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?

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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.

CIEE and BEDA.

CIEE and BEDA are 2 programs that a EXTREMELY similar to auxiliares de conversación. I have provided the links to both programs so you can inform yourself at your leisure.

I almost applied to CIEE and even started the application process. However, I decided that CIEE is not really the program for me since it costs quite an amount of money. I can’t really afford a program that costs over $1500. For others, though, this may be a good option. Also, CIEE is very involved in helping you get settled in Spain, so this is definitely a good program for someone who would like to feel like they are going to have their hand  held along the way. I should also mention that the majority of the placements in CIEE are in Andalucia, Spain.

BEDA is extremely similar to auxiliares, except that instead of public schools, BEDA works with catholic schools in Spain. The majority of the placements are in Madrid with a few in other locations like Castilla y León. Another aspect to BEDA is that you take a course at a university in Spain to help you with the teaching aspect of your job and to help you learn about Spain and Spanish.

The application process for CIEE and BEDA differ quite a bit. The CIEE application is all online. It’s fairly straightforward and has similar requirements to the auxiliar one (recommendation letters, copy of passport, copy of transcripts, etc.). There is also an application fee (last I checked it was $50 but it could always change so make sure to check when you apply).

For BEDA you send in a cover letter and resume (with a picture) to the coordinator. This past year, the coordinator was Samantha Dwyer. I don’t know if she’ll be the coordinator again next year so I don’t want to put her information down. Just check the link I posted with the BEDA site for all the details you need regarding where to send your application. After you send your application and it is received, you will be contacted about setting up a skype interview. Don’t stress about the interview. Mine was only about 10 minutes or so and Samantha was extremely kind and helpful and was willing to answer all of my questions. I would recommend writing down any questions or concerns you have beforehand so you can ask them during your interview.

Much like auxiliares, BEDA and CIEE also provide health insurance along with the stipend. Both programs also have orientation. CIEE will provide you with accommodation for the first 5 nights at your local school town and they will also arrange for a ride when you arrive at the airport. As I mentioned before, CIEE does provide a LOT of help, but it comes with a price (the cheapest program is around $1200 but it is for people who are well-versed in Spanish and have experience in Spain. The other programs for beginners start at about $2300).

I mentioned earlier that I chose not to apply to CIEE after seeing the cost. I just felt auxiliares and BEDA provide the same opportunity for no price at all so I didn’t see why I should have to pay for CIEE.

Currently, I am waiting to hear from BEDA regarding whether I will be accepted to the program and where I would be placed. I should be hearing in the first week of May…so soon! Auxiliares is likely to send out placements in mid-late May. This is good because if I hear from BEDA first and find that I have been accepted, I will likely agree to make the commitment to BEDA. I just think BEDA is more suitable to me, though if it does not work out, I am definitely accepting wherever auxiliares puts me. Another reason I want to hear from BEDA first is because auxiliares only gives you 7 days to accept or decline your placement, and I would hate to have to accept without knowing anything from BEDA yet. The main reason I would want BEDA is because it gives me the greatest chance of being in Madrid. If I end up being placed elsewhere (unless it’s Castilla y León since that is my other preference region), I may decide to decline and just accept my placement in auxiliares (wherever that may end up being).

¡Hablamos luego!

You Know How I Mentioned the Importance of Patience in the Application Process…

I’m having a really hard time with it. I was doing great until it was confirmed that placements for first time applicants wouldn’t be happening until May. I had the hope that at some point in April I would get my placement. I’m trying to keep my mind off of it, but my dreams lately are making it pretty apparent that it’s on my mind. Two days ago I dreamt that I’d gotten my placement and was assigned to San Sebastian…which isn’t even a region, it’s a city in the Basque Country. And it must be associated to the fact that my favorite band is La Oreja de Van Gogh and that’s where they’re from. Then, last night I dreamt that I was already in Spain and was frolicking about in Madrid.

Soon. That’s what I keep telling myself. In just a few months, I will actually be living in Spain. And that makes everything worth it.

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