With all the technology available these days, you can do so much research about what it is like to live in a new country. That is what I did before I got to Barcelona. I joined Facebook groups and watched Youtube videos, and for the most part, I can say I was pretty prepared when I got here. However, there are some things that people just don’t talk about. Have no fear, I am going to tell you 5 things I learnt about Barcelona after moving here.
1. What floor do you live on?
I was able to secure my apartment before actually arriving in Barcelona. This meant that everything I knew about my new home was via videos and whatever my relocation specialist told me. I was told that the building did not have a lift (elevator) but not to worry, the apartment was on the first floor. No problem right? Well not really. Let me explain. I knew that most buildings started at floor 0 (ground level) and that most apartments started on the second level (first floor). However, what I did not know was that some buildings actually have either one or two levels of apartments above the ground floor AND THEN comes the “first floor.” In my case, I have two floors of apartments (E – Entresuelo and P-Principal) before my “first floor” apartment. So technically…. I am on the 4th floor. To get to my “first floor” apartment, I have five flights of stairs to walk up! Not much of a big deal until it’s time to carry six suitcases when you first move in, or two weeks worth of groceries when a world pandemic hits for the first time!
2. New sheets please
Buying sheets for my bed has never been something I have given a second thought about. I had a queen size bed when I was living in the U.S. When I went to buy sheets I bought queen size sheets. Simple right? Not so much here in Spain. When I first moved into my flat I saw that I had a ‘queen size’ bed. I went to Ikea to get all the things I needed for my new home (no such thing as a Walmart or Target round these parts). When I got to the bedding section, to my surprise there was absolutely nothing that said king, queen or single. Instead there were all these signs with measurements. Ok, I thought well… I can just tell the sales associate, it’s for a queen size bed and they will tell me the measurements…they already live here, they should know. Um no! When I asked the sales associate, the reply was “ok, well what size queen?” WHAT??? Apparently there are different size queens! I had to go back home and measure my bed and then go back to Ikea.. what a mission!
Most apartments here in Barcelona will come with a washing machine. Finding an apartment with both a washing machine and dryer is either rare or in the pricier places. If you have always been in the habit of doing laundry quickly by just throwing it in the dryer after washing… you can now forget that idea. We hang our clothes out to dry on a line here. The clothes line is usually outside one of your windows or right off your balcony. In the winter time, clothes can take a good two days to dry due to the cold. But in the summer months it’s so hot, the sun dries almost as fast as the dryer. Don’t plan on wearing those pants the same day you washed them in winter.
4. Let’s order pizza
I’m not sure if this is normal in other countries, but I am used to ordering pizza that comes sliced and ready to eat! No prep work necessary. On my first night in Barcelona, I stayed in a hotel. It was really late and I was tired from traveling, so we ordered pizza. Pizza – easy, didn’t really need to worry about plates or utensils. When the pizza came…different story. It was a whole pizza! No triangle slices to easily eat. Being in a hotel room with no knife, we just had to tear it into pieces to eat it. I thought, ok …maybe it was just the place I ordered it from. Well, I have ordered delivery pizza since, and every time it comes unsliced! However, when I go to restaurants, they serve it sliced. I just don’t get it, but now I own a pizza slicer.
5. Do you have Whatsapp?
Living in America while still having quite a bit of friends and family in Jamaica, I have had Whatsapp for some time now. I had never thought of it as being a necessity, but rather just a convenient free way to communicate long distance. Arriving in Barcelona has changed that idea. They use Whatsapp for EVERYTHING here! I have sent my resume/CV via Whatsapp, spoken to restaurants or other establishments via Whatsapp, communicated with service people via Whatsapp. It is probably the most used communication app here.
Do you live in a foreign country? What strange or unfamiliar things have surprised you about where you live?
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10 comments / Add your comment below
Sharing your new experiences is informative & so interesting. It sure will help US residences adapt to living abroad.
Thank you Maxine!!
I love how living in other places opens our eyes to different ways of doing things. I would never have thought a “first floor” would be anything other than a first floor.
We dry our clothes out on a line in summer only here in northern Canada, as the -30C weather would make some interesting ice clothes sculptures.
You are so right Donna!!
Very Informative article. Thanks for sharing.
Great post! I came to discover that Whatsapp is common everywhere other than the US haha. I was surprise that no one uses it when I came to the states.
Thank you Shany!
Love this! I’ve come across a few of these things when I moved to England from the Caribbean, nice to hear someone mentioning them!
Yes Stephanie! Coming from jamaica … hanging the clothes on the line was normal but hanging them in freezing cold weather was another story lol!