And all of a sudden you are there. Sitting on an airplane, going away from all familiar aspects of your life. Leaving family, leaving friends, leaving even your own bed. Your own bed. You sigh and look out the window while your thoughts go to the home you love, the best friend that is no longer going to be around the corner, to your favourite place where you used to take a walk when you needed some peace of mind. But all of a sudden your thoughts come back to now and your face turns in a huge smile when you think of all that is in front of you. Of all possibilities, all adventures, all the new experiences you are about to have. You are on your way.
Maybe this wasn’t really how you felt sitting on that plane, maybe you didn’t even come here on a plane. But either way, I think most of us relate more or less to the feeling of detaching from all that is known to us and the excitement of where we are going. We are expats. We have that in common, and those of you that read this and are not, still move in an environment filled of them, of us. I apologise beforehand. I can understand it must be tiresome sharing your city with all the corners of the world at times. Even I admit that I miss hanging out with more people who grew up on these lands, who have seen them change with the same rapidity as they themselves did. Sometimes even I get annoyed when I find myself surrounded by English-speaking people, even if I am one of them. Therefore, thank you for sharing this fantastic city with us, and even if you do not relate, maybe this can give insight in our world, or at least from my perspective, because of course all our stories differ, and this is mine.
I came here six weeks ago, so I am really a newbie.
When I came, I was mostly filled with excitement over this new chapter in this new city that I fell in love with during a couple of vacations spent here, and now I came to live. For me, it was the first time in my life that I moved from the city I grew up in, which is Gothenburg in Sweden. I was used to travelling, experiencing different cultures, but I had never lived my everyday life outside of Sweden, barely outside of Gothenburg. So, I have only been six weeks in, and as you understand my expat experience has just started, and spite of all amazing moments experienced so far, I still feel the best is yet to come.
I have just scraped the corner of this diverse city. And so far that is actually what I have thought the most about. The diversity. Because that is what really lives in this city. It breathes in every corner, is felt in every movement, pounds in every rhythm. During one day you meet at least a dozen different nationalities, you meet so many ways of thinking, ways of feeling, ways of viewing the world. You can no longer expect things to work as they once used to or as you expect them to be. You start from zero. Build yourself up again, in every way, and in this multinational city, I think we never stop doing just that. People come and go, you change apartment every other month, get a new colleague from that country you always wanted to visit, or make a new friend in the club you hadn’t been to before. Things change at such a rapid pace that the way of following is just about being open, open to the differences, open to the changes, to your neighbor’s reaction that you just don’t understand, to the impolite way someone just answered the phone, or overall how the things that to you seem so strange, are perfectly normal to others. Because all people you meet come with a baggage that is different from yours. And the same way that you did, or at some point will do, they too have left something, come in search of something, and continuously change the things they carry on their back.
So far my accommodation here has been fairly easygoing since I am flat sharing with Swedish people. But even so, we are all from different parts of our loved country. We have different views of what it is to be typically Swedish. I then continue to a workplace where my colleagues are from seven different nationalities where the way of communicating, reacting and doing things differentiates at times. And then I, as well as you, continue meeting people from all corners in the daily life outside school, work or home, changing from one world to another.
A dear friend of mine who grew up here said a wonderful thing: “The amazing thing about living in Barcelona is that you don’t need to travel the world. The world comes to you”. Dear ones, let us all be an example of the openness in a time when so many close their doors. Let us continue to show the world that it is wonderful to share, to grow, to learn. Just by living our daily life.