I'm nearing the end of my 21-day trip to the beautiful country of Spain.
It's been two years since I dreamed of living in this country. But because my husband and I couldn't just pack up and leave Toronto, we decided to do a short visit instead. I had a high expectation of what Spain needed to be like, so I avoided vacationing here.
I was scared that my dream would be crushed and that I'd have to give up my dreams of living abroad in a European country one day.
In the first few days after landing in Barcelona, I didn't have a very good feeling about the city. My first thought was, "why is the city so dirty?" Where I live close to Toronto, things are almost always clean and organized.
So seeing Barcelona and not having a good feeling about it made me feel nervous.
I'm supposed to like this country since I've dreamed of living here.
But after 2 weeks of getting to know different cities both in Spain and Portugal—Barcelona, Porto, Lisbon, Seville, and Granada—I've realized that Spain has made me embrace my multipassionate self.
The search for a new home as a multipassionate
Whenever I close my eyes and envision my future, I imagine myself living in a house with amazing views outside.
I imagine writing in small coffee shops, going to Yoga classes, visiting the park, and observing people. In my vision, I'm awed by the rich culture, surroundings, and history of the place I live in. And then I come home to my husband, where we meet and talk about the exciting things that have happened.
But for some reason, I can't achieve that where I live. There are no coffee shops around me to do my writing, yoga classes are unaffordable. So I do what I can by writing at home or at Starbucks (although it doesn't have the same magic as writing in a local coffee shop), and I do yoga at home.
When I go outside, there's nothing interesting to do or see. It's a boring city. Don't get me wrong. It has everything I need and more. But we weren't put on this planet to only have everything we need.
We also need to feel fulfilled and satisfied by getting what we want.
And sometimes that want means finding a new home that suits your personality.
Tons of imperfections, but continuous progress
One of the first things that struck me about visiting Barcelona is that La Sagrada Familia hasn't been finished since it started over 100 years ago.
If you didn't know, La Sagrada Familia is one of the most famous architecture in Barcelona. Its main architect, Antoni Gaudí, died before it got completed. According to The Verge, the construction will be completed by 2026.
But more than an unfinished building, La Sagrada Familia is an excellent metaphor for the city's theme of reinvention. At least, that's what one of our free walking tour guides told us.
Even though it's not complete, it still accepts people to come and see it.
It still proudly presents itself to the world.
When you go to Barcelona, you can feel the proudness of the city. But it's also alive and vibrant. Even though it's a 2,000-year-old city, it's doing its best to make the most of it.
- 100-year-old buildings are turned into museums
- Changing the look and structure of the old buildings is illegal
- Modern stores like Uniqlo are embedded into the vibe of the city
- Royal palaces are turned into useful places like wedding venues, daycares, and concert auditoriums
Despite Barcelona's ugly history (i.e., tons of deaths were involved), it is alive and vibrant today. You'll see different neighbourhoods with different characteristics. In one neighbourhood called the Gothic Quarter, you'll experience the typical European feeling— sitting outside in a café restaurant, walking cobble-stoned quarters, catching a glimpse of old catholic churches in the renaissance style.
You'll see more modern architecture in a different neighbourhood like the Sants. Straight pavements for the cards and broader streets. It's a blend of European and western culture.
Each neighborhood gives you a different feeling, but it's always trying to improve as it sees fit.
Like La Sagrada Familia, I'm always under construction. I'm always looking for ways to improve myself in different ways. How can I be a better wife? How can I be a better writer? How can I be a better nurse to my patients? How can I do my best today regardless of what has happened in the past?
Getting to know the city of Barcelona has helped me embrace my imperfections but still strive for progress.
You can find the place for unique interests
Embracing my multiple interests in a specialized society is quite hard.
Social media tells me I have to "niche down" while I understand why it doesn't mean it's easy. So choosing a city that lets me be myself is pretty liberating. Barcelona is a city that fits many types of individuals.
You have the gothic quarter for historical geeks that makes you fall in love with the culture of Spain as you wander the cobblestone streets met with cafés and restaurants.
You have the neighborhood El Born for discovering the landmarks of Spain. You have La Gracía for the free-spirited vibes, but it also attracts families that want to settle. At night you can hit Barceloneta if you want the beach and beach club vibes.
I explored these main ones, but many neighborhoods have their own personalities.
And all these neighborhoods are within 20 minutes of each other, accessible by public transport. I don't have to drive for an hour as I do back home if I want to do something cool and exciting.
In this city, I can satisfy my wants and needs. If I want to learn about history or art, I can pop by in one of the many museums. If I want to sit and sip cappuccino for hours, there are many options.
And the fact that they can do almost everything from art to pastries and do it well is what makes Barcelona or Spain, in general, quite an exciting home one day.
Things that don't make sense together will make sense to people who matter
While visiting Andalucía or the southern part of Spain, I found out that it was previously an Islamic community before the Catholic monarch took over.
And before the Catholics decided to kick out other religions to reign in the city, three religions lived harmoniously in the province of Anadalucía — the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims.
When you visit Granada and Seville, you feel like you are in a city where your parents were Christian and Muslim. The architecture shows this very well.
One of the places we went to was called La Alhambra. It was built by the Moors in the 13th century. But when the Catholics took over in the 15th century, they didn't demolish the mosques (Muslim churches) or Muslim symbols inside the buildings.
They recognized the beauty of the Muslim/Arabic culture and decided to keep it.
Imagine that for a second.
You're a king, and your main religion is Catholic. But the decoration of your house is all Muslim decorations.
Instead of destroying everything, the Spanish Catholics decided to add their spin to it. In some parts of the Alhambra, you'll see the Catholic touch that includes paintings of crosses and important figurines of their time. (Something you'll never see in the Muslim culture as they prohibit it).
You'll see roman Catholic paintings along with Muslim symbols.
From the outside, it might not make sense. But for the people ruling the city and the commoners, it makes sense. Because for them, it symbolized peace and respect for each other's cultures.
Being multipassionate in this society sometimes doesn't make sense to others. For example, a YouTuber named Bailey Sarian combines true crimes and make-up. Her videos are stories of true crime while she's putting on make-up.
Would you watch it?
I personally wouldn't, but 6.4 million people are into it. At least that's what her subscribers mean. It might not make sense to us, but that's her thing.
As a multipassionate, visiting Seville and Granada made me realize that I don't have to scratch things from the start. I can build on what I know right now to make new things for other people.
In a way, this piece is my way of combining my love for travel, writing, and self-growth.
I thought I was setting myself up for disappointment by having high expectations when I decided to visit Spain, even for a little bit.
But I'm so glad that I came here to see what it's like, and now I know for sure that it's a country that will help me embrace my authentic self. The city isn't afraid to express itself, no matter how ugly its history is. (I say ugly because a lot of deaths happened.)
At the same time, the city attracts people who also want to embrace their most authentic selves.
If you're unhappy in your current home, it's probably in conflict with your true self.
In that case, is it time to find another home?