Today, I’m still living in Barcelona, I don’t see it the same way anymore, compared to when I just got here. It’s not a perfect city, just like any other “best cities” here. Otherwise, what’s the fun, right? It’s a city that offers a lot, but not an easy one to truly integrate with.
I grew up in a traditional middle-class family in Chengdu, where the Pandas are from, so pretty laid back. My parents are the kindest people, I’m so grateful for having them. My favorite memory is my 6 years in primary school, everything was so pure. With my classmates, we laughed and cried all together. Funny how 10-year-old kids know unity better back then. So nostalgic when I think about it, real-time back in the 90s you know, I can still see those rising dust in the playground, those jumping figures in the summer haze. Then, the competition started to kick in at Middle school, especially for us the “one-child policy” generation. It was a hell of a lot of competition in school, no more spare time, only homework and extracurricular tutoring. High school was the beginning phase of western or cultural invasion for me. I used to buy a lot of cracked music CDs from illegal vendors in front of the school, and watched many independent films. Now when I think about it, maybe the idea of longing Western world sprouted there.
After university, I moved to Shanghai, had some crazy experience in this city while working in a model agency as a booker. After a year and a half, I quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to backpacking in South East Asian. That couple of months were one of the best periods in my life. No time frame, just living on different islands, eating street food and living in bungalows, traveling with new friends, enjoying beaches and parties. I had to end the trip after the robbery in Vietnam. The moment I got back, I felt so unsettling, like not knowing how to face normal daily life in the city anymore. I just knew I have to keep the adventure and go further.
I never liked cursory travels, glance over things, take a picture and bounce is not my type of thing. I needed true living experiences. A tourist visa was only good for 2 months, so the student visa was the best solution that came to my mind. After almost a year of preparation, tons of hustles. I got a student visa to Barcelona to further my study. At least that’s what my parents thought of, haha. I remember Berlin was my first choice because of the club culture. But Barcelona has the beach and sunny days, you know I was like “Sure, I’m down”. The first months here were full of excitement and I was indulging in those new experiences here in Europe, then the first robbery happened, my whole backpack got stolen where I had my NIE and other cards plus my camera with an undeveloped full roll. That hit me really hard, especially if you know about paper works in Spain.
Up and down becomes the usual wave. I’d say one of the biggest obstacles was definitely getting the visa and renewing the visa every year. Changing to a work visa is another story. Not going to describe the pain again here but you can guess. On the other side, the best part is definitely being able to travel around those European countries, along with those genius human connections I encountered. Plus, i partied hard in the first 3 years here, no regret. But if you ask me now, I’d say the most precious thing is observing my personal growth. I have done more inner work these days. And I guess it won’t happen the same way if everything was too easy. I know now, obstacles are just opportunities in disguise.
Today, I’m still living in Barcelona, I don’t see it the same way anymore, compared to when I just got here. It’s not a perfect city, just like any other “best cities” here. Otherwise, what’s the fun, right? It’s a city that offers a lot, but not an easy one to truly integrate with. Kind of raw like a jungle you know, not many rules or standards to follow but quite a lot of varieties and surprises. It makes you grow if you hold the right attitude to look at it. At this moment, I’m happy here, I have my lovely place here, I have some good people surrounding me. I know I will probably go live in many other parts of the world, but I also enjoy the process of getting there slowly.
My goal is to embrace the infinite abundance NOW and this is enough, and the rest will just go with the flow, beautifully I suppose.