Adina Levin, Senior Specialist at Aurora Medicine
Why did you choose Barcelona?
Barcelona chose me! It was in 2006: after spending a fantastic summer with a family from Argentona, I decided to study Catalan at university. In fact, I did this interview in Catalan. After that, whenever I visited Barcelona, I became increasingly aware of the complexity of the city and the way in which it continued to evolve. My curiosity about Catalan culture and language was well received by the Catalans, who were always appreciative and generous. And that made me feel I belonged. I finally made the decision to stay and become one more Barcelona citizen.
What aspects of the city would you highlight as positive?
When I decided to exchange the Big Apple for the capital of Catalonia, I got a lot of comments from people who said "Oh, I love Barcelona!" Obviously, its location between the sea and the mountains and its climate are ideal, and Barcelona has both an active, bustling side and an agreeable, more tranquil side. Most people in Barcelona know how to strike a balance between the two. I love being surrounded by people as I walk around the city... and that is still true now, even if I have to wear a mask!
Which aspects of the city would you like to improve? How?
Barcelona attracts a lot of people from all over the world, but most of them see the city as a place to spend their holidays, do an Erasmus program, or spend a couple of years working. They don't stay. They don't see living in Barcelona as a permanent commitment, either for work or life in general. I think we need to improve the city's image and consider what we can do to make it more appealing for international talent to stay.
What are the strengths that will help the city overcome the COVID-19 crisis?
Barcelona has been through many difficult times over the last 100 years—the Civil War, the post-war period, the 2008 crisis, the 2017 terrorist attack—and it has survived them all. I think we need to support each other and help those who have suffered most in the crisis. I trust in the city's ability to get through this, because I believe it has the tools and the determination to keep fighting.
What challenges do you think the city will face once the health emergency subsides?
According to Catalan government figures, industry and tourism represent a third of GDP in our region. The truth is it will be impossible to recover what we have lost during the last few months and we will have to be prudent and innovative in order to discover approaches that are compatible with the new situation when these sectors open again. The challenge will be to adapt and prepare thoroughly for future opportunities.
What do you expect from Barcelona in the coming years?
I try not to have too many expectations because there are so many external factors that can't be controlled. Who would have thought a year ago that we would be at the epicenter of a pandemic? I hope that Barcelona will continue to be both beautiful and appealing, and I hope my friends will want to continue living here. There also need to be more job opportunities, so that many more generations can start a family here and live happily ever after.
Which city do you consider to be your city? What do you miss most?
I didn't choose to be from Chicago, and although New York opened many doors for me, Barcelona is where I feel most at home. If they haven't visited me already, a lot of my American friends and family will be keen to do so post-covid. Except my grandfather, who is 92 years old and recently gave up travelling. It is his hugs and his special smell that I miss the most.