As I sit here in the Alsur Cafe and begin to finally write on my experiences so far, I have to pause to get my thoughts clear on where to begin. Some facts I have learned while growing up is how many bad aspects of life humans dwell on or put more time into thinking about. So in my writing classes last year, I really understood that writing isn’t always positive as life isn’t always positive. There are ups and downs that happen. Many are just bumps in the road while others can be large road blocks. Most of my posts contain great adventures and places I have traveled to which all sound positive and fun. That usually is the reality. Now I am here – for the second time and trying to fulfill a dream started years ago – to live abroad. While I may not be going to school here, I need to make a choice as to how I shall remain in the Schengen Zone past 90 days. If I can’t get a job before then(Feb 2nd), I must leave for 90 days before returning. I have decided against living here illegally as the consequence can be a 1-5 year ban from me returning to the Zone. Not something I wish to risk.
My options are: get a job, open a business or marry someone from here. I have been applying online to many jobs ranging from some office tech jobs, tour companies and even asking some local Irish pubs. My biggest obstacle is the timing. This is the low season and there are many jobs for English only speakers during the high season, Mar-Oct. It is actually very easy for me to work here. I simply get an offer letter from a company and take it along with my passporte and living address to the local Policia station. They issue me an NIE number and I pay the 9.99 fee. This allows me to get a Social Security number and work. I currently have a Spanish phone number and bank account. Cellular plans are relatively cheap here as most use apps like Whatsapp to make all phone calls and send text messages. Mostly because you can call or message anybody that has the app for free no matter what country they live in – it uses your data plan so as long as you have enough GB’s, you are golden. I have the 2GB plan with 200min of talk for 15Eur/month. I have never gone over my data limit and I also use the web and maps app as well. Food and drinks are very inexpensive in Spain as well as the living space. There are many fruit and veggie places on every block and the average cost for say meat or chicken is also less than in the states. A can of beer at the store is around 0.46Eur/can( the lowest I have seen so far that isn’t crap beer). So a six pack is $3! A really nice flat here can run 700-1000Euro/month depending on how big you want your flat to be. For living in a city center with the allure of Barcelona, I consider this to be very inexpensive compared to a flat in say NYC or Miami Beach and much safer! You can seriously walk the streets at 4am and no one will bother you. Of course there is crime in every city but aside from the Nigerian pick pocketers(watch out for girls that act like hookers and try to touch your pockets) on Las Ramblas from 12am on, there really isn’t much crime here. I have never felt unsafe.
I have several new friends here that are expats and I have met a few Spaniards and Catalans. The expats seem to click together as they have more in common and all speak English. My experience from traveling Europe so far is that the northern countries – Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and Holland all speak English where as Spain, Italy and France do not have as many English speakers that are natives. The expats I know all have different stories and reasons for leaving home. We all share this bond. As I am here I tend to feel some guilt as I know family and friends back home think I “left them” or “ran away” from where I was at. I have read some articles from other expats that were a little sad but true. I is a little lonely when you move abroad – you don’t have any real past memories or stories to talk over with the people you meet. You have to start over making new memories and experiences. The people you know back home do not really understand why we have made the choice to leave and venture out with no promise or guarantee of success in a conventional job. For most of us this is a search for a further purpose or belonging to something more. We don’t just accept that just being alive is enough and finding happiness in the search is what fuels us. The more philosophical type or people with something to say are the usual expats that I have met. For me living in “paper towns” was empty. I have sold everything I own to make a life abroad. Is this scary? At times it can fill you with anxiety and confusion and other times you can feel so confident when you research and talk to other expats. I will learn Spanish starting next month. You can easily live here though without it. Most of the expats here that I have observed and know, seem to have many acquaintances as opposed to close friends. I attribute this to the number of years expats stay here and the amount of time they spend with someone. Usually you may only see a friend once every few weeks because most of the expats spread themselves very thin. This seems a little strange to me but also tells me they do not plan to stay very long. Similar to my time spent in Miami or Las Vegas. I knew I wouldn’t live there forever and for most people that may tell them to not get become very close to you. I have met some wonderful and interesting people while here!
Europe is an amazing place to live. So many place to visit so close by. Flights are cheap to other European countries and many international companies that you can work for. Honestly, who knows if I will remain here or work somewhere else in Europe. It will just depend on how long it takes me to decide on working for another company or become self employed. For now I would like to work for another company for a while and then become self employed. I have even thought of writing a book or freelance articles.
More pics of Barca –
For now I will explore my creative side more. I also have the opportunity to house sit in non-Schengen countries for 3 months to save money and then move back if need be. Life doesn’t always do what you desire and you always have to adapt to whatever comes your way. I welcome the challenge and will take any storm on that I need to. I am very thankful to have been born with this amazing hunger to learn more about the world and the people living in it. I always do find it a but funny that humans think they own this planet. Earth does not know currency or any bartering. Earth is Earth. Humans need to wake up and realize that unless we take care of this planet, we may not be here much longer. A great aspect of Barca is the recycling program. This really is an amazing city and people give a shit. 🙂 Happy times ahead.