When Ironhack, a global tech school who run bootcamps, and Hemper launched the hackathon “The Algorithm is Female” in Nepal and select a high-potential candidate to study their Web Development bootcamp at the campus in Barcelona, Neha Khachhibhoya was successful in being selected to participate after having passed an interview phase, technical questions and subsequently winning the hackathon. Spotahome, a digital rentals platform that allows you to virtually visit and rent a property from anywhere in the world, partnered with Ironhack and Hemper to sponsor Neha’s new home and offer her a seamless transition into her life in Barcelona.

Neha Khachhibhoya travelled from Banepa, Nepal to Barcelona, Spain

Neha comes from the city of Banepa, which is close to the capital of Kathmandu and considered quite developed compared to other, more rural parts of Nepal. She lives in a house with her family and has all the basics like electricity and hot water, but Neha says the country in general is not very developed, the roads, she says, are “not that good”, nor is transportation and the streets are not organised with street numbers or town planning, like they are in Europe.

She considers herself lucky to have had access to education as a girl “In rural parts of Nepal, there is still a belief that only boys need an education”, she says. What many in Western countries might consider a right, Neha considers a privilege, including being able to have studied a Bachelors of Engineering. A self-professed lover of science, Neha would have liked to become a physicist but she’s very practical in her approach and considered the scope her career could take in Nepal, which led her to her course of study and to fall in love with technology. Her younger brother had already started to study programming, and he encouraged her to look into up. She also consulted with her teachers who told her that physics enthusiasts should look into electronics engineering, giving her a a perfe3ct mix of robotics and programming.

1. How did you find out about the Hackathon and how did you prepare for it?

Most of my friends are involved in tech, and I saw them talking about the Hackathon and sharing it on Facebook. I didn't know about the Ironhack sponsorship before the Hackathon, and at the end of the Hackathon when the top five entrants were selected for an interview by the Ironhack team, I didn't have much time to prepare so I relied on the previous technical knowledge I had.

2. How did you prepare for your move to Barcelona?

Immediately after I was announced the winner of the Hackathon, like anyone else I started to search online and couldn’t wait to explore my new home. As much as I love tech, I also love art and Barcelona, as I found out, is like a paradise for artists.

I came here prepared for winter and I wouldn’t have imagined staying here so long. I really wish I’d packed some summer clothes! I brought a few things to remind me of Nepal and of course my parents packed me some snacks. If I were to do it over again, I would have brought a bigger suitcase! I also miss Nepalese food and my mother’s cooking, so I would bring more Nepalese snacks.

I should have researched and read more about the history of the city so that I could totally experience it as well.

3. What was your first thought when you arrived in the city?

It was raining and I thought “I don’t have an umbrella!”. You can not really compare it to the lifestyle in Nepal. Over here, everything is perfect. I’ve seen a drone-eye view of Barcelona and every is beautiful, the city planning is very well done. It’s much more developed, much more organised. In Nepal, apartments are not that common even though there is a trend towards them in Kathmandu.

The transportation is really smooth and you wouldn’t expect to see the same thing in Nepal. Everything about Barcelona is completely different. I’ve seen all these buildings and architecture which I’d previously only seen in the movies.

4. What was the biggest challenge in settling into your new home?

I don’t think that I faced any problems, everything I needed was already there. The only thing that was required was to unpack my suitcase.

The language barrier is definitely very difficult - I expected more people to be able to speak English. It was hard, when I went to restaurants and stores people couldn’t understand me.

5. What was the biggest culture shock for you?

Spanish people really do like their beers, and every Friday Ironhack provided free beers. I don’t really drink so it was difficult for me to fit in at first, everyone would be having the best time and I was there with a glass of water. One of my cohorts was so nice that she offered to bring me orange juice every Friday, that was really good.

The other thing is meal times - it’s really different from Nepal. And definitely the two-cheek kiss. It was expected, because I’ve seen it a lot in movies, but when I was greeting people I’d just met for the first time with a kiss it felt awkward for me.

Also the fact that grocery stores are closed on Sundays. In Nepal, Sunday is a normal working day and we only have Saturday as a weekend (!).

Neha enjoying Barcelona's nightlife

6. What is the thing you like most about Spanish people?

People here really know how to get the most out of their days, you work hard on weekdays and you party hard on weekends. Spaniards are very artistic and good at thinking out of the box. In my bootcamp, my cohort had lots of innovative ideas, and you can also see the artistic flair in all the buildings and graffiti around the city.

They’re really friendly and it was easy to fit in at Ironhack. Spaniards are cheerful, hospitable and helpful. They have a really strong community spirit, and the crisis has shown me that even more.

How supportive and helpful they are would be the thing I like the most though - I had an experience where my bag was stolen and it had my phone and my laptop in it. It was completely unexpected but my cohort helped me out - one of the team, even gave me a spare laptop that she had. It was amazing how much they were willing to help me.

Neha with her Ironhack cohort

7. You have been stuck in Spain during the COVID-19 crisis. How has this impacted your overall experience?

I had plans to roam and explore the city after the bootcamp finished, but then the lockdown started immediately. However my time in lockdown has led me to realise that life is uncertain and it’s up to you to make something of it. I’ve spent my time trying to learn about new web frameworks and concepts.

8. What is the one thing you will miss the most from Barcelona when you go back to Nepal?

I will miss everything about Barcelona! The streets, the architecture, the lifestyle, the people. I’m also going to miss the weather a lot - Barcelona has perfect temperatures. When I left Nepal it was freezing cold and now it’s really hot there, but the winter here is not really cold and now it’s not too hot, not too cold. Barcelona is really a paradise.

9. What was the experience of moving with Spotahome like?

In Nepal when you rent an apartment, you have to buy every single piece of equipment that you’ll require. With Spotahome, I didn’t have to think about any of that, there were even bed sheets supplied. It was basically like moving into your own home.  

When I moved in there were four other people living in the home and it was nice to get to know them because they were also students - one was from Germany and another was from the Netherlands, which meant I got to meet people from different countries right away. I was spending the days at the bootcamp so I didn’t get to spend as much time as I’d have liked getting to know them.

10. Would you recommend moving with Spotahome to your friends and family?

Yes definitely. In fact, I already have recommended Spotahome to a friend who is planning to study in Germany. Spotahome ensures that everything in the apartment that you’re renting is organised ahead of time.

Whether you’re working or studying (or planning on attending a bootcamp), Spotahome can help you move seamlessly into your new home, just like Neha did. Search now across major cities in Europe.

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