Girona M’enamora! (Girona Makes Me Fall in Love)

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Guest Post Intro

I moved to…Girona (Catalonia) when I was 22, leaving a job that I loved at IMAGE PR and abandoning the friends I so much cared for.

Before that I lived in…Bucharest, Romania, all my life. And I still think it’s a great city 😉

The reason for moving here was…First I attended an Erasmus scholarship here and then my mother convinced me to graduate here as well.

If I were to describe my current city in one word, that would be (And why?)…Magical. It’s all about the bridges seen by night, the river, the enormous Cathedral and that je ne sais quoi…

The houses of the Onyar (the river crossing Girona), famous for their colours and reflections in the water; also you can see the Cathedral, which has the widest Gothic nave in the world

The houses of the Onyar (the river crossing Girona), famous for their colours and reflections in the water; also you can see the Cathedral, which has the widest Gothic nave in the world

The houses of the Onyar

The houses of the Onyar

A street from the Jewish Quarter in Girona

A street from the Jewish Quarter in Girona

The first thing a new expat needs to know when moving here is…They DO speak Catalan 🙂 You can perfectly move around with Spanish, but speaking Catalan will definitely make you one of them!!

The language issue…When I got here, I spoke Spanish and it was quite easy to learn Catalan (4 months).

Since I moved here I stopped…Roller-skating. The pavement in the Old Quarter is not quite friendly for the skates.

Since I moved here the new thing I started doing is…Acting, drinking coffee and beer 🙂

Acting, the life long passion that I started here in Cataloni

Acting, the life long passion that I started here in Cataloni

My biggest lesson learnt was…First impressions aren’t always true. Catalans seem cold and distant people, but once they open their hearts to you, it’s forever.

On September 11th, Catalonia celebrates its National Day and this year they organized the Via Catalana (a huge human chain, from the French border until the other border within Spain, to claim their independence). I was there as well and on my other cheek I had Romania’s flag.

On September 11th, Catalonia celebrates its National Day and this year they organized the Via Catalana (a huge human chain, from the French border until the other border within Spain, to claim their independence). I was there as well and on my other cheek I had Romania’s flag.

Some weird habits of the locals…It was weird because in Romania we don’t do it: everybody says hello and goodbye when going in/out of the bus 🙂

My biggest cultural shock was…More than a cultural shock, it was a liberating conclusion: we (Romanians and Catalans) are quite similar when it comes to hobbies, leisure activities, way of being, values in life.

On Holy Friday, all the brotherhoods participate at the procession of Christ’s burial, passing through all the Old Quarter.

On Holy Friday, all the brotherhoods participate at the procession of Christ’s burial, passing through all the Old Quarter.

My funniest / weirdest / scariest experience was…Hearing so many Romanian words (pronounced almost the same and with the same meaning), before knowing that Catalan and Romanian have approx. 300 words in common. It’s shocking to hear Uite-l! and finding out it means the same, hahaha.

What I miss the most from home is…Family, friends and the places I treasure – the park next to my house, the old neighborhood, the market. And having someone cook you dinner or lunch…miss you, mom and dad 🙂

I go home as often as…As my budget allows me 🙂 Every 4 months or so.

I keep in contact with my friends and family…Email, WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype, postcards for Xmas, Martisor and my birthday…

My favorite dish/local food is…Fideuà with allioli sauce (thin noodles like vermicelli, with seafood and garlic sauce).

My favorite places in town are…Txalaka – a great tapas place, La Muralla – the preserved walls of the old citadel, that surround the city and offer stunning views, Parc Migdia – a beautiful park, where you can see baby ducks every spring and all the Old Quarter, with its narrow and secret streets…I always seem to find a new place every time I pass by.

I get around the city by…On foot and by car. It’s a small city and it’s easy to get around. Bicycles are very fashionable as well and the city is quite equipped for them.

Street fashion?…(Smart) casual; elder people tend to be very conservative and elegant, whilst teens and young people prefer comfortable and casual clothing.

My view on people: Honest and authentic persons. They may come across as cold and private, but once they decide you’re their friend, you become one of them and their house is always open for you. Very fierce persons, lovers of their nation and language, and natural born entrepreneurs. Oh! And Barça is truly a social phenomenon and it touches their soul – it’s a gut thing, as well as the Catalan identity, and it’s a privilege being able to observe it and see how much it can influence them.

Each May, the city organizes Girona – Time of Flowers, an exhibition where all the museums, streets and private courtyards are decorated with flowers.

Each May, the city organizes Girona – Time of Flowers, an exhibition where all the museums, streets and private courtyards are decorated with flowers.

Last year, one of the exhibited pieces was burnt a few days before the opening and the organizers decided to exploit this fact and left all the burnt pieces and put an excerpt from Salvador Espriu:  Wake up, it's a new day, the light of the rising sun, the old guide through the quiet ways of smoke. Don't leave anything to walk and to look to the west. For everything, in a moment, will be taken from you.

Last year, one of the exhibited pieces was burnt a few days before the opening and the organizers decided to exploit this fact and left all the burnt pieces and put an excerpt from Salvador Espriu:
Wake up, it’s a new day,
the light
of the rising sun, the old guide
through the quiet ways of smoke.
Don’t leave anything
to walk and to look to the west.
For everything, in a moment,
will be taken from you.

Being an expat… I think they are used to other cultures and nations, as the city is somehow a melting pot. Nevertheless, they do expect you to adapt to the local costumes. As for me, I’ve kind of always felt welcomed. I feel different only when I correctly pronounce in English names of singers, bands, famous people – both Spanish and Catalan tend to have a very thick accent when speaking English and they always translate everything. For example, U2 is u dos, reggae is riggy, etc 🙂 But for the rest, I’m one of them.

In 5 years, I see myself living in… I have no idea! I’ve stopped making plans years ago, so I’ll be living where life takes me…



Casandra Lungu

A Romanian girl, living in Girona (Catalonia) for almost 8 years now. Time flies by, doesn’t it? As I like to put it, Romanian born – Catalan adopted. I’d never planned to move here or to stay this long, but this experience taught me precisely to never make plans.

I arrived with an Erasmus scholarship, graduated here, found an internship, got a contract and started theatre classes. Basically, my life went from PR to acting and it was what I had always wanted to do. But, living from art exclusively is pretty complicated everywhere and Catalonia is no exception, so I am working in an events’ agency, trying to combine my schedule with all the plays, premieres and shows we have.

I’m living my Catalonian adventure to the fullest, I’ve grown to have my little Catalan family, as I call it (a mom, brothers and sisters, which I never had at home, friends and acquaintances) and I think that right now there’s no other place I’d rather be.

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Girona m’enamora! | Immoral beauty. "And when I don't feel it, it's pointless" (Sarah Kane)

  2. Pingback: Your favorite "New Comers" Stories from April | XpatGirls.com

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