I LOVE THIS CITY. I love it. I really couldn't say it enough. I really do think that Barcelona is one of (if not THE) greatest cities in the world, and I have been fortunate enough to have been to a lot of cities in the world! Barcelona has everything: culture, arquitecture, beach, weather, soccer, skating, food, girls... I mean the list really goes on and on. When I was flying here, I was wondering whether Barcelona is truly how I thought it was in my head, praying that I wasn't romanticizing the city. Im glad to see that I wasn't.

My first week came with a lot of ups and downs, definitely more than I expected. The plan was to be here for a year and try to make a life for myself, but because of certain visa-related complications, I had to change my plans. For those who care to read, I will explain the situation. Because the Schengen tourist visa is for 90 days in a period of 180 days, I can stay here in Barcelona (or any other Schengen member country) for a maximum of 90 days, or in my case until December 9th. But once I leave, I cannot come back into the Schengen zone for three months. Basically, my options were the following:

  1. Work visa: Because of covid, the Spanish government has been a little more reluctant to actually give out work visas. In order to get one, you must first have a job lined up, then do an interview with the consulate in your home country *before* coming to Spain. The whole process takes about 3-4 months, so even if I wanted to get a work visa, I wouldn't have had enough time between when I decided I was going to Spain and when my flight actually left.
  2. Student visa: If I wanted to, I could pay for 1 year of Spanish classes (which I really don't need) and the school would help me get my student visa. In fact, they would basically do the whole visa process for me, since their whole business model is more about getting people visas than actually teaching the Spanish language. Unfortunately, that school costs $2,500, which is way too much for me, especially considering that I would still have to pay living expenses.
  3. Highly-skilled worker visa: In Spain they offer a visa for "highly-skilled" workers which meet certain criteria. This visa you can actually get from inside Spain. I meet the first requirement, which is to have at least a master's degree and that you have to work in a profitable industry (like tech for me). BUT you would have to have at least three years of prior experience working in that particular field AND your job has to pay you at least 50k+ euros/year, which is virtually impossible here.
  4. Extend my tourist visa: This is in theory possible, but nobody really gets granted an extension, and it would have to be for attending a funeral or wedding of a loved one and you have to return right after it.
  5. Go back home to the US: This would be a really sad option, but I guess it's pretty self explanatory.
  6. Go to somewhere in Europe outside the Schengen Zone, spend three months there, and then come back into the Schengen Zone once again. The current plan is to go and pass the winter months in Romania, where Amoo Farhood has an apartment that we can use.

SO, after realizing that I could only spend three months in Spain, and more importantly got to ground zero and realized how complicated it is to get an apartment in Barcelona, my strategy for apartment hunting changed. Here in Barcelona I have heard nothing but horror stories from tourists, locals, and ex-pats alike with respect to getting an apartment in Barcelona. First off, the landlords are generally terrible people. Then, you have to front one month's rent for a "deposit", another month's rent for "fianza", PLUS a hefty agency fee usually in the hundreds of euros. Then, if you are willing to do all that, you will probably get a scummy apartment and have to pay an astronomic amount of money since its a short term rental. Plus, good luck getting your deposit or "fianza" back. In conclusion, I dropped the option of finding an apartment around here.

I decided to look for a room to rent, so I talked to my small network here in Barcelona, trying to get some leads. I was recommended to start looking on certain apps that have people looking for roommates. I messaged 20 something people, of which only two replied. I tried to set up appointments but man it was really quite discouraging. Spanish people are like Hawaiian people (no offense to either of the populations), they are reluctant to get things done and everything moves very slowly. On my 8th day here in Barcelona, I met up with my old friend from high school, Gabriel. Turns out, he has a Peruvian friend named Diego, who has an empty room in his house that his family was thinking about renting out. The problem that they had was that they were reluctant to rent it out to someone they didn't know, since they also lived there and it was their family home. But because they knew and were fond of Gabriel, they were willing to rent to me. They are a really nice family and I think that it is going to be a really good experience for both parties.

In terms of what I have been doing in my day-to-day, I have been doing a lot of skating, walking around the city, visiting my uncle, and trying to reconnect with old friends as well as make new ones! Now that I am not so stressed out the whole apartment or visa thing, I would imagine that I will enjoy it even more here (if that is even possible). Over the weekend, I went out with Junior and his friends, where I met all kinds of cool and not-so-cool people (I'm talking about you, Jordi communista). I am trying to put myself out there, even more than usual, in order to make friends. I have only made a couple of true friends so far here. Most of the people I have met are the "lets exchange instagrams" and done kind of thing. Either way, I am not having any issues making friends. I reconnected with my friends Reda, Libe, and Uri from my high school days, made a good friend skating, and of course I have my built-in besties in Junior, Ashly, and Ona :)