Moving to a new place can be a daunting experience. The bright lights, the constant hustle and bustle, one day hurtling into the next.
Coming from a small town and being thrown into the city lifestyle can ask a lot of a “culchie” as city slickers like to call us non city folk.
For my university placement year , I decided to move to Barcelona. As the baby of my family I was the last one to fly the nest and leave my family behind. I felt like I was ready to go somewhere different, somewhere new. My dad lived in Spain when he was at college and my sister had lived in Spain a few years previously and I wanted to be the next on that list of ex-pats. Nothing would do that I would get my placement in España.
After a long job hunt I finally found a position in Barcelona as a digital marketing assistant in a Video Marketing Company. As a city I had never visited before, it was scary, exciting and ultimately life changing. If the tough 9-6 job hadn’t been included in the placement year deal, I might still be there…! The prospect of 8 months in Barcelona was surreal, an opportunity of a lifetime, a brand new venture into the big bad world for me. Accommodation sorted, flights booked, job placement ready I was set for the Catalonian capital.
As a person who loves to always be in company, I found it incredibly hard adjusting to not having my friendship group around to have a cuppa tea or go shopping with. I didn’t like spending time on my own AT ALL. Over time though, I gradually grew to enjoy my own company, so when I did make friends in this new city where I knew NOBODY, it made such a difference to my lifestyle and my general mood. I never thought I would be the sort of person who could enjoy my own company but after this experience I definitely appreciate it a lot more. Even though making friends took me a little while to do, it was worth it in the end. My Barcelona family circle kept me going through my months abroad, whether they reined from Ardboe, England, Canada or Germany, each one made my experience so worthwhile and I now have connections in all corners of the globe!
Possibly my favourite part of my time in Barcelona was the impromptu exploring. No plans, no destinations, no expectations. Whether it was roaming the streets of the city or going to the train station and getting on the next train to a neighbouring town for the day. These days always seemed to just, fall in place.
Getting lost on the streets of El Born or arriving onto the beach side train station at Tarragona. From sampling “Barcelona’s best churros” to walking in the Roman ruins in a neighbouring town, our spontaneous day trips were always a great success. Constantly reminding us of how lucky we were to be living in this stunning city.
El Bunkers del Carmel, a showstopper and a hidden attraction. Whether watching the sun rise or the sunset, you are in for a truly beautiful natural spectacle. Birds serenading the sun as it set was the perfect evening treat for any visitor or local.
Putting aside all the fabulous aspects of moving to another city, I can’t forget about the homesickness. I did suffer a lot especially in the first two summer months. But this wasn’t going to let this stop me make the most of my time. It made me try something new. I joined Barcelona Gaels, the Gaelic team in Barcelona. This helped me find a bit of home in my new city. Joining the team was one of my best decisions. Running up Montjuic on a Thursday evening in 20-degree heat is undeniably a tough test, but an experience nonetheless! This team really made me feel welcome. The team spirit, the happiness for your teammates when they scored or even the craic on a team night out kept me going on those missing-home days.
As I look back now, I am thrilled that I moved. I’m happy that I persevered on the tough days, embraced the good days and can now have such happy memories.
I could talk for days on my favourite parts of my Barcelona, a city that will forever remind me of some tough days in work but an incredible myriad of memories that I will forever look back on with a happy heart. When I think of the girl I was before Barcelona and the girl I have become they are just worlds apart. With more independence, more appreciation, more perspective and more motivation, I’m glad I took that leap into the unknown and changed my life for the better…Barcelona style!
Barcelona, a Mediterranean city where new meets old, nature meets city and day meets night. Where buildings are art, food is life, work is play and every night is the night to meet up with friends.
Derbhla Evans is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/derbhla-evans-132417153/