Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live abroad?
This is one in a series of interviews with people who came from other countries to live in Catalunya. 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.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m an English teacher living in Barcelona, married to a Catalan and bringing up our child here.
How long have you lived here?
Are you working here and if yes, what do you do?
Yes, I’m an English teacher.
Three favourite things about living here?
Enjoying my family, my life and being a parent here. Enjoying the climate and the virtually permanent sunshine. Eating good healthy food and the whole experience of shopping and cooking fresh food (the clichéd Mediterranean diet).
Three things you don’t like about life here?
Corrupt fascist politics, politicians and businessmen. Pickpockets and the lax laws that make it easy for them to operate with virtual impunity. Mass tourism and the failure of the the city authorities to prevent Barcelona city centre from becoming a theme park (or perhaps that is in fact their goal).
What do you miss most about your ‘home’ country?
Being closer to my parents and family, and not being able to be there for them in times of need. The countryside, national parks and the smells and senses of being immersed in them. Being able to visit places I love with ease and frequency (ie. I can still visit from here, but the time I spend when I’m there has a premium to it which means I have to prioritise and therefore never get to do some of the things I love).
Three things you have learned about yourself or life since living in Catalunya?
That I can make it here, survive a new way of living, and come to love it. Many things unrelated to having moved here, but more to do with greater experience, wisdom, family and parenting, and having the privilege of living with a child and sharing their experience of discovering their world. That I had to stop eating croissants, ‘cos my cholesterol went through the roof!
What language(s) do you speak in your daily life here?
English and Spanish, whilst receiving but not producing Catalan.
Do you plan to return to your native country and in what circumstances would you definitely want to go back?
If I go back it’ll be related to caring for my parents, but not really for any other reason.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of moving to this country?
Take it easy! Don’t expect your own standards of efficiency or punctuality, equal opportunities (don’t exist) or health and safety (what’s that?). Give yourself more time than you expected to have to, to soak it all up and find your place here. Learn about Catalonia and remember that “Catalonia is not Spain” is not a tacky slogan, it’s a reality. Enjoy the adventure!
Have you read all six interviews? Were there any questions you would have asked these people about their experiences? Do let us know in the comments and I will try to do a follow-up later in the year.
This post is scheduled to be the final interview for the moment but I have some more people who would like to join in with their stories so perhaps later this year I will make space for some more. It would be interesting to hear from more men, and from people from different countries or who have been living here for many more years. Let me know if you would like to contibute.
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