Freelance heaven: a winter retreat in Barcelona.


image: Saskia Huizinga

Saskia knows a cheap place to update her portfolio: the public library of Barcelona.
Last December she took a Megabus from France to spend a month working in the warm, beautiful, friendly home town of Gaudi. She settled into an eight Euro hostel in the hipster Gracia area, signed up for a course of Spanish and entered the main library near the Ramblas. The lady behind the counter did not want to give her a pass as she was only going to stay a short while, but when she told the next librarian that she was here for three months and gave an address, she was ready to go.

It was surprisingly easy to settle in. During the day she could ride the free wifi and at night she could enjoy the company of city dwellers of all kinds and ages. People flocked the streets and spend hours of chatting and eating and enjoying the good life.

The dilemma: North versus South.
If there were enough jobs in her field she would have loved to stay a whole lot longer. But as an architect and urban planner she went back North to look for work. It is a dilemma widely felt amongst educated Europeans: living comfortably in the South but without the money to sustain themselves, or to work in the West and North of Europe where the life can be stressful and people have little time for each other.

Will there be a future in which digital communication is integrated in such a way that even in local projects physical distance is no longer a problem? Maybe, but right now that is not yet a reality. In Saskia’s case the jury is out. She hasn’t decided yet what kind of life she chooses to live.

In the meantime she spends her days in public areas making up plans for bottom up urban planning. Her flat is rented out to pay the mortgage so there is no rush. Right now she spends her nights couch surfing, staying with family and friends and taking buses to lovely cities to update her portfolio and to send out her CV. We both are thrilled by all the possibilities this age gives us, even in such uncertain times. Lets gather more of these stories so we can extend our horizon and increase our options, even during crises!

Leave a Reply