So, you’ve sweated your way to ShBarcelona dragging your life in a 22 kg case behind you, picked up your keys and arrived at your new apartment. The first week of your fresh life in Barcelona will likely feel like a holiday, but soon the novelty may wear off and you may find yourself struggling to settle into this new city. It can be daunting moving anywhere new if you have no social connections and if you don’t yet have a job in place or your language skills aren’t quite up to scratch it can be easy to end up feeling lonely and not at all at home. Here are some tips on how to settle into life in Barcelona and make yourself feel at home.
Make time for home comfort
The westernised English-speaking countries of the world seem to have a much wider variety of food products in their gigantic supermarkets than Barcelona, and losing out on some of your favourite home comfort foods can make you feel that you are away from home. The key here is to broaden your usual go-to meals and start cooking more from scratch. Expanding your weekly routine menu will help you forget about the things you are missing and get into new, more exciting dishes.
As well as shopping for new meal ideas, make sure you put just a little money aside to make your apartment your own. Adding some artwork to your bedroom wall or a throw to your sofa are inexpensive supplements that can really make a big difference in making your apartment feel like home. The best place to do this on a budget would be to take a short trip to IKEA by bus – they will have everything you need and more, including the Swedish meatballs you’ve probably enjoyed at home for a little taste of familiarly.
Walk the streets
Having an idea of what’s where, how to get there and where to go to find the things you are interested in is a great way to start settling in. Exploring your neighbourhood by foot will help you stumble across the best supermarkets, the quaintest bars and restaurants and the nicest places just to sit and read a book. Becoming very knowledgeable of your surroundings will help with feeling more comfortable and familiar in your area, in turn making it feel more like home.
Once you know the ins and outs of your neighbourhood, expand your exploration to areas of the city you may not have reason to visit. For example, a couple of month’s into living in Barcelona you are likely to know exactly how to get to a few of the tourist hotspots, but have you walked through the artistic streets of Gràcia, or walked along the beach in Sant Martí? Finding your way back to your apartment or to familiar destinations from unknown areas will allow you to see other communities and acquire a sense of city knowledge that should make you feel a little less like a tourist.
Build a social network
A lack of friends can prevent you from getting out and enjoying the things you love, as well as causing feelings of loneliness that can make you feel you are not truly at home in Barcelona, despite living here. An excellent way to start in tackling this problem would be to take a Spanish lesson. Not only will you get a chance to perfect your Spanish and improve your general ability to communicate in Barcelona, you are likely to meet people in the same boat on a regular basis and begin forming relationships with ease. Another great option is to check out adverts on loquo.com – you will find many Spanish speakers looking for an English speaking buddy in order to swap lessons for free on a casual, chatty basis – perfect for making a new friend.
Attend some of Barcelona’s many food or vintage clothes markets and find a surprisingly social environment with live music and tables to sit, drink beer and chat. These markets are a great opportunity to speak to strangers and surround yourself with like-minded people interested in fashion, gastronomy, or other market fare, giving you an easy way to meet new people and integrate with the community.
Finally, some simple things that you might overlook in terms of settling in – make sure you fully unpack your case, check if any of your friends from your past home have random connections in Barcelona who you could meet up with, don’t lock yourself alone in your apartment, and say yes to everything!
What’s helped you settle in?