First week as a Barcelona resident (or tourist)

Boarding separate planes but headed to the same destination, Farima and I were off to Barcelona. No matter how many times I’ve done this before, I always feel a bit of sadness to leave home, friends, and family behind. I still get the same nervous anxious feeling about what I am about to embark on and it never gets any easier to say goodbye.

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Farima and I moved to Barcelona with every intention to live here, but finding a job has been slightly more difficult than anticipated. I know what you are all thinking…why would you go to a country with one of the highest unemployment rates in the world to try to find a job? Well I came here to teach English and based on peoples past experiences I didn’t think it would be that hard to find work. What I didn’t realize is that most Americans just teach private lessons (no need for legal papers). Because I have always thought about teaching as a career I might enjoy I had ideally wanted to teach English in a classroom to see if it was something I would want to pursue professionally.

After applying to as many language academies as I possibly could these past 13 days there are two things I’ve learned. First, it is extremely difficult to get hired without either EU citizenship or an NIE number (Spanish social security number). Most agencies would rather hire an EU citizen instead of sponsoring a visa for an American one. Second, it is significantly more beneficial to complete your TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate in Barcelona versus back in the States because most companies guarantee you a position after completion of the program. I am not saying it is impossible to teach English in Barcelona as an American citizen, but it is more difficult to teach at an institution, which is what I was looking for. After discovering it would be pretty difficult to land a teaching position, I started applying to various other jobs as well (call centers, google in the UK, etc), but not entirely sure if I would stay if I landed one of these jobs. Barcelona is beautiful and lively, but I wasn’t yet sure if I wanted to live here working at any job I could find. Therefore for now, I am focusing on only applying to language schools and if I am unable to find one within the month I will heading back to the States to figure out what’s next.

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Between looking for apartments and applying for jobs we have also found time to enjoy the city. Our friend Gui, who we met studying abroad in Italy, lives in Barcelona and has graciously let us crash with him until we figure out our next steps. He’s also been amazing at taking us to cheap awesome places to eat and to the best bars at night. Most people come to Barcelona for the nightlife, but I just can’t hang like I used to (not sure if I ever could). I love my sleep too much! Typically people start out at the bars, drinking and having a good time, then when the bars close at 3:00 am, everyone (except me) heads to the clubs where they dance until the sun comes up.

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Another big thing in Spain (in the US as well) is a dating app called Tinder. Our friend Gui is on it as well as a bunch of his friends. I was on in for a hot second in the states and decided I would try it out again in Spain. It is technically a dating app, but I thought why not use it to make friends in a new city. I only lasted a week and then deleted the app. For some reason I can’t get myself to actually meet people I chat with on Tinder. That was about to change, one Friday night, Gui had a Tinder date and I decided to tag along. Gui’s tinder date decided to bring along one of his friends essentially making it a double date. The best part is the friend was someone I had been talking to before I deleted the app making an awkward situation even more awkward. The double date didn’t work out for either of us, but made for a good story.

Most likely someone you know probably knows someone who lives or has lived in Barcelona, therefore making it easier for us to get some pretty good recommendations. Farima and I met my cousins fiancés sister (who lives in Barcelona) and her mom for lunch one day and picked her brain about places to eat, things to do etc. They were both so sweet and I was happy to know I could call on her if I needed anything. Another afternoon we met our friend, Sean, who we met in Brazil for beers and burgers. Our first week in Barcelona has been a good mix of job searching, apartment hunting, tapa eating, vino drinking, and nightlife experiencing. I’ll keep you updated on what’s in store next and the progress on the job hunt!

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