New Beginnings in Catalonia

It’s been just over a month since I moved to the Catalan city of Girona in Spain to begin a new life with my girlfriend. We first started going out in 2015 after meeting online on a site called Conversation Exchange where you practice speaking other languages. After a couple of months she came over to visit. We started a relationship with the plan being that I would move to Spain. We never imagined it would take this long to get out here but life can be very complicated and so can moving to another country. Really the move should have taken place last year but in the end it had to be postponed due to Covid.

I graduated from my MA in Translation back in March and since then life has been something of a rollercoaster. At first I really went to town on my job search. By June I had contacted just over 170 UK-based translation agencies. It was a thankless task but I did have limited success and managed to get registered with a small amount of agencies. I also passed a couple of the short translation tests some agencies ask you to do so that was a nice little confidence booster. I also spent time working on my Continuous Professional Development (CPD) by improving my Spanish language skills, looking into the finer details of running a business and also writing one or two blog posts for my website. I also attended a couple of seminars with the Institute of Translation and Interpreting related to starting work as a freelancer.

I was building some good momentum but then in mid-June I had an offer on my house which I accepted. The house had been put on the market in January 2020 but due to the pandemic interest had been fairly sparse. Suddenly all of my attention shifted from my translation work to selling my furniture and packing my life into cardboard boxes to be taken to my parents’ house for storage. Completion occurred in early July and my next big challenge was to plan my move to Spain. And by the time I finally got to Spain in mid-August it was full-on holiday season. So now my life was filled with Costa Brava beaches and day trips to wonderful coastal villages or hidden gems tucked away in a mountain somewhere. Delicious food was sampled on a daily basis and many drinks were quaffed. We also had a weekend in Barcelona, visited festivals and did a few long walks including one in France.

It’s only been these last couple of weeks that I’ve slowly but surely got my priorities set on translation again. The momentum I lost in June is coming back. I’ve been taking a peek on LinkedIn more regularly and commenting on a few posts. I’ve been looking at SDL Trados again and working on its features. I’ve been looking at a few translations I want to complete and a few potential clients I want to contact here in Girona. I’ve also been working on a mammoth spreadsheet of over 200 Spanish translation agencies I intend to contact over the coming weeks once I’ve translated my CV. I’m getting up early in the morning and going on some amazing runs as the sun rises. I’m eating lots of fruit and plenty of salad. I’ve been trying to learn some Catalan with my girlfriend whilst teaching her English as she’s still as bad as she was back in 2015!

Since we started going out there have been times when I thought I’d never get over here. It has been far from easy and there were moments when we nearly called it a day. But now I’m here and life is good. It’s not perfect and I’m still trying to get used to certain cultural aspects. The most obvious thing is the heat. I’m currently sat writing this post in none other than my boxer shorts and it’s still sweltering! Another aspect, and perhaps the hardest to get my head round, is evening meal times. I usually eat at 5 or 6 o’clock in the UK but over here they all eat at 9 or 10 which is just mental. Imagine having a heavy meat-laden meal at 10 o’clock at night with a few glasses of wine and then having to go to bed an hour or so later with all that on your stomach in a bedroom that is more akin to a furnace! One thing that I’ll never get used to is the dubbing of British and American TV programmes and films. As soon as Goodfellas came on the other day and I heard Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci blabbing on in Spanish I had to turn it straight over. So much of an actor’s performance comes from his voice and this is lost through dubbing. Trips to the supermarket can be a bit on the gory side as well, particularly the offerings of pigs’ trotters. I also saw some rabbit which I thought I might try until I spotted that their eyeballs were in with the meat.

So from a cultural perspective there are quite a few adjustments I need to make. And now that I’m finally here I also have to go through the process of applying for residency which is a series of small complex procedures that will probably take anything up to six months to complete. Had I arrived last year during the transition period it would have been so much easier but Covid decided to throw a spanner in the works. However, all in all, things are coming together nicely. With any luck I should be getting my teeth into some exciting translation projects before I know it. In the meantime, there are opportunities to practice CPD everywhere I look, from the news I watch on the television to the conversations I have with my girlfriend.

Viva España! I shouldn’t really say that in Catalonia…

Living the dream!

4 thoughts on “New Beginnings in Catalonia

  1. Hey, congratulations on your big life change! You were day-tripping where I was supposed to be vacationing until COVID ruined those plans. There’s a hotel in Barcelona that still has us on the hook for 3 nights and just won’t let it go. If I don’t keep kicking the can down the road (we’ll try to come next summer… nope, things are still COVID-y, let’s try the summer after that) they’re going to charge me for all three nights.
    I feel ya regarding the late meals. What you mentioned is my complaint exactly. Overheated bedrooms and full stomachs do not make for a good night’s sleep.
    Best of luck with the translation business!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s terrible they won’t just give you your money back. Hopefully you might be able to come next year or sometime soon. I’ve still got 3 nights booked in a glamping pod in the Scottish Lakes which I’ve had to keep on cancelling and rebooking due to the joys of Covid. As things stand we are now supposed to be going next August so we’ll see what happens.
      I’ve had loads of comments about the ‘eating late and sleeping in boiling bedrooms’ problem. I suppose Spanish people are used to it as they’ve done it all their life, but for people like us I don’t know if it’s something we can ever fully adapt to. There’s been times when I’ve thought this must be the closest thing to pregnancy when I’ve been lying there late at night cradling my food baby with sweat dripping off my brow!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s technically my fault. I accidentally booked a nonrefundable room, which I never do. I blame it on poor web design – it wasn’t easy to tell that it was nonrefundable. And hey, at least your nightly problem is giving you an empathetic perspective toward pregnant women that not many men feel. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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