April 2, 2014, by Guest blog

I went in guns blazing and got socialising from the word go

Post written by Sophie Gorvett.

Having chosen to do three shorter placements over the span of 14 months, one of the most daunting things for me prior to this whole experience was the idea of having to make new friends, not once, not twice but three times during this whole period.

It wasn’t that I have trouble making new friends, but from previous experience I know that always being the ‘new one’ can be tiring, and sometimes all you want is to be with those who know you best and let loose. However I wasn’t going to let this intimidate me, and decided for my second placement in Spain, my shortest of the three placements I would go in guns blazing and get socialising from the word go.

For my Spanish placement, I was working as an au-pair in Barcelona, a pretty awesome job which gave me a lot of free time for exploring, relaxing and meeting new people. I was very lucky with my family who were absolutely lovely. They immediately introduced me to their very large extended family including first and second cousins, some of which were studying at the University of Barcelona. At first, I was a little timid in asking to meet up with them as I didn’t want to feel like a burden, but quickly I realised they were as keen as I was to meet me, help me with my Spanish and this was great to meet the real students of Barcelona. And of course improve my Spanish! Also, spending time with real Spaniards was brilliant as they were so happy to show me all the cool hidden places to go in and around Barcelona, which gave me a completely different perspective of my now favourite city than I would have got just from following my much loved copy of the Lonely Planet.

During this placement, I was also keen to meet up with other au-pairs who were sharing the same experience as me at the same time, so that we could vent about our day to day children problems, and make the most of the days we had free when the kids were at school. Nothing really came from other friends of the family who had au pairs, but this did not deter me, and I started an online group for au-pairs in Barcelona, both on Facebook and on an expat blog which turned out to be a lot more successful! Through this blog I got in contact with lots of other au-pairs from all over the world who were interested in the same things as me and who fancied exploring anything and everything Barcelona during the days. It was also a perfect opportunity to practice my Spanish even more, and when with others or in a group, we were far more confident in attacking a larger Spanish audience.

Overall, I have found that wherever you are, where there’s a will there’s a way. People always want to get to know you if you are learning their language and there will always be others in your situation. With a little time and effort, friends were easily made.

Posted in Making connections