As promised, I am asking to international travellers and people living and working in a foreign country to share their life stories with me to know why they decided to leave families and friends behind to explore new realities and meet new cultures!
Are you curious about how they managed to adapt and settle in their new countries? Then follow my expat interviews categorised by country! Are you an expat wanting to share your tips and experience with the rest of the world and be a source of inspiration? Then fill in the expat interview form: I would love to hearing from you!
“Travelling—it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” Iba Battuta
Let’s meet Alex: the first expat to tell us her experience
Introduce yourself briefly. Tell us who you are!
Hi, my name is Alex. I’m 29 and I come from Aix en Provence, a lovely city located in South of France, near Marseille.
I love travelling so I obviously decided to make my career in Tourism and I decided I wanted to live abroad for some time and experience foreign countries living like a local!
Why did you move to your current country?
I decided to move to Spain first of all because it was a good challenge for me to prove to myself that I was able to be independent. Secondly, I have a special crush for Mediterranean countries. Maybe it’s because we all share similar cultures, good climate, tasty food and the passion for the sea above all!
I studied Spanish at school and I fell in love with it so I was curious to discover this country and its culture improving the language at the same time.
What do you do for a living? How was the job hunting?
I found an opportunity to go to Barcelona in occasion of my first internship at the Tourism High school. Finding a job in Hospitality during high season is one of the easiest way to travel earning a wage, improving the language and to meet new friends! I applied on Indeed and after a Skype and telephone interviews, I started to work as hotel receptionist in a 5* hotel. The downsize is that the salary was very low so you can’t really put aside money but it was a great experience in any case, mostly thanks to my Spanish colleagues who were very kind and helpful all the time!
How is the social life in your city, is it easy to make friends?
Barcelona is a dynamic city and Spanish people are very friendly. Even if Catalan people have a reputation for not being keen on socialising with foreigners, it is absolutely not true!
To be honest, I found it quite easy to make friends: people are easy to talk to and quickly integrate foreigners in their social life.
Why should people move there? Why did you fall in love with this place?
Barcelona and Spain in general are much more than good weather and parties.
There are many beautiful landscapes (not only along the coast), rich culture, exceptional heritage and very good food (even if it is not very healthy =D). People are generally very smiling, open-minded and generous. It’s truly a good place to live in.
What do you want to say to people looking to move there?
Do not hesitate, just GO! Spain is a tolerant and friendly country where expats are welcome and you will make friendships that will last a lifetime! Barcelona is the place to be from an architecture, nightlife, history and cultural points of view! Big bonus: you will learn one of the world most spoken languages!
How is the health system? Is it a safe place to live in?
It is generally a safe place, but as all big cities, you have to be careful to your personal belongings in public places. I was impressed with public transports which are very efficient and clean. Healthcare is free if you work in Spain and you are assigned a health centre close to where you live booking consultations with highly qualified doctors.
How is the general cost of living, what is the average rent?
Barcelona is one of the most expensive cities in Spain. However, food is economic and if you avoid tourist places preferring areas where locals normally go out, then it is affordable. As for rents, sharing a room in a flat costs 400-500€ per room per month which is expensive considering the salaries. Even if Barcelona is a big city, it’s cheaper than France so even with a small budget, you can have a great time here.
Tell us something you don’t like about where you live and the difficulties you came across when settling in.
At the beginning it was quite difficult because people are used to talk in Catalan.
For a foreigner learning Spanish, it is very destabilizing! In time and if you show interest, it’s an opportunity to learn an other language!
Did you know about the French movie “L’auberge espagnole” – the Spanish Hostel?! If not, watch it! If you move to Barcelona, be ready to share your apartment with a lot of people! It could be hard sometimes, especially if you need your privacy, but it’s surely a good way to meet new people!
Tell me an unmissable thing to do in your city over a weekend
One of my favourite places is the Ciutadella Park. It’s a peaceful place where you can have a break from the chaos of Barcelona and it has a nice atmosphere! It is great to visit it by bike and you can pop to the zoo nearby.
There is also a lake where it is possible to rent a boat for a romantic moment or take pictures and get refreshed in front of the magnificent fountain, one of the symbols of Barcelona. If you only have a week-end here then be sure to visit the following places:
Plaza Cataluña, Las Ramblas, Bario Gótico, Plaza Real, Plaza España, Paseo de Gracia, Sagrada Familia, Parque Güell, Montjuic, Tibidabo, Barceloneta, Camp Nou!
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