bureaucracy / food / homesickness

Things I Don’t Like About Spain

Ok, so living in Spain is generally pretty cool, aside from the super stressful time I’ve been having lately. It does sound really glamorous and exciting, but it’s definitely a not a permanent vacation. Some people think it is, and I certainly wouldn’t say no to that either sometimes!

Barcelona-Montjuic-Spain

But at some point, things just become life; maybe a nicer life than at home, but it’s not 100% stimulating and exciting all the time. And eventually the not-so-nice things about life come around. On that note, here are some things I still don’t really like about Spain. 

In no order, here’s my list: 

Misssss this!

1) No 24-hour Mexican food restaurants (or cheap, good ones). Seriously, get on it, España!

2) Tile floors. I miss carpet! My feet are always cold.

3) How slow and confusing things can be. Case in point: construction workers randomly showed up at my apartment and left a bunch of debris everywhere. Then they made the roof collapse in the bathroom. So there are 6 of us (plus visitors) with 1 roofless shower and 1 toilet.

Their solution was to take off MORE of the roof, and they’re kind of chilling about it. Occasionally small trains of men in suits let themselves into the apartment to sigh over the situation and point enthusiastically. It took over 2 months to fix. It’s  WINTER! 


It’s pretty in winter here, but way colder than I’m used to.

4) Being far away from home

5) Dealing with the pains of bureaucracy in another language (and the intricacies of things like relationships!)

6) Not knowing where to buy things! Everything has its own specific store. The individualized store thing is usually good, but drives me a little crazy at other times. They don’t seem to be as connected to the internet for stuff like this. 

The shop with the best name – the ferreteria, or hardware store (not ferret store)
Photo credit: Jordi Brió on Flickr

7) On a similar note, not knowing where to look for things like a soccer team to join (though I do have people helping me on this one at last).

8) And having to look up weird words when I go shopping. I almost always have to consult a dictionary for vegetables….that’s probably a sign I should cook more of them! 

9) The food, though excellent, is a little different from what I’m used to and I’m still adjusting.

Looks yummy…but what is it??

10) Having to cook for myself….hatehatehate. Can my next apartment come with a live-in cook please??

11) The terrible mail system. I got a package sent at the beginning of October that is still not here. Everyone in my apartment seems to have issues with it too. 

12) Real winter. I am freeeeeezing all the time! See above roof issue as well (though this just got fixed a couple days ago). 

Not so much an exception as a rule.


13) It’s not just the Sagrada Familia – the whole city of Barcelona seems to be under construction. There are always new, long-running construction sites on my street, so my room is always noisy. 

14) The mild discrimination that comes from not speaking the language 100% perfectly and looking very, very different from the people here. This isn’t extreme discrimination by any means, but it’s certainly something I’ve never experienced before. 

Some of these are obviously more serious that others, and some will change while others won’t. Well, I hope my cooking abilities at least will take a turn for the better! I’m surprised how many are about food, as I’m not especially interested in food at all. But it does make a difference. 

On a related note, I was looking at this list of untranslatable words and came across the French word “dépaysement”, which is “the feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country.” A friend thought this was homesickness, but I disagree.

I think it’s that constant, underlying sense that you don’t quite fit in somewhere automatically the way you do in your home country. And that’s maybe the hardest thing to adjust to because it’s impossible to learn. It’s not necessarily a big deal, or even a bad thing, but it is a hard thing sometimes. 

I like living in Spain and I seriously love Barcelona, but it’s definitely not a fairytale 24 hours a day. 

Love this city. 

Currently reading: 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
Currently listening: “Yr Mangled Heart” by Gossip
(It’s a week for sad stories and artists beginning with G.)

Besos!
-Jess

6 thoughts on “Things I Don’t Like About Spain

  1. Hi Jess, I just discovered your blog via various other expat blog sites! And honestly, I think it was a little synchronicity at play, bc I’m considering moving to Barcelona and would love to have some inside (expat) input! I was wondering if there would be any way I could pick your brain about it? Perhaps via email or fb or skype or however is easiest? I am really enjoying your posts so thanks so much for sharing! Hope to hear back from you, if you’ve got some time, that is.
    Cheers!

    ps. I’m already in Spain, but in the North in Pamplona. Oh and I’m from Canada 😉

    • Oh awesome, I’m more than happy to talk with you! If you want to get in touch with me via Facebook just search for “Jessica Bowler” (there’s only one in Barcelona).

      I’m glad you like my posts! How are you liking Pamplona?

  2. Incidentally, the sign on the front of that hardware store says that they sell SNAILS. Who would know to go to a hardware store for snails?

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