Experiencing Spanish Laid-backness

Anastasiya Kolesnichenko
October 24, 2018
Bunkers - El Carmen

Everyone has a unique story to tell. I’m sharing a series of those from people who chose to leave their home universities and explore Barcelona for a semester. What are their ways of adjusting to a new culture and environment? I interviewed students who came to Spain from different backgrounds and even countries. I asked them about their epiphany moment, when they realized they were not simply tourists in Barcelona, they actually lived there. Here’s one of the stories:

Sophia walked from Oficina De Extranjería, where she had to pick up her working visa, she was on her way up to Bunkers. Sophia glazed into the city around her, bumped into tourists crowds, and observed distinct Spanish architecture. She saw the Sagrada Familia and laughed — what a coincidence, she has just got a document that allows her to legally work in Barcelona and she saw the most cliche Barcelona sight. 

Sophia’s friends from all over the world were waiting up at El Carmel. They brought pizza and drinks for a little sunset watching picnic. "Here I am sitting on a colorful blanket, that I bought at Barceloneta Beach, enjoying an incredible view and chatting with my international friends", Sophia thought. That was her “that’s not home, but it feels like home” moment.

Sophia Saprykina, 19, is from Moscow, Russia, she studies hospitality at Saxion University of Applied Sciences in Enschede, Netherlands. When it was time for Sophia to choose a place to go for her semester-long internship, she picked Barcelona. She was attracted by Spanish laid-backness and by the easiness of getting a working visa. 

Sophia works at Hotel Arts, which is owned by Ritz Carlton. “When I was going here, I was sure it could not be a hard job. I am just an intern, I’m still learning and no one would ask much of me. Also, I thought Spanish people were not really hardworking. In reality, all I do is work. I feel like an adult, I wake up at 5 in the morning and spend most of my day working,” she said.

However, that is what Sophia wanted to get out of her experience in Barcelona. She’s been to Spain before, but never for long enough to actually understand how that would feel to live there. She wanted to deal with little everyday problems. And she got a chance. Sophia shared a story of when she had to pick up her visa documents: “I had to go to Oficina De Extranjería, which translates as an Immigration Office. No-one spoke English there. Not a single person! I thought it would be a non-Spanish-friendly place, but it wasn’t. I had to use Google Translator to explain what I needed.”

Even though Sophia has to wake up at 5 am every morning, she wakes up in an amazing city that offers an endless amount of opportunities. She walks to work by the beach, she gets to watch the sunrise from the top floor of one of the most expensive hotels in Barcelona, she interacts with people from over the world, including some famous people who come to the city as tourists. And even on bad days, Sophia remembers that not everyone gets to put Ritz Carlton on their CV, especially at such a young age.


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Anastasiya Kolesnichenko

<p>My name is Anastasiya Kolesnichenko, and I am from Siberia, Russia. I moved to New York two years ago with my heart and mind open to exploring and with my horse by my side, who is always there for me, during my ups and downs. I've<br>been to 45 countries and am planning on visiting every single country in the world.</p><p>My fun fact is that, considering the fact, that my USB flash drive is shaped as a chocolate bar, my 18th birthday present was a ticket to Peru, and that no matter what time of the day it is I am drinking hot chocolate, I can consider myself a person absolutely obsessed with chocolate.</p>

2018 Fall
Home University:
The New School
Novosibirsk, Russia
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