceed to use such word. Enciam. Now, it had been a while since I learn Spanish, so I just figured it means lettuce in Spanish. 2 months later, I overheard a Spanish-speaking classmate talking about lettuce, and using a totally different term. Long story short, I had been ordering subways in Catalan for over 2 months. Actually, I was ordering in Spanish, but using Catalan words for the ingredients. Let me proceed to bang my brain on the table.
I have nothing against the language itself (sounds like a combination between French and Spanish), but man was it hard trying to learn Spanish WHEN EVERYTHING YOU SEE AROUND YOU IS IN CATALAN. Oh, that street name? Catalan. That advertisement on that store? Catalan. Oh, that menu at a restaurant, it’s in Catalan. All of this definitely made it hard to try to integrate myself in a Spanish speaking environment. It’s made even weirder by the fact that generally, everyone speaks in Spanish. So here I am, hearing things in Spanish, but trying to read stuff and seeing it all in Catalan. I can definitely say that because of that, my learning of Spanish was slowed than if I had say, lived in Sevilla (Hell, traveling for 6 weeks in Latin America felt more helpful to my Spanish than the previous 6 months in BCN. See, I’m trying to learn!). Am I saying it’s impossible to learn Spanish by just daily life interaction in Barcelona? No of..actually, yes, yes I am. If you want to learn Spanish by daily life interaction, it’s probably better to go to a city that’s has everything in Spanish.
Things I wish I knew before moving to Barcelona…how the banks refuse to stay open past 2pm. That’s right. In Barcelona, the banks are opened from 9am til 1 or 2pm, depending on the bank branch. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them open on weekends either. True story: Walked into a bank branch at 10am, asking to see this one bank representative because she could speak English. Was told she was taking her 30 minute break. At. 10. A.M. These bank tellers must have the best jobs ever.
Things I wish I knew before moving to Barcelona…how bad customer service can be. Holy moly. I’m trying to remember any wonderful customer experience I received while dining out or through a service. Nope. Mind drawing a blank. It’s either worse, bad, or okay. But that’s just me. Some of the horror stories that my friends and classmates have had to deal with when it comes to trying to get their phone service, internet service, or their apartment money back is just mind shattering. It’s like these companies or people or whatever just do not want to do their job. I don’t know whether these companies do it just on foreigners because they know they can (refer to point #1 here), or if they do it to locals too. And if they do it to locals, why haven’t the locals been up in arms about this.
Things I wish I knew before moving to Barcelona…how everything that is a service seems to shut down between the hours of 3pm to 5pm. As we know, the Spaniards are well known for their siestas where they take time off to go do whatever it is people do during siestas. But, to be honest, from what I heard, the Barcelonians do not take that time to take a nap. No, they just take that time to eat lunch and relax before going back to work again. That’s fine and dandy..until it’s 4pm, and you’re hungry as hell, and pretty much everything around you is closed. Or when you need to do grocery shopping, and you find that the local grocery is closed for the next few hours. God bless you schwarma place near my home next to La Sagrada Familia for saving my life so many times when I was starving on a Sunday afternoon and nothing else was opened.
Things I wish I knew before moving to Barcelona…how beautiful the women are. Oh glory to heaven whoever made them must have been extremely happy. To say how beautiful the women of Barcelona is is an understatement. It’s not even just the locals. Barcelona, being a university city (I lost count how many universities are here), hosts many foreign students from other countries who come on exchange. Some from the other European countries, and some from the Latin American countries. And for some reason, the girls that come, are frigging gorgeous. I don’t think I’ve been to any other city yet that can compare to the eye candy that is Barcelona.
Things I wish I knew before moving to Barcelona…just how rampant small time thievery is here. The amount of phones and personal effects my friends and classmates have lost in a span of 18 months is astounding. I lost a phone myself (may you burn in hell whoever you are). If you are to move to Barcelona, you will most likely have something stolen from you. It’s just the way it is here. Why the local government doesn’t do anything about it I don’t know. Of course, Barcelona is an extremely safe city. A lot safer than other major European cities (Paris, London, etc). There’s a lot of pickpocketing and stuff like that, but in terms of actual violent crime or actual mugging, I haven’t heard or seen it. Except for this one time a galfriend of mine got punched in the face and got her phone stolen from her by the dude. Yeah that was not cool.
Things I wish I knew before moving to Barcelona…how racist some of the people can be. Well, okay, sorry, not racist, just plain ignorant. Definitely shattered my perception that Europeans are somewhat worldly. The amount of time I’ve had people called me chinese, make chinese mocking sound at me, tell me Konichiwa, make rude gestures at me, during my time in Barcelona is astounding. Then again, this is the same country whose olympic basketball team thought it was a sportsmanship gesture to do this. Funny story: I had a friend tell me that I was being too much with a stick up my ass. My response? Well then, I guess you should have no issue with me making a yawning gesture whenever I see you right? Cuz you know, all Spaniards are lazy and all right? She proceeded to defriend me. Speaking off…
Things I wish I knew before moving to Barcelona…people in other areas of Spain are definitely more nicer than the people living in Barcelona. Case in point: I was like a rockstar in Cadiz for carnival. Everyone wanted to talk to me and stuff. Even if they didn’t know English, they still tried. Didn’t happen so much in BCN. I always say this: The Barcelonians are one of the nicest and most awesome people…once they let you into their life. Before then? HA! Good luck with that shit.
Oh wow. Seems like I made Barcelona a horrible place to live. I think I’ll have to even this out with a more positive list next time. No seriously though, this city is frigging amazing. But now I’m afraid after all this, I might be banned. Nooooo. Don’t ban me! Okay. I’m done. Until next time, stay awesome fellow stofwander. Feel free to share this or comment on this below!
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