Agatha knew full well it wasn’t going to be plain sailing. Since the very moment she made up her mind to leave her parents’ nest and headed for Spain, she had to come to terms with missing friends and family. On top of that, she hadn’t been abroad by herself and wasn’t sure how long it was going to take her to settle in. However, it was her long-held ambition, so she felt it was surely high time; in actual fact, she really had no other option.

Being an outsider can be exciting but, at the same time, hair-raising. Agatha arrived in Barcelona three years ago. It was a week before her seventeenth birthday, which she wouldn’t forget in ages.  When her mother gave her a ring and wished her happy birthday, Agatha couldn’t help but burst into tears; listless and a bit depressed, she told mum that, from the word go she was like a fish out of water.

Finding a part-time job was a priority. Agatha’s parents earned very little and she had to make both ends meet. At the end of the day, it was her decision and thus she, who shouldered the responsibility to earn a living. She had always a dab hand in the kitchen so she applied for a post to cover a vacancy in a downtown restaurant. She got the job but her boss promptly forced her to work till the small hours. His lack of empathy drove Agatha crazy. It was a dull job. Nothing out of the ordinary.

At the university, things didn’t seem to look much better. As if she was on another planet, Agatha’s uphill struggle to be liked among her classmates fell on deaf ears. Three months later, not only had she been the butt of their jokes, but also she hadn’t got a single invitation to hang out after class. She thought whether it seemed tantamount to bullying, but soon and luckily, she overcame such negativeness.

Sheila was a very popular girl at university. The typical Spanish candidate of a beauty contest, a gorgeous, brown-eyed brunette and unusually witty and razor-sharp minded. After racking her brain, Agatha realised that however hard she tried to be kind, it was hostility what she would find. Therefore, she made up a plan: to concentrate her efforts into getting in with Sheila. Perhaps that way she would finally be accepted by the rest of Sheila’s ilk. It’s no wonder that appearances can be deceptive.

Sheila turned out to be a marvellous person and Agatha, sooner than later, had to change her mind about the misfortunes that led her to try to turn her friendship into her advantage. They bonded
out of the blue, effortlessly. Spanish people are nice but it just so happens that you have to let your hair down and be yourself. Agatha just get off on the wrong foot when she firstly set foot in Barcelona. The situation had fortunately changed.

However, things are never easy. After amost two years of happiness, one night she met a boy in a disco. Pablo was a very attractive 35-year-old man. They had sexual encounters every now and again. Agatha was hooked on him. She started to miss classes and to lose contact with Sheila. That year she failed in her finals too. During the summer, Pablo’s attitude towards her metamorphosed. Maybe he had been feigning all the time. Pablo was a macho, so disrespectful and possessive a person that her self-esteem was notoriously undermined.

She fell into a deep depression and, predictably, Sheila was a kind shoulder to cry on. They headed out to Norway to visit Agatha’s parents. Two weeks later, back in Barcelona, Agatha began to come clean about her relationship with Pablo. She broke up and decided to move away from Gaudi’s city. Castellón was her next destination. She got a job in a small restaurant and signed up for a university degree on Translation and Interpretation. Sheila used to call her everyday but, unfortunately, all her past ghosts came back. A fish out of water again.

A week before her twentieth birthday she visited a psychologist following Sheila’s advice. Anxiety and an incipient depression had left her sleepless, tossing and turning all night long. The bleak prospect of her forthcoming birthday and the fact that she was going to pass it completely on her own was miserable. But, sometimes little things can have a dramatic effect on people’s fate.  Sheila’s call on the day before Agatha’s birthday was about to be one of those things.

She told Agatha that they were going to meet each other in Peñíscola to celebrate her birthday. Depite not being in the mood, Agatha gave up complaining about the idea and promised to do her best to be good company. That night wasn’t different, she didn’t sleep a wink. In the morning Agatha drove to Peñíscola, willing be dead.

It came as a complete surprise the spectacular party that her best friend had prepared. Not only was Sheila there, dressed-to-kill and lovely, but her parents, cousins, uncles and aunts, and to her utmost astonishment, some old Norwegian friends. She was lost for words, literally speechless. It was the beginning of an end. She soon got over her depression. After all, Spain had borne witness to Agatha’s coming-of-age, a difficult period that, more often than not, can be hard.