Search in Google for any pictures of Barcelona, and the collage of sunshine, beach, and gloriously funky architecture by Gaudí shouldn’t take more than a few seconds to convince you of Barcelona’s wonderfulness. However, beyond the usual tourist spots that still manage to enchant many people, Barcelona consists of many unseen aspects that trap one not just into buying a selfie stick in Las Ramblas but into staying here permanently. Here are some of the reasons why I choose to call Barcelona home:
1. International Vibe
This was actually something that really bothered me at first but have since grown to love. On my first day in Barcelona, a Catalan guy told me that if I wanted a real “Spanish” experience, I’d be better off going somewhere else in Spain besides Barcelona, given its huge population of foreigners. It was quite discouraging, since I hadn’t realized before coming to Spain that this was the case. In the next few months I resented all of the times in which I met a new person and found out they were from anywhere but Spain. My crazy-original idea to move to Barcelona from my home country was turning out to be nothing more than a cliché.
However, I now see as a blessing the fact that I can call people from Perú, Ireland, Italy, Ecuador, Spain, France, and beyond my friends. By living in Barcelona, I am able to learn not just about Spanish and Catalan culture but cultures from around the world. Furthermore, this group of friends doesn’t act as a hindrance to practicing Spanish, as I am able to speak in Spanish with my South American friends (and learn their slang!) and even speak in Spanish with my Italian friend. It’s also invaluable to have fellow foreign friends who understand what it feels like to be living abroad and with whom you can bitch about Spain’s bureaucracy.
While I originally found myself judging other foreigners and not wanting to be friends with them in the name of having a more “authentic” experience, embracing Barcelona’s internationalism has allowed me learn about other cultures, make friends with people who are like family to me, and rid me of this weird xenophobia I was having. We shouldn’t prevent ourselves from being friends with people based on their country of origin, and besides, with people like my Ecuadorian friend who’s been living in Barcelona for 14 years and has a Spanish passport, who are we to really say who is a local or not?
2. Artsy Vibe
There is an event in Barcelona called “Jam de Escritura” in which a keyboard is passed around a room, people write whatever they please, and it is subsequently projected onto a giant screen for all to see. It sometimes follows a theme or story, more often than not goes off on a wild tangent, and is frequently accompanied by live music and even dancers. Whether you think this is really weird or an amazing idea, this avant-garde activity that attracts huge crowds could only happen in a place like Barcelona. There are cultural centers here in Barcelona that are solely dedicated to open mic nights, poetry “jams,” literary discussions, film projections, small concerts from local musicians, and more. There are tons of museums, art centers, and galleries here, not to mention art that one can find on street walls and in graffitti. Barcelona is a bohemian’s paradise.
3. Fun, Fun, Fun
If you like to party or even just to have fun, Barcelona is the place for you. There are tons of clubs that attract world-renowned DJs and bands and stay open until the wee hours of the morning. Bars stay open late, too, and don’t ask for your ID every time you step a toe in the door. Particularly during the summer, Barcelona hosts festivals large and small, from the giants like Primavera Sound for indie music and Sonar for electronic music to the free festivals individual neighborhoods host in the streets. Additionally, every night of the week, you can find an artsy event to attend, such as an open mic night, poetry recital, or small concert. It is not possible to get bored here.
In the comments below, let us know where you live and what you like about it!