What is life like as an IESE partner? In this post, we chat with Matthew Boyden who moved with his wife, Laura Napoli (Class of 2020) to Barcelona.
Hi Matthew, tell us a little bit about your background?
I’m from the US and met my wife, Laura, during our undergrad. I worked in insurance for several years before switching to a tech/software company.
How was your adjustment to Spain?
We arrived in June, a few months before Laura’s classes started. We spent the summer exploring the city and getting used to the heat! We ended up falling in love with the Gracia neighborhood and found a nice apartment there. If you’re staying in an apartment with no air conditioning, I highly recommend buying a portable unit.
My hardest adjustments were with learning Spanish and meeting new people. After the “honeymoon” phase wore off and Laura began school, I felt lonely and realized I needed to be more intentional about meeting new people. I joined a Spanish class and a gym, and met some friends who also work remotely, and these me helped a lot.
What do you like best about your time in Barcelona?
This is a tough question to answer!
This is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited. It’s a crowded city but the public transportation is very efficient and there is not heavy traffic like we have in many cities in the US. Restaurants are relatively cheap compared to other cities, and the food is very good. Bars also are very affordable 🙂 Barcelona is also a good travel hub- there are trains to many great places in Spain, and budget airlines make travel within Europe very affordable.
Honestly, I’ve lived in many cities, but Barcelona is probably my favorite. I’m going to miss it!
What are the challenges of being an IESE partner?
I work full-time for a remote company, so initially it was difficult for me to meet people. The partners club is active and offers many activities (lunches, movies, outings, etc) but I often couldn’t make them because they happened during the workday.
The students make friends much faster because they spend all day together. I remember being jealous of how many friends my wife had so quickly, while I still felt like a stranger. But after a few months, I came to call her classmates my friends, too! It just took longer, so be patient with yourself 🙂
What has been your interaction with the IESE community?
With my wife, I try to attend the social events that the student clubs offer (like Diwali night, Chinese New Year dinner, etc.). They are fun and a great way to meet new people and grow friendships!
As a male partner during my first year, many people would assume I was a student and ask me “What section are you in?” but as a second-year partner this doesn’t happen as much now that more people know me.
What are your plans for the future?
That is a good question – we’re not sure what our next steps are. I’m fortunate enough that my job lets me work from anywhere, so it will depend on where my wife’s job is after her graduation. We’d love to stay in Barcelona, but we’ll see!
What were your concerns before moving to Barcelona and how did you deal with them?
Moving to Spain was initially my idea, so I really didn’t have any concerns. My main obstacle was learning Spanish. I can get by with my Spanish now, after a year here, but I want to continue to improve!
Do you have any advice for future IESE partners?
Get out of your comfort zone early enough so that you start to build up your new social network in Barcelona.
Thanks for sharing, Matthew!
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