How I managed to learn Spanish and make new connections in Barcelona
So you’ve made up your mind, travelled all the way to a new city, set up your stuff in your new room, gone through your first week of classes and are looking at a chunk of free time: your first weekend in town. What now? Here are some tips to make your experience learning Spanish in Barcelona with Expanish an opportunity to make new friends.
Number 1: Look around
This one might seem obvious, but it’s worth noting. Thinking about hitting the town to check out the must-sees? Maybe exploring the countryside? Odds are the people around you are on the same page and would also welcome some company. In my classroom peers I found the best company one could hope for when tackling a new city, and some of them have become true friends. After all, they too had come to Barcelona to learn Spanish!
Number 2: Take some risks
Social risks, that is. I’m not telling you to get in a strangers car or accept free drinks from shady patrons – please don’t do that. I’m talking about attitude. When I came to Barcelona to learn Spanish, I spent the afternoons of my first week here seeking the relative safety of English speaking expats huddled up in familiar looking sports bars. Then I had and epiphany: I was not going to waste my time talking about the same old topics and staying within the safe zone of English… and neither should you. So whenever you’re out and about and feel like talking to somebody, just do it. The traveller card allows you to introduce yourself quite easily, and you’re even allowed to be a little awkward! Keep in mind common conversation etiquette and you’re good to go.
Number 3: Los amigos de mis amigos son mis amigos
That’s Spanish for “The friends of my friends are my friends”. It’s an old adage that holds up, specially when moving to a new city. It’s also what Joana, who is friends with one of my cousins back home, told me when she invited me over for brunch on a sunny Sunday morning. Barcelona has a high turnover rate – each season sees a new wave of students that come here on an Erasmus grant or to learn Spanish, professionals that get destined here or simply travellers that come and go; so people here know what you’re going through. Reach out to your friends back home and find out who they know in the city, they will be glad to be your welcome wagon.
Number 4: Enroll in planned activities
If you’re anything like me (and 90% of the people I know), you must have a bucket list with some of the things you’d like to do but never actually get around to doing. It might be doing some yoga, learning how to cook some sushi or taking some dancing lessons. This might be your chance to tackle some of those. Barcelona is rife with opportunities to try out new hobbies, and it is a tradition of group classes to gather afterwards for some drinks (or super healthy juices if it’s yoga you go for).
Number 5: Use Expanish resources.
It’s lame to ask for guidance at the school where you go to learn Spanish, right? WRONG. The people that make up the Expanish team know their way around the city and can point you in the right direction when it comes to finding the city’s buzz. Don’t hesitate to ask for some help to figure out where you can hang out to meet locals and other students, or where to sign up to those cooking classes we were talking about.