This September, I made a super exciting move to Barcelona for a teaching assistant gig.
I almost didn’t make it though… Imagine having a suitcase that was over 8 kilos and being THAT person in the airport struggling to balance out 2 suitcases with half an hour till boarding gate close? o0ooooh yeah same me neither.
Some tactical distribution and a £40 for extra baggage fee later, I got on my flight, put my music on and played Dolly Parton’s “Blue Smoke.” One of my favourite songs and the perfect ‘cya later London’ swan song. Give it a listen, you’ll see what I mean.
The song finished, and my bluetooth earphone’s annoying voice said the doomed words: DISCONNECTED. That’s what I was. In all the rush, I had completely forgotten to charge my earphones.
Alone with my thoughts during take-off, it suddenly occurred to me that I might’ve made a terrible mistake. What was I doing moving to Spain, where I knew not one single person and “YO HABLA POQUITO ESPAÑOL.” See…what was I thinking?
You’d think I might’ve had those doubts months before but no, only as the airplane rolled down the runway, and my flight neighbours – five, 40-year-old wild at heart besties (a Netflix original in the making) – pre-ordered 3 bottles of prosecco.
Now, 3 days in with my earphones fully charged, belly full of Spanish omelette and new friends forever, I can safely say that my worries were completely fair but mostly pointless. Here's what I've learned so far in 3 days of living here:
Duolingo lied to me and my Spanish is MAL (bad) af. (PS. Everyone speaks Catalan anyway.)
The creepy little owl that took hostage of my phone notifications for months taught me all the essentials… or so it seemed but language learning is a lengthy but important process. 82% fluent.. HAH.
Living here, it’s not so easy as a multiple choice answer between ‘manzana’ or ‘naranja’ as to which one is orange. And don’t get me started on what to say when someone asks you if you need a plastic bag after you’ve perfectly memorised your order and you’re forced to ‘out’ yourself when you have to answer ‘OH.. I’m so sorry I don’t speak Spanish, I don’t understand’. To which, the server probably still doesn’t understand because ‘we all speak too fast!’
PLUS, I moved to Barça, and Catalan is spoken more often where I live and work, so it gets even more complicated. But more on that later.
All you need is (food and family) love
The day after getting here, I was whizzed away to meet my new host family, the very next morning at 10am. It felt bittersweet. I’d just made all these new friends and I had to leave again to meet the family I was going to be living with. Maybe I was hungover, but the doubts came running back. OH NO.
This lasted for 0.5 seconds that was when I met my new fam, who welcomed me with open arms (and 2 kisses – Europe is great). A very lovely family, who spoke good but not extensive English and I tend to waffle a lot, nightmare. We drove to my new home, got in and I unpacked my things, wondering what this would be like.
The mum popped her head in my room to tell me that Paella was ready, and we ate ALL THE FOOD and planned some fun trips. Sure, it was a lil’ awkward and Google Translate was needed at many moments, but it felt like home.
I woke up the next day and they were already making jokes about how often I say ‘basically’. Muy Bien.
It’s so easy to make friends as an adult?!
This was probably my biggest worry. I’m a friend person and have been so lucky to constantly surround myself with lots of friends to hang out with in and outside of London. Now, here I was moving to a new country and no drama here: where I for the first time in my life had no friends.
CUT TO: Me arriving at the airport and almost finding someone else who was doing the same teaching program as me. Within minutes we were talking about how we were both in bits on the plane, hoping we’d make friends and discussing our fave Gavin and Stacey quotes (She’s from Billericay!)
2 hours later, we’d arrived at our hostel and we met more people doing the same thing and there was talk of a night out. There we all were stumbling round Barcelona sipping down Estrella and discussing summer romances like we all knew each other for years.
For every nervous you that there is on a plane, earphone-less and a lil lonely wishing Dolly Parton was playing, there’s another 30 teaching assistants all feeling the same. Or your equivalent.
There always will be. Tú Puedes, Chica/Chico!