6 Ways Living in Barcelona Changed My Life

In 2014 I picked up my things and moved from the U.S. to Barcelona without knowing even a sentence in Spanish. I ended up living there for over three years taking trips to other cities throughout the country in my spare time. Needless to say Barcelona changed my life for the better. Here are a few things living in the capital of Catalonia has taught me.

Take life slowly

Ordering a bocata y cafè (sandwich and coffee) or waiting in line to check out at the grocery store can take an hour—I’m only slightly exaggerating here. I come from the land of impatience and “the customer is always right” mentality so, to be honest I was really annoyed.

In the beginning it bugged me to have to wait for something so trivial, but I started to realize a few small details. Many of the workers were chatty and loved making small talk or would catch up with grannies who have been shopping at the same store for years. Also, many places—like at a market stall—do things like clean a fish or cut off carrot tops for customers right on the spot. These things take time, but can anyone really be mad about them? It definitely takes some getting used to, but we could all benefit from taking life a bit more slowly.

Paella and Barcelona changed my life

Savor each meal like it’s your last

It’s true that Spain has some of the best food in the world so it’s no surprise that locals want to enjoy their meals. I used to eat on the go, either in the car, in between classes, or at my desk. Spaniards take the time out of their day to cook and sit down to enjoy and savor their food. A meal with friends is expected to last hours and no one at the restaurant will bug you to leave. So turn off the TV, and stop eating on the go!

The nights never end

It’s true. No one arrives to a club in Barcelona before 2 am—except for tourists—or leaves until after the sun rises. Going for breakfast is also usually involved in a night out. In summer when the sun goes down after 9 pm, it’s possible to hop from day concerts and town festivities to the nightclub and back like a never-ending party.

Barcelona changed my life, Catalan Estelada

Stand up for what you believe in

I was living in Barcelona during the October 1 referendum for Catalan Independence in 2017 which led to arduous debates, arrests, and protests. I joined hundreds of thousands of people in the city streets to express our disapproval against violence by the Spanish Government. It was incredible to see that so many people of all ages were willing to collectively stand up for what they believe in.

Enjoy the outdoors even in the midst of the city

Barcelona is a city of parks and plazas. Since it’s typically sunny, locals love to spend as much time outdoors as possible. Drinking a beer in Plaça del Sol, having a coffee on a terrace, or watching a free concert in Parc de la Ciutadella all bring back cherished memories.

Barcelona changed my life La Pedrera

Leave your comfort zone behind

I arrived to the city not knowing the native language, but I didn’t let that stop me. I was nervous at first to speak Spanish and made mistakes, but through interacting with people every day I began to feel more confident. At one point I even tried to start my own business, speaking with advisors and legal experts in my broken Spanish. Though it didn’t work out in the end, that didn’t stop me from pushing out of my shell and taking on something few people dare to attempt.

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