Interview with Patricia Zeegers
45-54 years old
English, Dutch and Spanish
I live 40 km north of Barcelona in El Vallès Oriental.
I am a business strategy consultant.
Introducing Patricia Zeegers, a Dutch expat in Barcelona.
Why did you choose to relocate to Barcelona?
Having lived abroad as a child with my parents and sister I wanted to replicate the experience. I was curious if I would be able to learn a new language and build up my life in another culture. The location was not important at the time, the Mediterranean climate and lifestyle felt attractive. Spanish would be a good language to add to my existing skillset long term. For professional reasons being in or near a big city was important and the final choice was made for Barcelona.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced after your relocation?
The completely unregulated housing market. Sky high prices especially for expats, often not matching the quality of the property.
What do you love the most about Barcelona?
The incredible mix of people living here and the laid back atmosphere. International city yet compact and easily navigated.
If you could give one piece of advice to future expats in Barcelona, what would it be?
Learn the language and connect with the locals in your barrio.
What do you miss the most about home?
The bicycle infrastructure. I have seen Barcelona transform itself in the past 15 years from a city with a handful of bicycles to a city where bicycles are everywhere. There is much room for improvement in infrastructure as well as bicycle parking and storing solutions.
What was your greatest fear before moving to Barcelona?
I had absolutely no fears, I was ready for the adventure.
Did you experience any particular elements of culture shock?
Yes and I expected it. Culture shock is normal, I've had it before, including reversed culture shock when I moved back "home". The part that took me longest to get to terms with here in Barcelona was the low quality and expensive housing in combination with low wages.
How did you meet your main community of friends?
I was determined not to live in the expat bubble so I learned the language and surrounded myself only with local people in the first year. Only after I settled in did I start to connect with the international community.
Do you use your native language at work?
I work with women entrepreneurs around the Mediterranean. I mainly use English at work.