After 28 hours of travel on three separate planes, I arrived at Lisbon airport at 2pm on Christmas Eve, 2018. I did not have a SIM card at this stage so couldn’t get an UBER. So I jumped in a taxi and he completely ripped me off! 28 Euro for the trip to the city when it should have been about 12 Euro. But I didn’t know this until later.
Lisbon was great. For two weeks I followed the same routine: wake up, eat, walk around Lisbon for 6 hours, come home, eat, sleep. I must have walked about 12kms per day up and down hills. It was just what I needed after 2 years of hard work.
I went everywhere in Lisbon, up an down hills, exploring the city. Walking was good but I really missed riding my bike - my favourite way to get around. So you can imagine how great I felt when I landed in Barcelona and saw that it was flat, with bike lanes everywhere. I was actually ecstatic, with a massive smile on my face, as I walked from Sant Antoni (Ave Del Parallel -the airport bus stop) to El Born. I had never been on streets like this. I was amazed at the architecture and the amount of shops I walked past.
Exploring the City
Within two days, I bought myself a second hand city bike. Suddenly, I was free to explore the city. I rode everyday in any direction to check out the city. Half the time I was completely lost because everything looked the same to me and there was nothing I could use as a reference point. I couldn’t even work out which way was east. This was unusual for me because I normally have a great sense of direction. But I enjoyed every minute.
After about two weeks, I went to a language school to learn Spanish. The school wasn’t that great but I met some excellent people. And my social life exploded. Soon I knew all the bars in El born and some great jazz bars in Raval.
Big Bang Bar in Raval
My 2nd home every Friday night!
I was having the time of my life. I had more fun in two weeks than I had in Australia for the last 2 years. Just walking around the streets made me happy. Everyone was out and about at all hours of the day and night, enjoying life, hanging out with friends. This was so different to my life in Australia, where most people went home after work to have dinner, watch a movie and go to bed.
A BIG Decision
After two weeks, I quit the language school and made a huge decision. I was going to take a chance and stay in Barcelona. From this point on my holiday changed as I worked day and night to do all that I could to stay in Barcelona. Even though I had an EU passport, BREXIT was looming and I was in a mad rush to get myself locked into the Spain system before the end of March.
For the next 5 weeks my daily tasks included:
Applying for a million jobs (difficult without a NIE or Spanish language).
Looking for permanent accommodation.
Still trying to have fun and enjoy my holiday.
I used every online tool in the book to connect with people and opportunities. I was so stressed out my jawbone was locked and swollen for about a month. I was grinding my teeth every night. I had several interviews with call centres, did online training with an English Language Academy and then accepted a job with another company to teach English to school children. After two classes, I realized that teaching English to school children after they have been at school all day was not good for them or me. So I quit.
The next day, my plane left for Australia without me. I emailed my company and resigned. I had about 1200 Euros in the bank and no job. But I had determination.
Then, a few days later, Oxinity contacted me for an interview. As I had written so many applications, I didn’t even remember applying with them. Anyway, I was called in to meet some staff and learn about the Oxinity community of teachers. From that first moment, I immediately felt like I was home. The staff and teachers were all fantastic and the Oxinity system of teaching was the best I have ever seen for teaching English. After a week of training about the system, because I was already an Australian qualified teacher, I taught my first Spanish student (That’s you, Francesco!).
I am loving my job. I ride my bike all over Barcelona to my classes and am meeting some wonderful, interesting Spanish people. It is such a pleasure for me to teach my students and see the glow in their eyes when they learn a new thing. I am now the happiest teacher in Barcelona!
I took an enormous and challenging risk to try and stay here. But after all the hard work, it has paid off. Now I can finally say, “Adios Australia, Hola Barcelona.”
(Click on the images in this blog to go to the original source)