Another New Start in Barcelona

So what’s going on in Catalonia? Well to begin, I had a month there where I wasn’t writing because I was going through some major transitions. Apart from my visa renewal being denied, I had to move out of my flat, five of my friends here had to leave Barcelona within a week of each other, and then I had to take on everything else in life: work, finding a new flat, massive amounts of graduate school work, and still being able to go out and see my friends (the ones that remain here that is).

I’ve now personally witnessed the affects of the Spanish economic depression one night a month ago when my roommates sat me down to tell me that we had to leave my flat. They all had to go back to Alicante because one had no job and hadn’t had one the entire time I’d been living in Barcelona, another got fired, and the third just wanted to go back home to his family and girl friend. We talked to the landlords and they said that I couldn’t stay because they were going to hire a company to fill the place and there was just no room for me. So that was it, I had to pack my bags and leave my base.

I know it’s just an apartment, but that place was more than that to me. I went to Barcelona in July of last year to find the perfect place. I spent several days scoping out the perfect flat, and I really found it. That place was terrific with three awesome Spanish guys. It’s terrace that overlooked one of Barcelona’s main streets, the 5-minute walk to the center, to school and to my internship, the bicing bike rental stations on three surrounding streets and its centricity for all my friends to come over. All gone.

My roommates were probably the best you could ask for. They were more mature than my roommates in Madrid and they wanted our place to always be tidy. I thought it was a bit annoying when they’d really get on me about the cleaning, but now that I’m in a new place with guys that are all a little younger than me, we can’t seem to keep anything clean. Anyway, I miss my Alicantino’s, but hopefully we’ll all see each other soon.

Also at the same time, we lost a member of my close group of friends here. Amy, who was interning with me at BarcelonaSAE had to head back to the States. I got to spend 3 months getting to know her and saw her everyday. She’s a wonderful person, a complete blast to hang out with, and through all the transitions I faced last month, she was a huge help, but after she left, not having her around really affected me.  It was also a real nice touch to have a girl around in the group so it’s not just Pat, Edward and I. I’ve now gotten used to not seeing her everday, but I wanted to give her a shout out for making three of the best months out here in Barcelona.

During one of her last weeks, Edward, Amy and I went to a place called Turó de la Rovira, or locally known as the bunkers, where you get a 360-degree view of the surrounding Barcelona area. The place was created during the Spanish Civil War for the rebels to defend against Fascist air attack. The way you get there is quite a journey: from metro, to these random sideways lifts, and then a thirty minute hike up the side of a mountain.  But the adventure makes the final destination that much better where you can see the sea, Montjuic, Sagrada Familia, and the surrounding countryside, all from one lookout spot.IMG_7557

As for my new flat, it’s also a rad little bungalow, it’s just a little bit far now and so my friends are less likely to come over. It takes me 15 minutes to class if I get a bike, but it appears that they are never available in my area.

But I don’t want to bore you with any more whining! Because these are all minimal issues! My new roommates are terrific; they’re young and energetic and we all get along really well. So far we’ve thrown two parties, one of which we set up a table with plastic cups and ping pong balls as we celebrated an unexpected American party. I think my roommates really got a kick out of the idea of living with an American (maybe that’s why whenever I walk in the front door they great me with, “’Sup, ‘sup” and then they’ll throw in a racial slur. SIDE NOTE: Thank you, Hollywood, many Spaniards now believe the N-word is an acceptable thing to say. This is not the first time I’ve heard it said here. My roommates now know not to say it).  When it came time to party, they went out and purchased a bunch of American flags and hung them all over the home much to my dismay and much to their entertainment. The party went incredibly well and beer pong was a great hit like it was the last time we tried it in Madrid. With the right group of Europeans, beer pong can really be a riot. So here’s to making new friends and a new chapter in my life in Catalonia.

Last week, la Diada de Sant Jordi (Saint George’s Day) was celebrated here in Catalonia, which is basically the Catalan version of Valentine’s Day. As an avid opponent of the Hallmark-card, capitalistic, corporate holiday in the United States, the Catalan version is probably my favorite of all the Spanish holidays, and we didn’t even get the day off! I’ll tell you why: the men give women roses, and the women give men BOOKS! BOOKS, PEOPLE! My favorite gifts are BOOKS and here, the women give us guys, BOOKS! I was given one book (maybe more next year? C’mon now, ladies!) from my coworkers about the history of the celebration in Catalan which was a really nice gesture.

The history basically tells of a small town where a dragon used to live. Every year he would require that one person from the town be sacrificed to the dragon. One year, the princess was chosen. The town was mortified and said it couldn’t be, but the princess, who was proud of her town, presented herself to the dragon. Right as she was going to be devoured, the dragon was slayed by a brave knight. A rose grew from the slain dragon’s blood (SIDE NOTE #2: this is starting to sound like a perfect metal song) and now they celebrate with roses and books (still not sure why it’s books, but BOOKS!)

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The girls from the internship with their roses

Barcelona was covered in flower stands and since it was my first (and may be my last) Sant Jordi, I got the three girls I work with a rose to participate in the fun.

In other good news, a new bar was just opened up that I have now been to almost everyday. It’s called NEVERMIND and in the back, they have an awesome bowl for skateboarders. The bar itself plays punk classics (I heard Goldfinger in there the other day taking me back to when I was 12-years old playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2) and is covered in graffiti and street art. The people there generally are my kind of folk: tattooed and pierced and lots of studded belts and skateboards. But I haven’t even gotten to the best part: Happy hour, which is practically all day long, offers beers for just 1-euro (and no tip!) and if you’re hungry, you can get a pretty rank burger and a beer for just 2.50 euro. When you’re a broke grad student, that’s a deal right there, even if the burger is sub-par.

The skate bowl inside the bar

The skate bowl inside the bar

Also, I’d like to take a moment to do some self-promotion: My buddy Edward and I decided to start writing songs and we made a sort of hip-hop band. Over Spring Break, Edward was writing a bunch of lyrics and so I just sat down at my computer and started messing around with Garageband. One week later, we had 5 songs written and we’re pretty stoked about them. Our buddy Pat was out of town for this and when he got back, he found us with not just one, but a whole EP. Check us out here if you’re interested, and please, take it with a grain of salt, it’s not that serious.

We’ve just experienced a few miserable days of cold and rain, right when it was starting to really get nice out here. What’s the point of living in Barcelona if it’s going to be cold and rainy all the time? At least this morning, we finally got to see blue skies again. Hopefully summer is finally on its way and I’ll be swimming in the Mediterranean very soon.

Write more soon,

Graham

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10 thoughts on “Another New Start in Barcelona

  1. Sorry to hear about all the complications, I can imagine that’s frustrating :( So does this mean you’re heading to PR next?! jeje

    I wish we celebrated Sant Jordi (and that I was a guy so people would give me books too haha), let’s bring it to the States to replace V-day!

    Y aunque no me creas, yo era una super fanatica de THPS and skating stuff when I was younger por mi hermano.. I even went to several X-Games when they were in Philly a few times :P gotta love the soundtrack, I have my N64 here in PR and still play it haha

    ánimo y éxito con el resto de tu semestre!

  2. Ah, yes, the crap parts of expat life. After six years in Seville, my friend group has FINALLY stabilized, but I know how tough those goodbyes are!

    And for real, San Jordi is the coolest holiday ever! Did you catch my post about my favorite books about Spain? Por cierto, is your master’s just one year? I have my defense at the UAB on July 16th…can’t wait to be done!

    • Yeah, it’s definitely the “crap part.” I guess when I lived in Madrid I still lost friends frequently but my closest friends were the ones that stayed. Yes, Sant Jordi was really great. I don’t think I saw that one, but I’ll definitely check it out! Yeah my Master’s is just one year. Is yours too??

  3. Hey Graham! I was finally able to sit down and read some of your blog, and am now ten times more excited to visit Barcelona :) I’m writing down some of the places you’ve mentioned so I can feel less like a clueless tourist while I’m there. If you have any other suggestions, I’d love it if you could shoot me a message on facebook!!

    • Hey Megan! thanks for reading. I’ll send you some stuff shortly via FB, or we could meet up when you get out here and I’ll show you around. Or both ha Thanks again for reading.

  4. It’s hard when you have to go through moves and saying good-bye to friends, but it’s so great that you were able to find another nice place with some other awesome roommates too. It’s SO hard to live with people, so congrats on that. Thanks for the great post! I’ll be sure to check out your songs too.

  5. Graham, thank you for the update! I’m glad you have taken the unexpected challenges you experienced in stride and have continued to move forward. I should be finding out my teaching placement sometime in the next week or so, and I know that when I’m in Spain I’ll have many challenges. I’m looking forward to overcoming them and becoming a better person because of them.

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