Visa Update.

Okay, so it seems that there needs to be come clarification regarding my last post. I saw that someone commented on facebook that they were surprised that my post mentioned getting the medical certificate notarized and with the Apostille of the Hague. I can assure I did not just make that requirement up. First, each consulate has different requirements. Some mention having the medical certificate notarized while others do not. I was sent an email directly from the DC Embassy of Spain last month with a list of everything I needed in order to get my visa. This is what I received:

REQUIREMENTS FOR A STUDENT VISA

  1. Personal appearance is required in order to submit documentation. Students or Parents. Students must appear in person at least once, either to apply or to pick it up.
  1. 1 National Visa Application form filled out and signed.
  1. Passport. The passpot must be valid for at least six months with at least one blank page to affix the visa. If you are not a US citizen you must show proof of legal residency in the US (Green Card or proper visa) B1/B2 holders do not qualify to apply for a visa in this Consulate Office.
  1. 1 recent passport photo size with a white background.
  1. Original Letter of Acceptance and 1 copy from the University or school addressed to this Consulate General verifying enrolment as a full time student in an official university or school in Spain. THIS LETTER MUST ALSO state that the student has medical insurance coverage while the student is in Spain.  If there is no insurance information on this letter, the student will need a letter from their insurance company verifying that he/she is covered internationally. We do not accept insurance cards.

 

  1. Proof of Financial Means during your stay: please provide one of the following:

 

  • Letter from the University or School in Spain or in the USA assuming full financial responsibility during your stay (this is often included into the acceptance letter).
  • Proof of financial aid or scholarship for a minimum of $1,000.00 per month for tuition, room, board and personal expenses.
  • If financial responsibility is not assumed by the program, notarized letter from your parents or legal guardians assuming full financial responsibility for at least $1,000.00 per month for the student expenses.

 

  1. Self-addressed and Pre-Paid US “Express-Mail” envelope from the Post Office if you wish to have your passport returned by mail. We do NOT accept any other type of courier or messenger service. Tracking of mailed items is the sole responsibility of the applicant. However, this will only be accepted if the applicant comes in person to apply.
  1. We will only accept complete applications. YOU MUST bring the ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS and ONE COPY of each requirement including copy of your passport, where the picture is and your personal information.
  1. FEES- CASH OR MONEY ORDER WE DO NOT ACCEPT PERSONAL CHECKS OR CREDIT CARDS.           US citizens- $140.00 non-refundable

NON US citizens — $81.00 non-refundable

For those students staying more than 6 months, please provide the following:

  1. Police Record (Criminal Background) original and 1 copy issued by either a, State police or Federal police (FBI) where the student has lived for the past year. This document must be notarized with the Hague Apostille.
  1. Medical Certificate original and 1 copy: Doctor´s statement on a doctor or medical letterhead, indicating that the student has been examined and found in good physical and mental health to travel abroad and he/she is free of contagious diseases and drug addiction. This document must be signed by the doctor. This document must be notarized with the Hague Apostille.

The visa process could take up to six weeks therefore plan your application in advance. You may apply up to 90 days before your departure date. If you apply less than six weeks before your travel date keep in mind that your visa may not be ready on time and you may have to rearrange your departure.  

As you can see, it clearly states on there that the medical certificate needs to be notarized with the Apostille of the Hague. I should mention, however, that I have been told by 2 people who called the DC Embassy that they were told that it is no longer necessary. I preferred to be safe than sorry, however, and ended up getting the medical certificate notarized with the Apostille of the Hague. Oh and also, the fee is no longer $140, but $160 to file for your visa.

Anyway, I went today to file my visa and all went smoothly. I was in and out in less than 10 minutes and was told my visa should arrive in 5 weeks.

The joy that will consume me when I have my Spain visa in my hand will be unreal. Here’s to the next 5 weeks flying by!!

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Visa Process Woes.

I had heard from a lot of people who have already gone through the whole process of applying to something like auxiliares, being accepted, and then going about getting the student visa that the visa aspect was, by far, the hardest and most frustrating part. I am starting to see where they were coming from.

So, I went to go about getting my medical certificate notarized today. It was such a pain in the arse. So on a lot of the auxiliares forums and facebook pages, everyone mentioned that they went to the bank in order to get their things notarized. Well, seeing as how a notary is certifying that the signature on the document is ACTUALLY that person’s signature, it’s kinda hard to do that with a medical certificate when you aren’t the doctor! NO ONE had mentioned this on any of the forums…until now. Now, I have heard that in order to get around that aspect, what you should do is sign the medical certificate next to the signature of your doctor and have the notary certify your signature. Apparently, that should be enough in order to get the Apostille of the Hague. This information came from a girl who did this last year in order to get her student visa for auxiliares de conversación. So, this is what I ended up doing.

I have also emailed my consulate with a scanned copy of the certificate to verify with them that it’s okay. I’m hoping they answer me at some point tomorrow. I’d really like to know that my certificate is fine as is before going to the consulate next week to file for my visa and then be rejected. That would be a MAJOR bummer. I shall definitely post on here what they tell me so as to, hopefully, save some of you the hassle.

I wouldn’t be so stressed about this whole thing if it weren’t for the fact that I leave for Puerto Rico on the 26th of this month and won’t be coming back until mid-July. So that kinda puts me in a time constraint in terms of getting my visa filed. Pretty much, Monday the 26th is my absolute last chance of filing it and I’d really rather go a little before that in case something is wrong, I have time to deal with it before I leave.

So, basically, to sum everything up: The visa process is, by far, the worst aspect of this auxiliares application stuff. Granted, I’m sure I’ll be saying the same thing once I get to Spain and begin the wondrous task of filing for my NIE…

Have any of you already gone about the medical certificate aspect of the visa process? How did you go about getting it notarized?

Carta Oficial.

I received my official letter from BEDA today! Now I’m just waiting for my doctor to send me my medical certificate so that I can get that notarized and then I’m ready to go to D.C. to file for my visa. Now that it’s all coming together, it’s really starting to hit me that me moving to Spain is actually happening.

In other news, I was searching through the Auxiliares in Madrid facebook group and a girl asked about apartments in Majadahonda. A current auxiliar told her that if she was looking for apartments there just because that’s where her school is, that she should reconsider and live in the city because it’s less than an hour to get there by bus/train. This was great news to me since I wasn’t too thrilled at the idea of living in Majadahonda. I definitely would prefer to live in the city. I did some research and if I live in the Moncloa district of Spain, then my commute would only be around 40 minutes, which isn’t too shabby. I really like the Ciudad Universitaria area of Moncloa. It would be perfect since the commute to my school would be 40 min and then my commute to Comillas for my course would be about 10 minutes!

I’m hoping we get all our information regarding the Comillas University course soon. I’d really like to know what day/time class is, plus I’m hoping some of the other BEDA applicants that I’ve talked to online are in my class 🙂

Another thing that I’m itching to know is what age group I’ll be working with. The BEDA coordinator mentioned in an email that she would gives us our school’s contact information, but we still haven’t gotten it. I’m thinking of making a call to the school to see if they can tell me the name of the person who is in charge of the auxiliares at my school so that I can ask them if they have an idea of what grade I’ll be working with. I’ll definitely post on here once I know anything.

As you can see, I’m having issues with my goal of embracing the Spaniard mentality of going with the flow…the inner planner in me just can’t adjust to such a way of thinking! I promise I’m trying to loosen in up in that regard, but it’s definitely going to take me some time…

 

Learning to Think Like a Spaniard.

Well, this morning got off to a bit of a rough start for me. I woke up around 8 to an email from the BEDA coordinator. I assumed that it was the official acceptance letter with all the details regarding my school and health insurance…I was wrong. It was an email informing me that the school they assigned me to had made an error and only wanted 2 auxiliares instead of 4, so they were switching me to another school in another town. My original school was in Alcalá de Henares, my new school is in Majadahonda. When I first read the email, my initial reaction was along the lines of this:

After a few seconds, however, I was grateful for the fact that I was still in the program. Plus, they did assign me the same amount of hours. So many people would kill to be in my position of even having a placement. I then started to think about how laid back most people are in Spain and how they really just try to roll with the punches. They are definitely of the mindset that if you have no control over it, why worry about it…En fin, es lo que hay. I’m going to embrace that mentality as much as possible. Something tells me that most things aren’t going to go according to plan when it comes to Spain…

Auxiliares de Conversación Placements.

Auxiliares started placing first years on Friday. It’s been so great to see where everyone is getting placed. A lot of the people I talk to on expat and facebook got placed in Madrid so I’m very excited that we’ll be close enough that we can hop on the metro for a short ride if we all want to try and arrange a get together 🙂

I will say that it’s going to be very strange to hit the decline button once my placement from them rolls around. I’m so curious to see where I could have ended up in Spain had BEDA not worked out.

 

EDIT: I would have been in Castilla y León had I done the Ministry program.

All My Madrid Details.

I promised a longer post with more details, so here it is.

Yesterday, I received this email from the BEDA coordinator:

I am very pleased to inform you that you that you have been selected to take part as a Language & Culture Assistant in the BEDA Program with Escuelas Católicas Madrid and Universidad de Comillas in 2012/2013. Congratulations!

Further information will be communicated to you by email next week with dates for the course in September and details of your school and the hours.

Well, the next week part of the email turned out to mean the next day…I received another email this morning with my school information and the number of hours a week I’ll be working. I was assigned the maximum amount of hours (24) which makes me very happy because that means I get the maximum amount of pay (1040€)! My school is located in the city of Alcalá de Henares in the Madrid community. I looked up some of the things in the city and saw this:

Isn’t it beautiful?!

That is the Plaza de Cervantes in Alcalá de Henares. It’s only a few minutes from my school. Guess I know where I’ll be spending all my free time when it’s nice out!

Now I really need to get cracking on all my visa paperwork. The email they sent us stated that we must be in Spain by September 12th so that gives me a a few months to get everything in order. Then I have to think about all the oh so joyous things like apartment hunting, setting up a bank account, getting my NIE, and a phone. Fun times ahead.

IT’S OFFICIAL!!!

I received my acceptance e-mail from BEDA this morning!!! ¡ADIOS MARYLAND, HOLA MADRID!

This was me when I got the email:

Really, though. I started running around the kitchen like a crazy person while doing my happy dance.

I’ll post a longer, more descriptive post later!!!!!!

Little Pieces of “Home”

As placement looms closer, I’ve been thinking a lot about my new life in Spain. The main thing that I know will be truly difficult for me is how much I’m going to miss my family, my adorable chihuahua, my friends, and little things that make me think of “home.”

In order to address that last one, I’ve been thinking of things in Spain that could make me feel like I’m more at home. The first thing is the language. I’ve grown up in a household that speaks both English and Spanish so I am use to hearing Spanish every single day. In that aspect I think I have a bit of an advantage compared to others. I can speak and comprehend Spanish plus I’m use to hearing it all the time. That’s a comforting thought.

Next is the cuisine. That is another thing that I don’t think I’ll have too hard of a time adjusting to. I eat Spanish cuisine much more often than I eat American dishes. My favorite thing in the world is arroz con fricase de pollo. I shouldn’t have too hard of a time finding dishes I’ll love in Spain.

I’ll miss some of my American TV shows, but that’s easily resolved with the internet. Plus, I like Spanish shows. I watched all of Yo Soy Bea while it was airing and I currently watch Los Protegidos.

Recently, I was looking up pictures of various locations in Spain that I want to visit while I’m there. There were two places that really hit me when I saw them. The first was a picture of a street in Gran Canaria.

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Gran Canaria

When I first saw it, I didn’t believe it was in Spain because it looks just like El Viejo San Juan in Puerto Rico:

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Viejo San Juan

Then, I saw a picture of Castillo de San Antón and it also looks just like a spot in el Viejo San Juan around El Paseo de la Princesa.

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Castillo de San Antón

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Paseo de la Princesa in el Viejo San Juan ;

When I saw these pictures, I knew I would be okay because those are at least two places in Spain that I can think of as “home.” They are so similar to Puerto Rico, which isn’t surprising given the amount of cultura y herencia that Puerto Rico inherited from Spain.

In terms of missing my family, pup, and friends…well, that’s what skype, facebook, and phones are for. And if all else fails, I’m sure they could visit me at some point.

Anyway, I’m hoping that in the next week or two I’ll have news regarding placement. ¡Hablamos Luego!

This is the background on my macbook right now…

I know I said I’m trying to distract myself from placements and all that jazz…but it’s always nice to remind yourself of what you’re striving for.

Keeping Busy.

In order to try and distract myself from placements, I have been attempting to get everything ready so that I can get a move on with my visa once I get my school placement. I knew the visa process would be daunting, but it’s exceeding my expectations. I have my appointment for my medical certificate next month along with my appointment at an agency to get my fingerprints done for my background check. I opted to do the state BGC since the FBI one is no longer mandatory and the state one is a heck of a lot easier to get and takes less time. Once I have those ready, I already know what I need to do to get both notarized and with the Apostille of the Hague. My oldest sister’s coworker is a notary, so that takes care of the notarizing aspect. And thankfully, my father has a friend who works in the state department so she’s going to take the papers there for me to get the Apostille of the Hague.

I’m just hoping I get my school placement early in June so that I can start the visa process before I leave for vacation with my family to Puerto Rico. We normally go for about 3 weeks, which means I wouldn’t get back until mid-July and I’d really like to not have to start the visa process so late.

I’ve also started reading some history books I got about Spain. I would like to know more of the country’s history before getting there in August/September. And on top of those books, I got some others that discuss each region and places to visit in each one. I always like to have a general idea of where I want to visit before going somewhere. I’m very much a planner, so any information I can get my hands on early on will be great for me. Although, I am going to try and let go of my planning self, and be a little more spontaneous once I get to Spain. I have a feeling most things in Spain won’t go according to plan so I better start adjusting to living life by going with the flow of things…tendre que aprender a ir donde me lleve la corriente.

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