¡Hola Madrid!

I’ve been here in Madrid since yesterday. I forced myself to stay awake until midnight and then slept until 11 today, so not too bad with the time adjustment.

I’ll write a little more later about the flight and my day yesterday. Right now I’m about to get ready to head to the mall with my sister and brother in law so I can get a few things I need.

I’ll update again soon!! ¡Saludos y abrazos!

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Packing Troubles.

So I decided that I would try to do away with the procrastinator in me and pack the majority of my things this weekend. I find that I am entirely overwhelmed when it comes to attempting to pack my life into 2 suitcases that may not go over 50 lbs. I am trying so hard not to over-pack, but it’s just not in my nature! I am also the type of person that goes through every single possible scenario, which is what leads to my over-packing.

I wrote the principal of my school asking her about the dress code that I am to abide by while I’m there. Once I get a response from her, that should help with my packing a bit. I also tried reading some other blogger’s posts regarding packing, but everyone has different advice! Some say to pack a winter coat from home and others say not to bother because you can just buy one in Spain. Some say to bring you winter clothes with you, while others say to try and have your family send you your winter clothes to save suitcase space. Others say to bring your good shoes while others say you can find great shoes in Spain. It would be a lot easier to follow people’s advice if there was somewhat of a consensus!

So, basically, I’m just going to pack as best as I see fit. I’m sure that once I’m in Spain for a few months, I will likely chastise myself for packing so much excess crap…but I guess I’ll just have to learn the hard way. At least packing for my 2nd year shouldn’t be too hard right? Anyone have some packing tips for me??

I feel like Jenna Marbles in her “How Girls Pack a Suitcase” video. She exaggerates a lot in the video, but it’s still pretty much how I feel trying to pack right now. I’ll leave the video here (**warning: Jenna Marbles curses quite a bit, so don’t watch if cursing bothers you**):

Opinions Please!!!!

Alright, so awhile back I mentioned that I was looking into being an au pair while I do BEDA so I can save some rent money and still have that sense of “family” while abroad. For the longest time I thought I wasn’t going to be able to find a family. I’d spoken to quite a few, but none of them could really accommodate my BEDA schedule (i.e. they wanted me in the mornings to help the kids get ready and walk them to school when I would already have to be leaving to get to my colegio).

Since nothing was working out, I started to look into apartments in the Moncloa area and kinda resigned myself to the fact that being an au pair was just not in the cards for me. Well, last week I began speaking with 2 families. One lives in right next to Majadahonda where my colegio is located. The other lives right in the center of Madrid. I have spoken with both families extensively and have skyped with both of them. I am utterly and completely torn as to which family to make a commitment to. Both families are extremely kind and very understanding regarding BEDA. Both know that I have classes on Friday evenings at Comillas and are perfectly okay with it. So, in the end, it’s a matter of preference of where I want to live. The problem is: How can I have a preference when I’ve never been to either of these places?

I have no idea if I would prefer to be in the outskirts of Madrid and closer to my colegio or if I would prefer city life and commuting to school. Does anyone know anything about either of these two areas and would like to offer some advice??? I’m all ears…

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!!

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?

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!

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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