Does not seem to work when travelling constantly
The last two months seemed to have passed rather quickly, as today marks my last day in Catalonia. Being on the move almost every other week, there isn’t much time spent in a given location to evoke a feeling of being in one place for too long.
Working while travelling constantly confirmed one thing that I thought to be true about myself: I don’t focus as well without a stable setup and routine to have optimum focus. Perhaps a road-warrior suits better for work that does not involve concentrated focus, as I find that my ‘flow’ isn’t as easily established with inconsistent routines and disruptions from different locations and travelling requirements.
But that said, I do appreciate the change of scenery at some of the locations I’ve been working from, and it does beat the view of the same office desk.
To me, there are plenty of downsides from working remotely, the main one being the inconsistent access to a reliable Internet connection. Outside of that, living in other people’s homes, also meant that certain day-to-day amenities that we need daily is a new learning habit, and we have to plan around looking and getting those things between different locations. That’s not to mention having to lug them around. (In fact, I had carried around a huge roll of paper towel the whole time, while cumbersome, proved to be pretty useful in many situations!)
Thoughts on Catalonia
Weather. It is excellent, compared to Dublin. There is simply no comparison there. If not for the job, it would not have made sense to endure the sun-unfriendly weather at all. While there are other good aspects to Ireland, it’s just difficult to get past the issue with having to deal with a climate that is just part of your 24-7. Being able to around in just just t-shirts and shorts, without being soaked in your underwear, are pretty nice and understated.
Mosquitoes. The weather isn’t all that perfect of course. Warm weather means more mosquitoes, and the most rural it is, the more it’s likely that you’ll have to face the problem. This is one aspect that Ireland does excel in; there are literally no such bloodsuckers around! Having to live with dealing with these annoying pests helps to provide a balanced perspective that it isn’t all perfect in warmer climates either.
Smells. In some areas, a weak smell of sewerage permeates throughout the town - it comes and goes, but the sense is always there. What’s worse, is that one of the houses that we had AirBnb’ed had a pronounced case of the bad smells in the bathroom, outside of which, had been a really nice place to have lived and worked in. It’s a pity that the smell of the bathroom had made it a less appealing stay. Outside of that, people seem to love wearing what I thought was an overpowering scent of pine-like cologne/incense. It isn’t a smell that I was familiar with until I’ve been here. The other novel smell would be of the markets; the fruits and vegetables of this region also seem to have a different scent to what I recognise in Singapore. (It isn’t possible to compare with Dublin, as the concept of an outdoor market doesn’t really exist).
Nudity. People are more at ease with going around naked or topless around here. But I guess that’s probably more of a general trend of the Mediterranians. Women were kayaking around or sunbathing topless usually at the edges of a busier beach. And it seems that the older they are, the less they would be wearing. ;) There’s certainly plenty of retirees around baking under the midday sun, which in turn, makes their skin dark and leathery. It’s not something I’d prefer or understand why they would aspire to do that, given it’s an indication of sun damage, and not that it’s visually attractive in any situation.
Living. While there are many attractive things about living in Catalonia, given my language impediment, it certainly presents challenges in getting access to services around there. Things like navigating around the transport systems and understanding notices from various officials will not be straightforward if you don’t have a grasp of the language. Some other things are a little easier, needing less interactions, such as going to food and beverage establishments, or the supermarket. That said, without language fluency, it can still be hard, as unexpected situations such as payment systems pausing to ask if you like to round up your change for charity - these things can throw you off easily when you don’t understand what the cashier is saying, or to be able to read what’s shown on the display.
Culture. This really depends on how integrated you want to be. You can live in Catalonia, and still be culturally different from their way of life, or you can adopt the habits of being one of them. There are distinct communities within their population, and you’ll find that they all would do different things peculiar to themselves (which shouldn’t come as a surprise). Like having a kebab wouldn’t be the first-choice of the Catalans, and that neither having a vermut with olives on a weekend afternoon be the lifestyle of the resident Arab or Asian populations.
From a personal perspective, people are welcoming when you participate in their way of life, even though I look rather out-of-place when doing so; an ingrained idea is that I should either work in a cafe or a basar probably raised a few eyebrows from people in smaller towns, but otherwise isn’t seen unusual among family and friends. This obviously does not apply to big centers like Barcelona or Girona. In fact, in big cities, they cater so much to the foreign crowd that it’s pretty easy going around with just English alone.
Back in Dublin
Upon getting out of Dublin Airport, I had the immediate feeling of, ‘oh, why am I doing here?!’
Despite it being October, as far as I’m concerned, it’s already winter. The cold lasts a long time in this country, where the chill will not end till May.
It was tough to bear last year, I’m hoping this year will be less so, or if not, at least there are more options, given movement and travelling restrictions should be further eased.
But while I’m here, time to rug up and keep warm!