The Workation Diary blog series summarize my experience living abroad for work and vacation in Barcelona, the capitol Catalonia. My first blog was about the preparation, the second addressed the incredible architecture and art, which characterize the city to this day. The third post summarizes public work places (cafés) that offers a good environment for work with a laptop. The current blog post is about the Spanish language course and new friends, I made here.
Seeking Language Courses in Barcelona
One important thing in advance: start and book the language course as soon as possible. Due to some personal reasons, I was not able to book in advance, but had to look here in Barcelona. This was not good for me, since I started with the course 3 weeks later and had a gap of 4 weeks. Thanks to my little knowledge from a course in Germany back in 2019, I had a bit knowledge and it was not so hard to close the gap.
There are a lot of courses here with different focuses. Some are online only, some let you choose and give a discount if you attend online and others are in person only. Some of them – if not all – also offer social activities next to their courses, such as day trips and city tours.
Since I was a bit in hurry, I had not time to have a broader search for language courses. I had to combine distance, price and course start date and ended up with Speakeasy Language Course close to Universitat Barcelona. Other courses I found were BCNLIP Language school and CactusBcn Spanish Language School (online only).
Some courses offer discount for paying all in upfront. If you are very sure you follow the course through to the end, this can be an option. Otherwise, you should book the course only for the a little time to check how you going.
Day Trip with the Language Course to Carcassone
As described above, Speakeasy offers social activities in spare time. Last saturday we were on a day trip to Carcassone in France. The medieval fortress, La Cité, in the Languedoc region of southern France’s Carcassonne is renowned for its numerous watchtowers and double-walled defences. The earliest walls were constructed during the Gallo-Roman era, and significant augmentations were added in the 13th and 14th centuries. Inside the Cité, the 12-century Château Comtal offers tours of the interior ramparts and archaeological artifacts.
Overall, the stay there was very nice but the trip itself took more than 3 hours for one way. Effectively, we were more on the road to Carcassone than in Carcassone itself. But still, a very nice place to visit.
Making New Friends through the Language Course
One major advantage of a language course is that you make new friends with a similar interest: learning the language. Usually everyone has a different background – nobody living in Spain would join (a A1) Spanish language course, right? And, personally I think getting in touch with new people and hearing their stories is very interesting, sometimes sad and sometimes very amazing.
For instance, on the day trip, I met someone from the U.S with Spanish roots but no language skills. Giving up the life in the states to take care of a very old family member, the person is now learning Spanish and trying to adapt the live in the EU.
Another person was a musician from Armenia who stays here for a couple of month for just learning the language and the third was an older person changing his locations for a couple of times – Morocco, Germany, the US and now Spain.
However, most people come from Russia for obvious reasons. Due to the war in Ukraine, many Russian people left the country and try to find a new home in different countries and regions – for instance in Barcelona. Listening to their stories, it was a bit embarrassing that I “only” had a workation here in Barcelona, while other people had to turn their life upside down.
For instance, for people from Russia, it is hard to get a bank account in Europe since banks are afraid that some of these people will end up on a sanction list and the banks are affected. Further, a freelancing person who is still working for a Russian company has problems to get his money since Russian banks are not in the SWIFT system anymore.
One of the newly met Russian people told me that it is hard for them to be abroad since people are treating them as the “face of the aggressor” – similar to COVID-19 times, were Asian people got attacked because they are Asian. Another one was a doctor in Russia but is not allowed to practice his profession here due to buerocractic reasons.
My feelings for the last two weeks is very mixed. On the one hand, I finally found a course, started learning Spanish and made new friends. On the other hand, being in touch with the real life (a.k.a war) has made me think. Once again I realized how cursed war is. It not only claims victims without any guilt at the actual place of war, but affects also ordinary people – such as a freelancer and a doctor.
In this manner: stop war, get out of Ukraine, start negotiations! #StandWithUkraine