„La vida loca“ – or just a cliché?
by Pia Walter, Applications Engineer
1st of April 2017 says my calendar, which means that I have already spent six months in Barcelona. Time flies, half of the time of my expatriation year has already passed, and this is no April fool.
I always had the intention to spend some time abroad. During my studies I fortunately already had the chance to spend semesters abroad, one in Almeria, Spain and another one in Montevideo, Uruguay. After this experience it was quite an easy decision for me to take, when I had the chance to work as an Applications Engineer at another unit of the TGW Group. I was really happy to hear that I can support the Spanish team for one year, especially because I already knew some people there and my command of Spanish was also already at a basic level. So, ordering some “tapas y copas” was not a problem for me.
During the first couple of weeks I was quite busy with organising my life in Barcelona. Looking for a flat without being at this place and without having a local phone number turned out to be really tricky, which actually was the reason why I finally found my flat when I was already here. I am really happy with this one, especially because it is located in the city centre of Barcelona and it was newly renovated last year.
However, living in the city centre also means that you have to sacrifice quite a lot of time for public transport on your way to the office. Almost one hour for one direction - actually too much time for me, which was the reason I bought a scooter. The best decision I actually could have made because since then I have been cruising through Barcelona, exploring all the beautiful details of the city always with a smile on my face. Even though I have to say that people drive like crazy (“la gente está muy loca”), I easily adapted my style of driving to their habits and since then I have been feeling more confident. Additionally, I save one and a half hours per day, some valuable time I can use for better things. For example for having some tapas with some colleagues and friends after work.
Working in another country was actually a new experience for me. From my point of view you cannot compare it to a semester abroad during your studies. Now everything is more serious, you have a structured daily routine, a job where you can challenge yourself and you have much more money for travelling. I really have to say that I enjoy it a lot, first because I am working on a big new project for one of our key customers and second probably also because my colleagues are really friendly and they let me be part of their team from the first day on.
However, the style of working is different. After some time here you will no longer be surprised, if some people arrive 5-15minutes late to a meeting. Nor will you be astonished if a meeting that was originally scheduled for 1 hour, actually takes 2 hours. You want to know why? It’s because the people love to discuss. If there existed national sports of discussing, I bet that the Spanish would be excellent in it. As most of the time there are always two sides of a coin. On the one hand you sometimes end up having better solutions because with the willingness to discuss you challenge your surrounding every day. Being able to answer the question, “Why do you do what you do?”, is part of your daily business here. However, on the other hand discussing also means time. Sometimes meetings become quite inefficient because we lose ourselves in some details, discussing what may not be necessary.
Apart from work (which I do really like a lot), I have a lot of visits from friends and family from home, which I am enjoying a lot. However, Barcelona has so much to offer, that even when you spend some time alone, you will never get bored because there is always something new to explore. During the weekends I also use to travel, not only to discover Spain but also other countries because the connections from Barcelona are really good and sometimes cheap. So, I think you already see that I am having a good time here.
Summing it all up, I just can recommend everybody to spend some time abroad. It will not only open your mind, you will also get to know other cultures and new people. It forms your personality and will for sure be a great experience! Be part of it.
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