The narrow streets of Barcelona, Spain

I started this journey by taking a break from my studies and having no idea about what I wanted to do. For a few months, I wandered around in my home country with no real purpose, except a project here and there, while a dear friend of mine was on an Erasmus scholarship in Barcelona. I wanted to try the Erasmus experience myself.  However, at that time I had two dates to keep track of in my head: my dentist appointment on the 19th of November and the Erasmus deadline, the 16th of November; needless to say that I went to the dentist on the 16th and missed my Erasmus deadline

Meanwhile, the time for my friend to come home was approaching, and I felt that for him, leaving Barcelona would be a cruel blow. So I started thinking: “Ok, there’s no need for him to get back, I’ll go to Barcelona, and I’ll get a job and…” and this is about where I stopped. I had no degree, no work experience and I truly believed I had no skill to sell. So, I continued scrolling down on Facebook as I do when my illusions are shattered, and I saw the only sponsored add that had something to say to me: “Get TEFL certified & teach English?”. I clicked and there it was: the answer to my concern – a degree that would give me the means to work abroad in a field I was passionate about – languages.

Life as an English teacher, drinking coffee and lesson planning outside MACBA in Barcelona, Spain

I started the course in March and finished it in April. On the 7th of April, I got hired as a tour guide for English speaking clients. (Starting with the second half of the course I was also applying for English teaching jobs and other positions related to English just to see what would happen. I also made an appointment to get my NIE – I was being proactive). I set up profiles on and and requests started coming in – I am now, therefore, an English teacher as well. Guiding means I only meet foreigners; teaching private classes, however, is all about meeting locals who often become guides themselves for me. This was the starting point for me to learn Spanish, my fourth language.

Aside from all the working, there is, of course, the city. A city that I believe will soon turn into a legend. By talking to all the expats who are teaching, learning or just travelling, I found that there is virtually no one who would even think about leaving Barcelona for good. At first, I couldn’t understand why. It wasn’t love at first sight, I wasn’t impressed at first glance; it seemed like it didn’t have an identity or that it was several cities put together accidentally, although I did learn about its coherence in school (I’m an architecture student). Weeks passed by and I started walking the streets (this is another perk of being a private tutor, you get to go everywhere around town) being more and more aware – and I started noticing people’s habits, people’s pace, their way of relating to their hometown. Nobody’s in a hurry but they get things done, nobody skips lunch but they do work hard, nobody misses a good party but they wake up early – all this and more makes Barcelona a next-to-ideal city.

There is room and things to do for everybody. At MACBA, for example, you can skate your soul out, in Laberint d’Horta (Gaudi had a strong disapproving reaction to it but it’s exquisite) you can escape the city’s noise and heat, the museums help you satisfy your thirst for culture and if you want to travel around, you’re close to everything: hiking in Montserrat, taking a walk, snorkel or kayak on Costa Brava, the medieval city of Girona or closer Sitges.

There is more. Life as an English teacher works like this: you wake up at 9 a.m., brush your teeth, put street clothes on, and off you go to a café to plan your lessons. I usually have a Carajillo (I’ll leave the pleasure to discover what it is to you) and read La Vanguardia because I am desperate to be fluent in Spanish soon. You go to your private or academy classes and meet wonderful people, mostly locals and share your knowledge (this is my favourite part). I won’t lie, it’s not easy, and it’s not like taking candy from a baby. It’s hard work but it is very, very rewarding. After teaching, you go off to an early dinner at about 8 p.m. and then to have a vermouth with friends. The fun thing is that this is not a typical teacher’s day! Nobody could describe that because there is no such thing. You’re going to do it your own way, and this is amazing!

Well, that being said, I’m off to have a drink with some friends.

By Catalina Francu,



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