Owen's Barcelona adventure
Interview with Owen Angell, Lead & Senior Render Programmer at IO Interactive Barcelona, on his experience relocating to Barcelona and how he enjoys the city's outdoor lifestyle and multicultural atmosphere.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Owen Angell, Lead & Senior Render Programmer here at IO Interactive Barcelona. I’m from New Zealand, where I started my career in game development at a little company called Sidhe Interactive (now PikPok) in the capital city of Wellington. I always wanted to experience living in another country since in NZ we are so far away from the rest of the world. So I moved to England and stayed there for six years before ending up in Barcelona. I joined IO Interactive at the end of 2020, in my third year of living in Barcelona.
What got you interested in an opportunity in Barcelona?
The combination of a modern city surrounded by easily accessible outdoor landscape. Well, that and the weather! In the tropical Spanish climate, you can take advantage of the outdoors basically all year round.
Could you share some advice when relocating to Barcelona?
Relocating to a new place can be a streesful task, especially when the local language is not your first language. It can be frustrating to navigate through government offices and agencies that do not have proficient English speakers. However, with the help of someone who speaks the local language, the process of relocating can become much easier.
Luckily IOI provides valuable assistance to new employees who are relocating. IOI helps with everything from finding a new home, finding schools for kids to sorting government paperwork. This helps out tremendously when moving abroad!
How do you like Barcelona so far?
I like Barcelona a lot! It’s a good size where there is a variety of cultures and activities, but it’s not overwhelming. The city feels very open and welcoming. Much of life is centered around being outside, whether it's walking, playing sports, or catching up with friends at a table outside while enjoying a meal.
What are some cultural differences you have noticed living in Barcelona?
Everything happens later in general, the main one being the meals. You realize why when it gets to July and August because it gets hot, and you don’t want to eat dinner until the sun has gone down. In other ways I find the culture quite similar to mine, like how the people are outgoing and relaxed, they appreciate the outdoors, and there’s even some of the best coffee you can get in Europe.
How do you maintain your passions and hobbies?
I love music, and play a lot of guitar. I also enjoy the outdoors, going hiking or rock climbing or swimming at the beach. There’s nothing like a good coffee in the city on a Saturday morning, too. The city is so close to great beaches, and places for hiking and rock climbing that is super easy to do a day trip for any of those activities. I have a motorbike to quickly get out of the city and there are great roads nearby to enjoy riding. It is a very multicultural city and has everything I was used to from other European cities, including good coffee and live music.
Describe a weekend in your life
It could start with catching up with friends outside in a square in the Gracia neighborhood. I often start my Saturday by walking or skateboarding to my favorite café to grab a coffee and have brunch with my fiancé. Then we might take the motorbike out to a town a couple of hours away to go hiking or to a beach up the coast. Otherwise, we might just go walking or cycling to somewhere in the city, like the beach, or a neighborhood with some local shops and nice restaurants. There’s usually time for a trip to the climbing wall as well.
How are you making friends? Do you have any tips for new expats moving to Barcelona?
We have a great vibe in the BCN studio, with many people organizing activities after work and having regular group lunches. I would encourage people to search for events in the city related to their interests. For example, going to an indoor climbing gym and starting conversations with people doing similar climbs, starting language classes, or joining groups that play sports. In general, people are friendly and outgoing so there are lots of opportunities.