Photo: alexandraseux

17 Things That Happen When You Move to Barcelona

Student Work
by Dayana Aleksandrova Jan 3, 2016

1. You will be a part of a human pyramid on 9/11 and think about this day in a whole new way.

P r e p a r a t s i amunt! 🙌🏻 @collavella

A photo posted by • M í r i a m • (@miiriiam90) on

Many associate 9/11 with the 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, but Barcelona has its own significance behind that date. Every year, September 11th celebrates la Diada, Catalonia’s national day, when people wear traditional outfits, host big concerts at Arc de Triomf and compose castellers — tall human pyramids, originating from a traditional dance symbolizing solidarity.

2. You will have to pick sides between Catalonia and the rest of Spain.

Tram 9 Via lliure a la democràcia… #vialliure11s #ladiada Ho hem tornat a fer: som un poble unit, alegre i combatiu

A photo posted by Jesús Aguilera Quesada (@jaguileraq) on

Being the most economically-prosperous region, as well as Spain’s tourist hub, Catalonia, or Catalunya, has pushed for independence for a long time, ubiquitously decorating balconies at Barri Gòtic with the red, yellow and blue opposition flag. Holding numerous referendums, the latest being in November of 2015, the Catalan voice has been heard, and it screams succession. Don’t expect to live in Barcelona without having a solid opinion on the “us VS them” matter and plentiful evidence to support it.

3. You will choose Saturday’s at Opium over sleep.

Or Nasty Monday’s at Apollo, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang at Shoko, Erasmus Party at Razzmatazz, Hot Dog at Otto Zutz and a ton of other parties, where you’ll be decked out in your flashiest club wear (no ponytails or sneakers, reads the fine print under “club dress code”) and dance the entire night away, until 5am, most likely waking up on the freshly-cleaned Barceloneta.

4. You will become obsessed with the mix of Gaudí, Miró and Moorish architecture spread across the entire city.

This absolutely had to make its way to my instagram sooner or later 🇪🇸 #barcelona #wanderlust La Sagrada Familia #bbg

A photo posted by Dayana Aleksandrova 🇺🇸🇪🇸🇧🇬 (@deeaxthesea) on

One of the reasons why Barcelona is such an enchanting city is the incredibly-well preserved old architecture, namely the castle of Montjuïc and the remains of Moorish walls on the way to Sants Station, combined with the modernista architecture of Antoni Gaudí’s Park Güell and la Pedrera, as well as Juan Miró’s funky, contemporary art sculptures up in his museum, above Plaça d’Espanya. Whether you’re a lover of history, a Picasso fan or simply someone who likes seeing pretty patterns and quirky forms — Barcelona will have you falling in love from day 1.

5. You will realize it’s totally possible to wake up at Nova Icària to a bronzed god softly playing guitar next to you.

Because wonderful and whimsical things happen under the hot Mediterranean sun. One day, dozed off in a sweet siesta after the end of my 8-hour hotel concierge shift, I was woken up by the notes of a string guitar by my side. Rubbing my sleepy eyes I realized I wasn’t alone, and in fact, a gorgeous Spaniard (thick black hair, bronzed skin, picture Enrique Iglesias but damn it he’s from Madrid!) had sat next to me and was playing to the accord of the setting sun.

6. You will start saying bon dia.

Being a foreigner in Barcelona, nobody expects you to know Catalan, but being able to speak a few words of it boosts your value tremendously Repeat after me: bon dia! Adeu!

7. You will get a ridiculous tan.

Awesome quiet beaches = the perks of befriending the locals #spain 🌞

A photo posted by Dayana Aleksandrova 🇺🇸🇪🇸🇧🇬 (@deeaxthesea) on

Ah, the sweet Mediterranean climate! No matter whether you’re hiking the mountains of Montserrat, biking in Sarrià or shopping at Passeig de Gràcia, you’ll get an effortless, sun-kissed tan. If you really want to go for it, settle in at the beach of Gavà, a 30-minute train ride outside the city, for a weekend, with a 6 pack of Damm limón and a bottle of 15 SPF cream.

8. You will feel like a rock star jogging along the Passeig Marítim.

#beach strollin’ is my favorite…how I miss this city! #summer #barcelona #spain #travel #run 🌞 #wanderlust #bbg

A photo posted by Dayana Aleksandrova 🇺🇸🇪🇸🇧🇬 (@deeaxthesea) on

Barcelona is a very athletic city because, spoiler alert: we like to look good. Go out to the beach strip and you’ll see un monton of people jogging, biking, roller skating or strolling in tiny shorts and bathing suits.

9. Pa amb tomàquet will = life

How in the world do they take something as simple as leftover toasted bread and tomato and create the miracle that is Pa amb tomàquet? Rub a little olive oil on and use this bad boy as an appetizer to your fried bacalao, a snack to munch on, or a beer buddy.

10. You will pet a dozen cats in the back yard of Universidad de Barcelona.

#jardiferransoldevila #universidaddebarcelona #UB #jardines #Barcelona #gato #cat #garden

A photo posted by @dinatian_ranger on

This is one of those things you don’t question, but just go with. I have to admit, I never went to class at uni, but I did sneak into the backyard of UB to pet those fuzzy black cats that hang around looking for new friends.

11. Your self-esteem will get a huge boost

By @wilechild – #tbt @cdlcbarcelona #Regrann

A photo posted by CDLC (@cdlcbarcelona) on

Every time you sport a smile or a nice outfit, people will let you know that you look great and that the effort was worth it. Stroll down by the beach clubs in heels and I guarantee that you’ll get at least 3 fliers inviting you to the opening of a new club (welcome to Barcelona, Pacha!), a party at CDLC or a VIP show at the W.

12. You will munch on exotic fruit and pescado at la Boqueria and Santa Caterina…

…and never want to set foot in a regular supermercado again. From fresh coconut smoothies, to orange juice, chocolate olive oil, warm espinacopitas, Mediterranean cod and dragon fruit – these markets are foodie paradise. Tip: go as early as possible to get the good stuff and avoid the swarm of tourists.

13. You will visit a museum dedicated to sex

#barcelona #museudeerotica #spain #erotica

A photo posted by @len9rka on

You know how some cultures are a little uneasy about sex? Not here. Stroll down la rambla and look to your left. You’ll see the Museu deL’Erotica and I dare you to not go in. You’ll see everything you expected and more — inflatable dolls, human and animal threesome sculptures, a whole lot of butts in different shapes and forms, and some artful penis installations.

14. You will understand how fiercely independent Catalans are.

Insubmissió is the motive resonating in the Catalan air. Barcelona natives know their worth and are very vocal about their discontent with the “lazy” Madrid government. Demanding independence for years, sacrificing lives in the era of the Franco regime, politics are not a small deal here. Catalans are very regionally patriotic and you’ll definitely learn a thing or two from them when it comes to standing up for one’s beliefs.

15. You will get tons of love from locals.

Barcelona’s culture is very inviting, as long as you wish to immerse yourself. Nights out with the coworkers, adventures to Figueres with the Erasmus kids you met at Razzmatazz, moonlight picnics with the cute Italian guy you’re taking around town, pretending to be a city expert…our culture is very much fun-oriented and you’ll be offered full access to it.

16. You will eat an ungodly amount of jamón ibérico.

That’s what I’m about 🐙 #jamón #españa

A photo posted by Dayana Aleksandrova 🇺🇸🇪🇸🇧🇬 (@deeaxthesea) on

Let’s be real – half the reason why you came out here is for the food (especially this local delicacy). Breakfast — jamón! Lunch — jamón! Dinner — jamón! At the club — jamón!

17. You will feel like a child again at PortAventura and Tibidabo

Muchísimas gracias a mi amiga Silvia para esta foto linda! #barcelona #tibidabo #wanderlust #bbg

A photo posted by Dayana Aleksandrova 🇺🇸🇪🇸🇧🇬 (@deeaxthesea) on

There is no age limit on amusement parks, and since some, like Tibidabo, have been deemed top 10 on the must visit list, you have all the justification to spend the day hanging around in a Ferris wheel or sliding on the kiddy slide. Take a trip to PortAventura in Salou and hop on Shambhala, the biggest roller coaster in Europe at 76 meters high, followed by a full water immersion at Polynesia’s Tutuki Splash, ending at Hurakan Condor which will make your eyeballs rotate all the way back in your skull…but in a good way.

Discover Matador