Today, I headed for the beach. It was morning, still early for the beach volley game I signed up for, so I walked a little further and sat down by the water. It’s something I don’t do as often in the colder months of the year. Feet in the sand, I couldn't help but realize this deep connection I have towards the sea. Being here, doing things I love, brings me incredible joy and an incredible sense of fulfillment. It reminds me that every challenge I've faced to be here (and still do) has been worth it. Being alive is worth it.

During my two years here in Barcelona, I've had countless moments like this, unlike any I've experienced elsewhere. While I've lived in places like New York, California, Tuscany, and São Paulo, it's here where I feel the most free, the most myself. This city truly captivated me and it has everything to do with the sea. In California, I lived in San Diego, where I also had easy access to the beach. I would literally leave my place barefoot, go to the sand and watch the sunset then come back. I loved it deeply. But it's different here. The lifestyle, and how much people also like being at the beach, even in winter, be it for a stroll, practice different sports, or even a cold bath. It’s about enjoying life fully.

I've lost track of how many times I've taken a dip in the water after a beach volleyball session (or even during, to freshen up), feeling an overwhelming sense of happiness washing over me. Gazing directly at the sun, with an inevitable smile on my face, I start feeling incredibly lucky. While my job setup allows me the flexibility for these moments, many others in Barcelona cherish these experiences too, because they value that, and it’s magical.

I feel this deep connection with the sea, the sand, the ocean, but I'm not sure how it began. Despite Brazil boasting 4,600 kilometers of coastline along the Atlantic waters, I didn't grow up particularly close to it, and neither did my parents or close family. However, I've always had a fondness for it, especially for the sunbathing part, a trait I inherited from my mom, who, oddly, never cared much for the sand before, while she now enjoys a good beach day.

I vividly recall my time in the US during my exchange program in 2015. My 21 years old version was still discovering herself and embracing the freedom to be whoever she wanted to be. The love I have for the sea goes way back, but reflecting about it, it was during this period that this love for the beach deepened, and being by the sea brought me immense happiness. Whenever I felt down or homesick, grappling with the challenges of living abroad, the beach served as my sanctuary—a place where I could reconnect with a sense of home within myself. It quickly became my favorite and happiest place.

Others noticed this connection before I did. Friends would take me to the beach when I was feeling down, and those back home in Brazil would find comfort in seeing me happy by the sea on social media.

Take my partner, for example. I met him 3 months after I moved to Barcelona, and he noticed and pointed out this connection right away. As I live in an apartment a bit farther from the city center that offers a clear view of the sea, I used to wake up at sunrise every morning and drag him to the window so he could see it too. He didn’t really get it in the beginning, but after a few months, despite growing up surrounded by lakes and mountains made him more captivated by those green and pristine blue colors, he too began to appreciate its charm. I love how nature had this contagious effect, gradually drawing him in.

He came to understand how much the sea meant to me, bringing happiness and tranquility, how integral it was to my identity, of who I am. He pointed out something I knew deep down, but hadn't realized others could perceive so clearly.

Being a writer, he found inspiration in my love for the sea and our shared moments watching multiple sunrises. One afternoon, he drafted a poem that resonated deeply with me, capturing the essence of these moments. I'll share it at the end for those curious or fond of poetry.

Intrigued by the sea's impact on me, I did some research and found numerous studies highlighting its benefits. Coastal living has been linked to reduced stress, improved mood, and better sleep quality, impacting both physical and mental health.

In fact, you don’t even have to get your feet wet to feel the benefits of living by the sea.

Just looking at the sea can have a profound effect, inducing a sense of awe that puts life's worries into perspective. This awe-inspiring view alone can uplift mood and lower heart rate. Moreover, the rhythmic sound of the waves has a soothing effect, further enhancing feelings of calmness.

To my surprise, studies have also shown that individuals who have a sea view from their homes report even greater levels of well-being compared to those who live near the coast but lack a direct view of the sea. This scientific validation reinforces the deep connection many of us feel to the sea, extending beyond mere health benefits to encompass a sense of profound fulfillment.

All this made a lot of sense to me, because I experience this everyday. It’s incredible how it changes my mood and it helps with some occasional feelings of anxiety. Knowing all this made me feel even luckier, and also helped putting into perspective day-to-day small problems.

Today, I feel extremely privileged to wake up to the sight of the sea, soak it in from my balcony, to live in a city like Barcelona, where everyday could turn into a beach day. But also the laid-back vibe, the people, the 300+ sunny days a year. It's a lifestyle I've always yearned for, one that brings me unparalleled joy and contentment.

The sea is my safe place and my refuge. Whether I seek happiness, solitude, a moment of reflection, or to just be, it’s where I find the roots of myself, of who I am. Where I feel most at home.

And now, the little spontaneous poem, as promised:

Every morning

She rises with the sun

Her face dipped

In a gilded red light.

She breathes, inhales

Vapourized sea.

All mist and smiles


Her body falls


Into a cloud of blankets

Wind caressing walls

A few more rounds

On the ticking clock

Eyes closed

Opens her mind

Let’s in

What’s divine

But earthy

Ought to ask

Who’s she?


Full stop.