Working in Barcelona vs. London

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Despite what it may look like on my Instagram, I spend most of my life at work - that’s why it's so important for me to get it right when choosing a new workplace. To me, work has always been a great place to socialize. As an expat, it’s not always easy to meet new people and with time I found that work was often the best, and most convenient, place to make friends. In the past, I’ve met a lot of my closest friends through work but beyond that I find that having a job gives me a reason to get out of the house everyday – which can sometimes be challenging especially when moving to a new country alone.

That’s one of the reasons why I was adamant I needed to find a job in Spain before moving there - you can read my post on how I did it here - and didn't really want to freelance. However, when I finally got a job in Spain my first thought was “What if I hate working there and don’t make any friends”. Having only ever worked in London, I really didn’t know what to expect. I had heard a lot of things about what it was like working in Spain and I wasn’t sure it would work for me.

Fast forward to present times and I have now been working in Spain for over two months and I’ve discovered a lot of things about what it is really like to work in Barcelona.  Although everyone’s experience is unique, I wanted to share some of the cultural differences I’ve noticed, and my thoughts on working in Barcelona vs. London.

Food

There is something very special about food in Spain. It seems like people here have a totally different relationship with food. When I started working in London, I mainly ate M&S meal deals or sandwiches from Pret a Manger – which at the time seem to be the best option

As I started working in London, I quickly realised that people often rushed through their lunch breaks, in most cases some of my colleagues didn’t even leave their desks for lunch – something I have never seen in Spain. Here, most of my colleagues bring their food from home, and really take the time to relax during lunch. Lunch time is sacred in Spain, and very few people aren’t making the most of it.

That’s something I really like about the Spanish lifestyle, in general people really take the time to enjoy eating their food – which totally work for me since I am a massive foodie. The only downside about lunch in Spain, is how late people eat. Some people take their lunch breaks as late as 3pm which I personally find unbearable, holding off from eating until 2pm is already a massive challenge for me but I am slowly getting used to it.

PEOPLE

When I moved to Barcelona, I had heard mixed reviews from people on what it was like to make friends there – especially Catalans. My personal experience couldn't have been more different. From day one, I felt welcome by my colleagues at work and quickly made friends with people from different countries including a lot of people from all around Spain. One of the perks of working in a start-up is that it’s often filled with loads of young professionals and therefore can be a great place to meet people. In the past two months, I quickly created a close network of amazing friends with whom I spend most of my time with, and that are making my time in Barcelona even more special. If you are thinking about moving abroad, I would definitely recommend looking for a job early on as it can be the best way to make friends.  

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Holidays

Spain is renowned for its hot weather, in fact in some part of the country it can get as hot as 40 degrees during the summer, which can easily become unbearable – especially when working. That’s why around this time of the year most people tend to go on holidays, and most offices either close during August, or implement reduced working hours during this month. In my case, my office closes at 3:30pm in August which I am delighted about, and which doesn’t usually happen in London.

 Work life balance

I am not sure if this is to do with the industry where I am working in, but in London I had a manic lifestyle. I used to finish work very late and feel like I spent most of my days at work. In Spain, I noticed that people have a lot more relaxed approach to work. In my company for instance, most people tend to stick to agreed working hours, and overall people are a lot more chilled about work. Funnily, even though I work longer hours than in London, I feel like I have a lot more time to enjoy my free time – it helps that the sun sets super later during the summer! :)