I arrived in Barcelona over a year and a half ago, and in that time I’ve blossomed from a camera wearing, map clutching tourist (no socks and sandals please) into a beautiful, um, guiri and with it being my last week in Barcelona and being the pensive and nostalgic girl I am, I’m considering all the things I’ve learnt from living in Barcelona, and all the things I wish I’d known.
If you look like a tourist you will probably get robbed.
From a girl who has been robbed in almost every barrio (I just need Gràcia and then it’s a full house) I can safely say that I now know what not to do if I don’t want to get robbed (it takes me a while to learn). If there’s one sure fire way to make sure you come home without your iphone it’s looking like a British tourist. To ensure you do this correctly make sure you’re sufficiently sunburnt from your day at the beach (nothing says I’ve been on holiday like that reddish glow,) recklessly drunk from too much sangria (when in Rome) and displaying at least one item of value.
Living with International people is a lot of fun
Nothing kickstarts your morning like a language miscommunication over your cereal and nobody tells a story like a person from a different culture to yours. Also, nothing screams free holiday like a friend in another country.
But finding someone from your hometown is gold
Living in an international flat you discover a whole load of new things, but when I moved into my new flat to find a boy from my home town I instantly felt right at home. When his parents came to stay they felt like my own and simply talking about your hometown with someone who knows it well can take away that element of homesickness. Also, really fast scouse is like a secret language.
Being on time in Spain doesn’t exist
There is a huge gap between 'Spanish time' and what us foreigners would call normal time, and the gap is usually at least 45 minutes. If somebody says to you ‘I’ll be there at 9.30 sharp’ what it actually means is ‘I’ll be there about midnight but I will bring alcohol.’ Don’t be surprised if you turn up to a party on time and the host is still sat in his underwear eating coco pops.
There’s nothing wrong with drinking beer from the sewer
If you live in Barcelona you probably discovered about two months in where your street beer was being stored. You probably recoiled in disgust, and then you probably continued to drink it anyway. It’s fine, bacteria is good for the immune system and beer is good for the soul. Enjoy.
Finding a decent intercambio is the best way to learn rude words
There are some words you’re not going to learn in your Spanish class, these include insults with real impact, sex toy vocab and types of contraception. For this crucial knowledge you need to get yourself a regular language intercambio, one you feel comfortable with and can have a good old chat with, and the next thing you know you’ll be talking about dildos before lunchtime. In another language. Get you.
Being tanned ain’t all that
Before moving to Barcelona I had visions of the beautiful bronzed goddess I would be, however I soon realised, being a self-confessed gamba, that instead of a tan to rival a Brazilian supermodel, the sun makes me red and peely. Now it’s factor 50 all the way, what’s better is that factor 50 always comes in a super chulo easy application bottle (definitely aimed at children).
There isn’t anything you can’t convey with an emoticon
Before moving to Barcelona I thought that everybod used emoticons sparingly and in an ironic fashion, but here they really are used to convey all sorts of things. Everyone knows that the epitome of flirting is a winking pully tongue face, and nothing says ‘see you at 9.30/I’ll be two hours late’ like a hearty thumbs up. Get involved ;p
PDA is A-OK
‘Get a room’ - said nobody ever in Barcelona, because here public displays of affection are just a natural part of life. A kiss on the cheek and a little bum tap will get you glares from angry strangers in England, but here dry humping against a set of traffic lights seems to go unnoticed.
So there we have it, nine little golden nuggets that I didn’t know a year and a half ago. They do say that as humans we are constantly learning new things, and now I’ll be going back to England much wiser. Still pale and full of germs from the street beer and let’s face it, probably 45 minutes late for everything, but still much much wiser. So, thank you, Barcelona.