Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in Catalunya?
Or just to move abroad?
This is one in a series of interviews with people who came from other countries to live here. I asked them the same questions that people often ask me to see what different stories emerge. You can read them here over the next weeks.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’ve been here for 11 years with my partner and children, following my partner’s quest for lifestyle change. Thought I’d integrate once I mastered the language, didn’t realise how big culture is in the way we live and feel. I like the outdoors so love the chance to live outside more, but I hate the hot summers.
Are you working here and if yes, what do you do?
Yes, run a small rural tourism business from our home. Volunteer with Age Concern in Spain (previously professionally employed in the same field). Give shelter to abandoned animals.
Favourite things about living in Catalunya?
Diverse environments and mainly wonderful weather, going skiing in winter, not working 9 to 5, tactile culture and gentler, safer environments in which to bring up teenagers
Three things you don’t like about life here?
Bureaucracy, managing culture differences and feeling like an outsider more often than not, having less real friends less often. The flipside of not working 9 to 5 – longer hours, difficult work/life balance and being less financially secure
What do you miss most about your ‘home’ country?
Retailing- supermarkets with lots of choice and competitive pricing. M&S, TK Max, boot sales and charity shops- but the odd visit deals with that; popping in to see friends and family, familiar landscapes
Three things you have learned about yourself or life since living here?
Life is short so trying new things and getting out of the comfort zone is worth it, maybe. ‘Can do’ attitude definitely required as challenges abound. Real friends and shared cultural references are really important to have from time to time. Recreating or rediscovering your identity takes a time.
What language(s) do you speak in your daily life?
English, Spanish and understand Catalan which is spoken to me a lot. Plus French and German for the business.
Do you plan to return to your native country and in what circumstances would you definitely want to go back?
Not really, but aware that practically, if you have health problems and not enough resources to pay for care, ensure you have a reliable advocate, this is not a good place to be. I guess if I had no family here, I might be persuaded to go back if my immediate family were there.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of moving to this country?
Plan well, and assume you (and any partner) are mortal, so include that in your planning of eventualities. Expect there to be at least as many challenges as opportunities, downs as ups etc.. Give yourself an escape route, in case it doesn’t work out. Learn Catalan
This is one in a series of interviews which I will be posting over the next few weeks while I am walking the Camino. When possible I will also send short updates from my phone on how the walk is going.
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