Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Barcelona, etc.
I’m Linn and I am from Norway. I grew up moving around, from Norway to Rome and to Luxembourg. I moved to Barcelona in 2006 for University with my best friend. I wanted to be in a Mediterranean country with a laidback vibe. After University, the plan was to go to London or New York to get a fabulous job. Instead I fell in love (with the city and a man) and decided to stay in Barcelona. That worked out pretty well as we got married last year. :-)
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
While at University I was approached to do the school blog. I would write about things going on in Barcelona and at school. Five years later, I started my own blog again. I work from home and needed a creative outlet. It started with an Instagram account where I wanted to share photos that I had taken. (I am one of those annoying people who makes you wait an extra 30 seconds to dig into your burger because I must get a photo first!) A few days later I decided I had too much I wanted to say to go along with those photos. I also have a really bad memory so it’s nice to document it all.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Yes! My favorite blog post I have written was about my experience going to international schools. It’s probably the most personal entry and something I wanted to share. I shared the post on my Facebook page and I got such great feedback, it really encouraged me to continue to write. I had an old classmate write me that he was going to show the post to his little sister who was going through exactly that. It made me feel so good that my experience could help someone and inspire them in some way. Show them that it’s all going to be ok :-)
Tell us about the ways your new life in Barcelona differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
It’s a little strange for me because I feel like I kind of grew up in Barcelona. I moved here barely 19 years old and now I am 28. It’s hard to think back how I felt and also Barcelona was very different then as well. I was used to the southern European laid back style and the “manana manana” the only thing that changed was that we used to say “domani domani” in Italy. I didn’t speak a word of Spanish and that was a challenge because seriously, NO ONE spoke a word of English. Now if I go to a café with friends and the waiter hears us speaking English, he may ask us in English what we wish to eat or drink. That never used to happen. Even just going grocery shopping was much different back then. You wouldn’t find a big diversity in products and restaurants. Now I just love it! It has become more international and globalized.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Barcelona? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I was such a free spirit and worry-free person when I moved here. It wasn’t the first time I would move to a foreign country but it was the first time without my parents. Nevertheless, I felt very confident and couldn’t wait to live on my own and be an adult. If anything, I should have probably taken some Spanish classes before I came. There were a few instances in the beginning where I had to for example sign language a vacuum cleaner (with sounds and all). They laughed at me in the shop but they did understand what I needed in the end.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
I always use the word Spainful whenever something just takes all your patience to complete. The other day I had to sort out a traffic fine and I was sent to three different offices all around the city. That’s what I would call Spainful! When simple matters become ridiculously complicated. Then you go have a coffee in a beautiful placa and all is forgiven.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Barcelona?
Try to pick up some basic Spanish. No matter how good you are at sign language, you’ll immediately feel less intimidated if you can order in a restaurant and get around the city. It will also come in handy when you are sorting out all your paperwork and contracts. (urgh)
Get lost — the best part of Barcelona is that you can walk everywhere. I love just walking in the small streets in the city center and getting lost, finding new places and hidden gems in the city. It’s the best way to get to know the city.
Patience, patience, patience. Yes, the cashier at the grocery store will have a 5 minute conversation with the customer before you about their neighbor’s dog. Just embrace it and don’t go shopping if you are in a hurry. It’s part of the Spanish charm.
How is the expat community in Barcelona? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I love the expat community in Barcelona. My closest friends are all expats and we share experiences and stories all the time. I moved here for University so it was very easy to make friends. However, when I started working and no longer had that student community it was a bit more difficult. The problem is that a lot of people move. Barcelona is such a temporary and transitional place for most people and it can get quite tiring to make new friends over and over because your friends only stay for 2–3 years. On the plus side I always have a full house in summer because they can’t stay away for too long and come visit all the time. Most people are away from their families so you naturally go through things together that normally you’d share with your family. Except here we only have each other so your bond becomes quite strong.
How would you summarize your expat life in Barcelona in a single, catchy sentence?
Barcelona allows you to live and enjoy life to the fullest.