Starting a new life in Barcelona


A huge, huge hello from Barcelona. Yep, hello, I’m actually blogging. After a four month hiatus, it was time for me to spill my words onto a screen and stop hiding.

barceloneta beach barcelona

But it’s gonna be a rambly one. Soz about that.

I’ve been living in Barcelona for about four months now, and, wow, it’s been complete chaos. In so many ways, I feel like I haven’t switched off since I’ve been here. Sometimes it can be quietened chaos, the kind that plagues you when you’re alone and all of a sudden your heart is beating outside of your chest for absolutely no reason and it won’t. slow. down. Sometimes it’s the obvious kind of chaos, of stressful lessons, of battling the shocking Spanish bureaucratic system, of trying to carve out a life for myself here and it’s all so much harder than I ever thought it’d be. Or something like that.

As I explained a few months ago, I never really planned this part of my life beyond the month or so it would take for me to qualify as a teacher. Having always been just the tiiiiiiniest bit neurotic, plan-obsessed, and unable to let situations simply take their natural course, this was a big step forward for me. Because fear. Fear had always held me back, repressed spontaneity . During my first few days here I met somebody who had a tattoo which read; “The fearful are the failing”. Those five small words were like tiny fireworks. I couldn’t stop thinking about them long after I’d bid goodbye to the owner.

flowers vilanova barcelona

But what did they mean? I was so scared in those first few days. I arrived late at night, groggy yet wide-eyed. I got into a strange car with a strange man to take me to a strange city where my strange new apartment awaited me. In the city, my incompetence in map-reading meant that I walked northwards instead of southwards, and I marvelled at the wrong landmarks. I took myself out for dinner, cried because I couldn’t find a bar that was – according to TripAdvisor – supposed to be excellent for English speakers. I promised myself I would learn how to read a map, properly this time, promised myself I would learn Spanish. I cried again because it was really windy and I hate wind. On the corner of Plaça Catalunya, I found myself crying because of the wind.

Clearly, I wasn’t crying because it was windy or because my map kept blowing inside out, or because I was sweating endlessly through my layers (yum), or because ohmygod I’m living in a foreign country on my own what have I done? I was lost – in the streets and in my mind. Foolishly, I had believed that everything would be almost instantaneously clearer in a new city with a different way of life. I thought that my path would be clearer and I would figure out answers to at least a few of the hundreds of thoughts and questions I had pulsing through my conscious daily. I know – I was asking for too much too quickly, and I had to give things a chance to settle; give myself breathing room to experience and relax. I had to interject this single-minded quest of solving each and every problem one by one, with just living.

These were the early days, and I’d love to say how much everything has changed now. Yes, I’m much more settled and I feel much more at home. I have a handful of good friends, great housemates, and multiple teaching jobs. But, I still have persistent doubts surrounding where I’m supposed to be, what I’m supposed to be doing, and when I’m meant to have answers for all of these questions.


At some point I realised that this part of my life is not about knowing all of the answers, but about coming to terms with the fact that I can never be certain that I’ll ever know them for sure. And I’m okay with that. I’m a lot more positive about where I am right now, and I have a lot more to accomplish here. I know that much.

There have been more challenges than I anticipated, a lot more setbacks, but I also know that I’ve grown in a lot of ways. I’ve persevered through self-doubt, made things work even when the tide was against me, and allowed myself room to be in situations where I couldn’t control everything. I’ve tried writing this post when I’ve been happy and positive, and also when I’ve been miserable and lonely; the end result was the same. I’ve made progress, and I’m certain there’s more to come.

AND, I promise that living here has been a lot more fun than this post lets on, and I’ll touch on that in future posts – how do samba festivals, beaches at 6am, and David Duchovny concerts sound?




4 thoughts on “Starting a new life in Barcelona

  1. I think we all feel like this sometimes even in our home city, well I do anyway! But you’ll look back on this time and be incredibly proud of yourself for doing something so brave that brought you so many opportunities, I for one have been inspired! Can’t wait to read your posts about Barcelona!


  2. Love this post Rhiân, thanks for posting it! Totally agree with Rachel’s comments.
    It’s really hard moving somewhere brand new on your own, especially when you don’t speak the language. I’ve lived abroad twice but both experiences were hugely different. The first time, I was in my 3rd year at uni and there were loads of students in the same boat. Then in 2010, I lived in Paris for 6 months (for work). I was there on my own and ended up bursting into tears a lot too. The worst was at an old school friend’s front door… only, she wasn’t there, her husband (who I’d never met before) answered the door. Also cried on the metro to work, because a really awful man was shouting horrible things at me and I tried to stand my ground. Once he’d disappeared I bawled. Look forward to hearing more about your time in Barcelona, such a gorgeous city! x


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