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madrid vs barcelona

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Joined: 23 Jul 2004
Posts: 1
Location: Calgary, Canada

PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2004 3:04 am    Post subject: madrid vs barcelona Reply with quote

Hi all!
I'm planning on quiting my job & moving to Spain in September to teach. I'm torn between Barcelona & Madrid. Anyone out there who has lived in both cities & has a preference? If so, why the preference?
Thanks for any info!
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Joined: 28 Apr 2004
Posts: 437

PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2004 6:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Both Barcelona and Madrid are great cities


-more opportunities for work
-better place to learn Spanish and be around Spanish culture
-great nightlife
-great public transportation
-great food


-arguably one of the most beautiful large cities in the world
-great nightlife
-great public transportation
-more cosmopolitan feel than Madrid
-great food
-close proximity to the beach

both cities are is difficult to choose between them but Madrid is better as far as work is concerned....but I'd rather live in Barcelona.

I hope this answers your question
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Joined: 17 Jun 2004
Posts: 14
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2004 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Being by the sea is a great plus for Barcelona. However, remember that the language of Barcelona is Catalan so you won't do that well if you're going to improve your Spanish.
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Jenny Thomas

Joined: 26 May 2004
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2004 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree 100% with Ellie, you can´t practice /learn Spanish in Barcelona. Well maybe but it will be a bit difficult! I was there very recently and even the TV programs are in Catalan! They really speak Castellano (Spanish) but it´s just this thing in Spain, there are some places like Catalunya province, Basque, Gallego, where you find they have their own dialect. They even say Pais Vasco (Basque Country). I guess that makes Spain even more interesting.

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Joined: 14 Oct 2003
Posts: 239
Location: Back in London

PostPosted: Mon Aug 09, 2004 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Everyone in Spain speaks Castellano (Spanish) but for various reasons, linguistic politics is a touchy subject. Having said that if you want to learn Catalan (also spoken in Valencia and the Baleares - though whether they are dialects or different languages is another touchy political point) or Gallego, they are very similar to Spanish and are not difficult to learn - Basque is a different case, but I don't think that it's as widely spoken as the other two.

I saw something interesting in the newspaper the other day... a Brazilian singer (Carlinhos Brown, I think) caused a storm because during his concert in Santiago de Compostela (Galicia, Spain) he talked to the audience in Spanish. After loads of protests he did the next concert, in Vigo (also Galicia, I think) in Portuguese. In places like Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque country you will often hear spain referred to as el estado español (or L'estat espanyol) - The Spanish State, recognising Spain only as a State and not a country....

But don't worry, if you're foreign people are a lot less reluctant to talk Spanish...

Bona sort!
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Maria Kirby

Joined: 26 May 2004
Posts: 56

PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2004 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It´s definitely Madrid for me! It´s a great city, friendly people and they don´t mind helping you out with your Spanish. The "intercambios" are really good if you want a fast way to learn the language without spending money.

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Joined: 06 Jul 2004
Posts: 81
Location: Barcelona, Spain

PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2004 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have lived in both Madrid and Barcelona -- and I love them both! I was initially in Barcelona for 2 years, then Madrid 1 1/2 years and then I moved back to Barcelona last October. There are some things that I like better about Barcelona and there are some things I like better about Madrid. Here is my take on a few aspects of life in both places:

TESOL Work -- Madrid is a lot bigger than BCN, so there are a lot more schools. For some reason, though, it seems that BCN is as popular a destination for English teachers as Madrid – if not more so. Consequently I see many more teachers in BCN working part time for two or three schools. That means that a full time schedule can take a few more weeks to build up to in BCN than in Madrid. I would guess that virtually all of the teachers in BCN would say it was worth any extra effort. If money is really tight, though, Madrid might be the better choice. After saying that I realized it is almost irrelevant because even if one were to get a full-time job right off the plane, it would take at least a month to get your first pay. If money is really tight, it would be best to stay where you are, save up a little and come on over to the city you really want with enough to get settled.

Spanish / Catalan -- Officially Barcelona is a bi-lingual city. I believe for about 70% of the population, Catalan is the native tongue. (In a city of over 1 million that leaves a good number who speak Spanish as a native tongue!) However, the locals are taught Spanish from the time they enter school, if not earlier, so adults and young people are all fluent in Spanish. As a result Barcelonans are really bilingual and go from one language to the other with no problem. Some local TV stations do broadcast primarily in Catalan -- TV3, 33 and BTV. Sometimes the movies broadcast on these Catalan stations are in Spanish, though. Keep in mind, however, that all of the national stations are broadcast in Spanish (TVE 1, TVE La 2, Antena 3, Telecinco, Canal+). One look at the local TV ratings and you will find that a lot of Catalans watch Spanish language TV. The major local newspapers are either only in Spanish (La Vanguardia) or publish Spanish and Catalan editions (El Periodico Red and El Periodico Blue). The Catalan only papers have small circulations. If you go to one of the Original Version movie houses, where films are shown in their original language with subtitles, the subtitles are in Spanish. I belong to the public library in Barcelona where books, tapes, videos, DVDs, etc. are available in both languages. Spanish/English intercambios are popular here -- as well as intercambios for lots of other languages -- Italian, French, German, Japanese as well as Catalan. There is a huge industry for teaching Spanish in Barcelona. Not only hundreds of private language academies but also local universities in Barcelona have Spanish courses that they promote, for example:

It is also possible to study Catalan, but there is not nearly as much of a choice of schools because the demand is not there. Catalan classes are offered free in at least one place, though:

Spanish / Catalan / English: Purely anecdotally speaking, it seems to me that more Barcelonans speak English and perhaps are keener to study English than Madrileños. That would be good news for English teachers! Public libraries in both cities have a few items in English, including text and grammar books. Both cities have great British Council libraries that are a godsend to expat English teachers. Additionally, each city has multiple local English language publications and bookstores.

Civic Pride: There's more to the competition between the two cities than language -- and stereotypes abound. Some Madrileños consider Barcelonans to be hard workers but rather closed and reserved. (This despite BCN’s numerous fiestas and exciting night life.) Some Barcelonans feel that Madrileños are friendly but do not have much of a sense of style, fashion, art or architecture. (This despite Madrid’s Paseo del Arte being lined with world class museums such as the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen.) And of course citizens in each city feel they have the best football club in the world! (No comment – I have friends in both places!)

La Playa: Maybe a Madrileño taxi driver put it best when he said to me, "Yes, Barcelona has the sea and its beaches. Well, I believe that's because God couldn't give Madrid beaches, as then it would truly be the perfect place -- and everyone knows perfection on earth is not possible." Ah, but the sea is very nice!

Whichever one you choose, I'm sure you'll find work and enjoy living in the city. They are both truly great places -- and they make great holiday getaways from the other!

Buena suerte,

Last edited by CharlesTESOL on Tue Aug 24, 2004 6:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Joined: 28 Apr 2004
Posts: 437

PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2004 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a brilliant posting by Charles!

You have summed it up quite nicely. From my experience I've found that more expats prefer Barca....but it's definitely easier to find work in Madrid.

It's really really difficult to choose between the two....Barcelona is one of a kind, there's really no other city like it.

I suppose you know which one I prefer....even though I have lived in Madrid and not Barcelona....

One thing about nightlife, the hangouts in Barcelona are a lot nicer looking, and more cosmopolitan. The gothic architecture in the barrio gotico is something marvelous....Barca is just magical, those of you who haven't been there yet absolutely must !!
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