Hasta la vista, España, adéu Catalunya
All things, good or bad, must come to the end. And so is my Spanish and Catalan adventure. There have been a bit more than two years since I first arrived here, without knowing more Spanish words than Arnold’s famous quote and some similar expressions. Yet, when I drew the line and made the balance of these two years, I found myself wanting. Let’s have a look at what I gained and what I failed to achieve in these two years.
On the pro side I must start with the fact that in terms of professional avancement I moved further and faster than ever before (and I need to thank my Emagister work buddies for that). I found out how it is to be away from all that is known and familiar to you. I got myself to a serviceable level of Spanish (and knowing another language is always a good thing in my book). My wife and I found a pair of great friends here (coincidence or not, both Romanians too). I got to know in what environment I don’t like working in (my first job here) and how you can integrate into a great team in just a couple of weeks (tip of hat to Emagister, again). I got to know the inside of a different culture, even if I did not integrate into it. I found out that there is a lot of common vocabulary between Catalan and Romanian and that I need to make my brain stop translating everything through English first.
On the con side, the most difficult thing to adapt to was local cuisine and food. I am picky about the fish I eat. Same about seafood. Add my terrible talent of biting hard on any foreign object in the food (bone splinters, sand, shell pieces) and you’ll understand why I never touched a paella here after my first try. I get sick only by smelling goat cheese and they use it a lot here. The times we went out for tapas (local finger food) can be counted on one hand. Yet we’ve been many more times to Asian all-you-can-eat buffets.
And last, but not least (it can even climb to the first place) is the economic factor. My wife couldn’t find a job in all this time (and not for lack of trying), so it all fell down on my shoulders. And at the end of each month we were (more or less) breaking even. Yet any unexpected event (and there have been enough of those too) threw us more out of balance. When we add the failing economy, the massive unemployment and the cost reductions everyone is applying, it gets clear that we need to look for greener pastures.
An English speaking country is practically the only way we can try and make it work. As UK maintains the work restrictions for Romanians and Bulgarians, the only valid alternative is Ireland. So here we are, preparing to close all loose ties that remain here and getting ready for relocation. There are so many things to do, so many bureaucratic loops to jump through and so little time to do it. Yet we still look forward to the new opportunities, to the change in scenery and to a new chance to get things done the right way.
Hasta la vista, España, adéu Catalunya! We promise to return to visit some day.