I am a Norwegian Señorita who has moved to Spain in search of the good life and to escape some Norwegian winter. I come from a small town in Norway, but have lived all over the country, always looking for that perfect place where I felt like home. When I ran out of interesting places in Norway I thought I’d look further, and I decided on trying Spain.
When and how did you decide to move to Barcelona? Is it complicated to settle down there?
I have always had itchy feet, and Spain has always sounded so tempting to me, mainly because of the weather. I mean, I am from Norway. We have long, horribly cold and dark winters… The thought of just escaping one of them has always been very, but very enticing! So, I finally took the leap and just decided to do it. First I went to Málaga, on the south coast of Spain, and after a month of intensive Spanish studies there, I moved on to Barcelona. Although I loved Málaga too, Barcelona feels more like “my city”.
When it comes to settling down, I think the biggest challenge in Barcelona is the language. The region, Catalunya, is bilingual and Catalan, the second language might be a problem. They are very proud about it, preferring to use it always, even though they all speak Spanish too. I hear it can be complicated to get a job without it, and at the universities, Catalan is the official first language.
On the other hand, Barcelona is such an international city and it’s a big city that has everything. As long as you want something strong enough, I believe you can make it! Have an open mind and believe it will work out fine, and it just might!
Have you ever lived abroad before? How many countries have you visited?
Yes, I have lived in England too. I really love England, and I enjoyed my time there. I lived in Brighton on the south coast, and although it didn’t turn out to be a place I stayed on I keep coming back to visit. There’s just something special about that city.
How many countries have I visited? Hmm. I had to have a look at the map and count and I came to 19. I love travelling, and although I love seeing new places I tend to fall in love easily and want to come back to places I have already visited.
What do you like the most about Spain/Barcelona?
There are so many things I don’t even know where to start! I love the weather, obviously. It was also one of the main reasons for moving here. I love how life is more out and about, more social. I love how beautiful it is. Every time I am walking around in Barcelona I get amazed, there is so much beauty in this city! Plazas, parks, narrow streets, amazing architecture. I like how people are more laid-back, and how in Barcelona you can be yourself 110% without anyone even looking at you twice. Salsa-dancing is one of my passions, and I love how Barcelona is said to be the salsa capital of Europe, the salsa-scene is fantastic!
How is/was the cultural shock? What are the main differences with Norway, your home country?
I would say one of the things that made an impression in the beginning was how people don’t really have the need for a personal space (like we do up North)! First time meeting people and they are all over you hugging you and kissing your cheeks, while in Norway we wait until we know someone (quite well) before we do that…
Another one is meal-times, especially dinner. Here it’s normal to have dinner at 22:00 or even later. Back in Norway we have dinner around 17:00 haha! Having a big meal this late is just something I am not sure I can get used to, I prefer going to sleep on a lighter stomach.
There are many small things that are different, but I have an open mind and instead of judging and criticizing I try to always just observe and see how things are done here in comparison to back in Norway.
Do you miss anything from your homeland?
Of course I miss family and friends. I love my new life here, but sometimes I wish I could have all these lovely people from back home here too.
And I miss Norwegian chocolate! I am a chocoholic and they just don’t know how to make chocolate here (sorry, Spain!). I also miss drinking cold, fresh, clean water from the tap instead of big plastic tanks from the supermarket. There are a few food items but I guess it’s just normal. Brown cheese for example: about the most Norwegian thing that exist.
Actually when I think about it, apart from people and food-stuff there’s not really anything I miss. I think life in Spain is pretty fabulous!
Any 'memories of an expat' you would like to share with us? Your best souvenir? Or maybe your worst experience?
My experience here in Spain has been so filled with impressions and great memories that I wouldn’t know which one to pick. To learn a new language. To get to know people from all over the world, and to learn ways of living so different from what I have grown up with has been such a great eye opener and enriching experience. To see so many historic sites and learn about the rich history of this country, local customs and traditions. To have the Mediterranean Sea at a walking distance from my home and getting used to another way of living. The reward of making your way in another country, and in another language is truly gratifying! I am so humble and grateful for all of it.
Spain is one of the European countries which suffered the most of the crisis: do you feel it in your day-to-day life?
I must say I don’t. I hear about the crisis all the time, every day, from people, newspapers or news on TV. But I don’t really have personal experience. I came here to learn the language and I haven’t entered the job-market yet. But I hear it’s quite complicated to get a job and that salaries keep going down, mostly because of the desperation. There will always be someone ready to accept less money for a position so they push the salaries further and further down. Which again makes less movement of money, and I think that’s a very vicious circle. Right now, there’s more than 20% unemployment in general, and 40% for people from 20-40 years. That is bad!
Where will you celebrate the end of year festivities? Will it be Norwegian or Spanish style? Any local tradition you would like to share with us?
I am going back to Norway for Christmas, but I’m headed back to Spain for New Year. I am so lucky to have been invited to spend the last days of the year at the beaches of Las Palmas (Gran Canaria) with someone from there!
The Spanish have a tradition for New Year’s eve at midnight, that I think sounds nice. For each chime of the clock at midnight they eat one grape, thus 12 grapes, which in turn will bring 12 months of good luck.
They don’t really celebrate 24th/25th December the way we do in Norway, as they do presents at the “Three King’s Day” on the 6th January.
When did you start your blog? For what reasons?
I started writing the blog about one month before my move. I thought it would be fun to write about and share the things that I’d encounter on my way to creating a new life in Spain. About the places I visit, about the cultural differences, funny facts and also travel tips. In the long-run it’s also a nice sort of diary of my move to Spain. I enjoy reading other blogs, and I love writing so I thought I’d give it a try myself.
Did you make new friends with your blog?
I have! And that is something I didn’t expect at all, it wasn’t even on my mind when I started, but it has made the experience so much nicer. To connect with people I would never have known if not truly means a lot to me!
Why did you register on
expat.com and what do you think of the website?
I heard about the website just after arriving Spain and thought it sounded like a brilliant place to meet people in Barcelona, to hear about what’s going on, to read tips from other fellow expats. I think the concept of the page is genius and I wish I’d known about this site (or anything like it) when I lived in England.
Which advice would you give to the other Expat blog members who would like to settle in Barcelona?
Have an open mind, and go for it! Barcelona is a fantastic city that has all one could want. It’s also very international (not like Málaga which was more Spanish) and you can meet people, and get around fine even with only speaking English. It’s important to learn Spanish obviously but it’s nice to able to manage also until your Spanish is good enough.