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Morgan: Intro. with "I am" statements

Hey there!

CIEE challenged every 2016 Teaching Assistant in Spain to create ten “I am” statements to introduce ourselves to the cohort.  I figure that’s a good way to start this blog since it was the first time I felt like this adventure was officially going to happen. I’ll also include two bonus “I am” statements for extra understanding on the type of person and perspectives I’ll present in the remaining blog posts : D

Here are my “I am” statements for your viewing pleasure:

  • I am a motorbike rider.
  • I am a credit card hoarder for the points and free flights.
  • I am a certified yoga instructor, personal trainer and love lifting weights.
  • I am fond of the great outdoors; particularly mountains and lakes without alligators.
  • I am empathetic towards the world and support all those around me.
  • I am an enlightened soul that’s quick to act and enjoys making plans.
  • I am a Leo.
  • I am a minimalist.
  • I am a lover of Revenue Management and Hilton Worldwide.
  • I am currently living in Texas but was raised in a small farm town on the east side of Washington.
  • I am a Social/Analytical bimodal Emergenetic thinker, get ENTJ or INTJ  on Myer’s Briggs depending on the day, and am pretty even on all four DiSC categories with D and I slightly higher for my adaptive and natural tendencies.
  • I am a lover of sarcasm and laughter in order to enjoy all that life throws my way.

Preparing for Spain! (Part 1)

“The friend of my enemy is my enemy.”

(You know, just putting a twist on an ancient proverb to justify giving an ungrateful football player gum that paints his mouth horrid colors*)

Tangent: just look at my cute cousin who was at dinner with us while we were talking about this.

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Anyway, while looking up this gum online (see link below), I had a spasm of nerves about leaving for Spain in a few weeks. To be fair, basically every time I go on Amazon I have heart palpitations. I’ve lived abroad before (shout out to Trinity College Dublin and my 25’ long Ethernet cable), and Amazon is not the same in Europe. Not the same at all!**

So of course I decided the best way to prepare/calm my nerves was to start looking up the stores I used in Dublin (and poking around blogs from expats and people living in Spain) so that I could return to the life of buying in person (R.I.P. 48- and 60-pack toilet paper delivered to my doorstep).

And I found places! So I know that I can survive this year! …Not that it was ever really a question because Madrid is a major metropolitan city, but nerves will be nerves. Without further ado, and hoping this list will be useful to people, a list of useful department/convenience stores/supermarkets:

El Corte Ingles (no personal experience, but the bloggers swear by this dept. store)

IKEA

Tiger (It’s literally an adult junk store. But practical. It was the cheapest in Dublin—think €1-5 price range—and was just amazing)

Carrefour (I went to one in Strasbourg, France, once, and it was mostly food)

Aldi

Lidl (!!!) (In Dublin, it was the cheapest food store.)

Costco

Taste of America (This place apparently has Poptarts, Reeses, and peanut butter. Yes Please.)

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Here’s a handy blog with links to major retailers’ websites: http://www.expatbriefing.com/country/spain/living/shopping-for-expats-in-spain.php

And another: http://www.easyexpat.com/en/guides/spain/madrid/practical/shopping.htm

 

I'll be on the lookout for better food and/or home goods stores when I finally arrive in Madrid (T-3 weeks!), so let me know if there are places I've missed!

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*For real though, these gumballs are insane (or they used to be, I saw them in action once, back when they were still “TongueSplashers”). I’m just going to leave this link here in case anyone has some naughty kids on their Xmas list this year: http://www.candywarehouse.com/candy-type/gum/bubblegum/products/painterz-mouth-coloring-bubble-gum-240-piece-tub/.

** Okay so Amazon is basically the same, but Amazon Prime is not (i.e. Amazon Prime in Europe is like a small, sad weed shadow—when it even exists—to the glorious Redwood that is Prime in the U.S.). But then I remember €1,50 bottles of wine being sold past 10pm, and I don’t care anymore.

Orientation Week

Buenas Tardes Everyone! My first week in Madrid is coming to a close and I still cannot fathom being here a whole year. I don’t know if it’s because I have been go, go, go since landing and just bobbing and weaving with everything thrown my way, that I haven’t had much time to reflect, and/or that I have been privileged enough to travel quite a bit and feel at home in most places. Stay tuned in case I determine the answer.

In other news, over the short time that I’ve been here for Orientation I’ve had quite a few new experiences. Among them are:

•Walking to lunch, walking to dinner, walking tours of neighborhoods, walking, walking, and more walking which has me logging at least 10 miles a day. After three days of this, every step I took made me feel like my calf muscle was tearing from the bone… I swear I work out haha All is well now, I’ve got them walking legs strong!

•I am learning to love siesta time! I never used to nap but Spaniards take it seriously by shutting down shops around 2 P.M. to have lunch with their friends/family and then nap. I have been siestaing everyday since Wednesday and essentially I wake up feeling rejuvenated, shower and prepare as if I’m just starting my day for the first time. That being said, I now eat dinner closer to 9 P.M. and get home anytime from 4-6 o’clock in the morning. The late mornings are due in part to me getting lost with friends on walking “adventures” with inadequate GPS routing and an illogical street layout (not in a grid with typical number or letters for street names like major cities in the States). Late morning arrivals are also due to losing track of time by getting caught up in socializing and being so enthralled by the sites, sounds, and smells of my new home.

•I have encountered a 24 hour pharmacy where essentially the Pharmacist is trained to diagnose most issues without me having the hassle of going to a doctor to get a prescription. I walked up to the pharmacy at 11 PM because I got poison ivy/poison sumac from Watershed (camping festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre) and showed her the rash on my heel through the glass pane separating us from roof to floor. She asked me “what you do?” and I said I don’t know and that I think it’s hives or something and then she proceeded to bring back some antihistamine pills and asked if I wanted a cream too. I said “sure” because I just want it to stop bothering me. I gave 10 euros into a metal box, she shut my side of the box and opened her side, proceeded to take my money out and input my change, receipt and the drugs, shut her side of the box and then opened mine back up and then I was on my marry way. Fascinating.

•I love me some 3 dolla Rioja Tempranillo! It’s red wine which I typically disapprove of but Spain doesn’t add sulfites to their wine so it’s delish and I wake up feeling refreshed! Looks like I’ll be having grapes for dinner quite often…

•WhatsApp is the primary mode of communication. Everyone has a data plan and can often find WIFI so that’s how the Spaniards and foreigners can best communicate. That being said, WIFI is much slower here vs. the States. I personally appreciate it because it discourages me from being glued to my phone and electronics.

•I have the best roommate I could have asked for! Her name is Elaine, from Georgia, used to work at an Advertising firm and decided to severe ties for this opportunity. We are enduring the challenges of having a host Senora that speaks zero English. The first day was a real challenge but we are starting to get settled in and Google Translator is coming in clutch.

P.S. I’ll start being better about photograph inclusion moving forward. I just haven’t been photo snappy happy.

That is all for now. I’m off to go help the roommate find a neighborhood for housing so you know that that means, more walking! Woo! Toodles for now!

Carbs & Bread

!Hola! Amigos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hablo un paco de espanol!

I have officially been placed level A1 at Tandem Escuela Internacional. Thus, don't rely too much on what I wrote in line one. 

I am in Madrid, Spain, one long Air Europa flight later. I walked straight into orientation all excited, and I was wearing my favorite flannel I bought at Goodwill. It's cool, it has a zipper.

I am meeting interesting strangers in the four week teach in Spain immersion program. I realize people are weird in an incredibly perfect way. I walked through Plaza Mayor de Madrid a couple of times, I took a picture of a famous statue: a guy and his horse. I even made a few nightly Agosto fiesta stops and danced to espanol songs I couldn't sing along to. 

There is one thing that has completely taken over my train of thought. First night of orientation a bread basket was served at dinner. Now, this bread. This bread was an amazing pile of carbs. The top had a diamond cut design, and it tasted like a legend. One small piece at a time. 

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Looking at the picture, each plate has half a loaf yet to be nibbled. This does not mean we ate only half the portion at this given time. Here comes the best part. Every fifteen minutes, waiters with paella sized baskets refilled the individual bread plates as if it were a glass of water. 

A couple close up shots: 

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My heart broke when I discovered this was not going to be the average day bread roll I ate on an every day basis. I do believe I can find it again.

My search begins. 

XO,

 

Flo

The Name Game

 

“What's in a name? that which we call a rose. 

By any other name would smell as sweet.” –William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

It’s been one week since my arrival in Spain. We just wrapped up our orientation with CIEE. At orientation, we learned many things many of which will help us around the city of Madrid. For example, how to use the Metro— one of the cleanest I’ve ever seen! Also, I got to see my very first Flamenco dance. What a beautiful dance!

 

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There are around 70 of us in this group; therefore, we have been trying to get to know one another each day by doing different activities. On our first day at dinner we paired up with a partner in our group—my group was number 8 (shout out to group 8). In this exercise, we asked each other some pretty thought provoking questions such as what was your most embarrassing moment or if you could invite someone to dinner, living or deceased, who would it be? When my partner asked the question about who I would invite to dinner, the first person that came to mind in a split second was my grandfather. There are so many questions that can be answered over a meal and also, it would be such an honor to sit and speak with him as an adult. My grandfather loved to cook, so of course as an adult it would also be such a treat to taste his cooking just one more time. The goal of this exercise was to get connected to your partner. But, also, the exercise helped us get in tune with some of the things we hadn't thought about before. For me, it made me think once again about the memories of my childhood and how much I truly love my family.

The most interesting exercise and one that connected me yet again to my grandfather was the exercise that we practiced when we discussed culture. This exercise involved pairing up with a partner and asking them about their given name. Each participant asked the same set of questions to each other. For instance, my partner asked who named me, why they named me, what my name means to me, and what others think about my name.

What I learned about my partner, who happened to be our group leader, was that he is from the south of Spain, from a city called Sevilla. In the south of Spain, it is traditional for your first-born son to be named after the father of the family. Since my partner was the second born, his mother chose to name him after her father, or his grandfather. His name is Luis. For Luis, his name carries a special honor to him because his grandfather was seen as a very intelligent man.

After speaking to Luis, I realized I have so much more to learn about others while living in Spain. I am going to try to reflect upon the interactions I have with Spaniards and other Americans in order to understand more about them and myself. I need to make a commitment to pause and reflect while being abroad. Often times in our daily lives we are so busy that we miss the meaning of what things really mean. Or, maybe we don’t realize the importance of why something means so much to someone else when it may seem so irrelevant to us. Every day we say multiple names as we greet one another but have we really stopped to think about who that person is or where they come from? Or, perhaps thinking about what makes up their life story. Everyone no matter how old they are has a story -- at birth, we start off with a story given to us by our parents who in turn have been a given a story to them by their parents -- our grandparents. That's personal history. 

After you finish reading this, think about what your name means to you. Also, what does your name mean to others in your community? What’s your story? Has anyone that you interacted with lately made the effort to find out? Or, vice versa?

As we anticipate the next chapter of our immersion program, we are excited about the challenges that await us. For some, these challenges mean renting their very first apartment after post-undergraduate studies in a foreign country, in a different language, with a foreign currency... a new job ... new coworkers ... new transportation ... For others, it means learning a new language and exploring a city that doesn’t get dark until about 10:00 pm. For all of us, it means making everlasting friendships and preparing to teach abroad very soon!

Ciao for now,

Leesa with two EE's

Photo: This was group 8 at orientation. There were 8 of these groups and Luis (who is standing) was our group leader. He is a Spaniard. 

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Packing Fashion

I'm learning a few things. 

If I am going to live and work in Madrid, Spain, I need to dress and look the part. It's not required, I wouldn't mind being a tourist for an entire year and mixing up my 'ir' and 'er' conjugated verbs. That would be silly, and being silly is fun. I have a goal, which is to be as fun and flirty as possible. 

I. Must. Sparkle. 

This reasonable and easily achievable target (if I work hard enough) makes packing complicated. Now that I am almost done with the process, I have drafted up a few steps I took to reach completion. 

Step One: See the clothes in your closet? Put them all on your brothers bed, not your bed; where would you sleep? Lil bro gets the couch. 

Step Two: It is humanly possible to fit those clothes in two suitcases. Fold, refold, and refold until it fits. 

Everyone wants to splurge on something new for their big bon voyage. I consider this the bonus question on a final exam. Can you, or can you not, save enough space in the suitcase for a fresh off-the-rack outfit? The good news: I got this question right. 

Below is my new romper. 

Spain 1

She comes from Planet Blue, 191 Lafayette. Straight out of SoHo, Manhattan. A real beauty from my favorite designer, For Love and Lemons. I don't own a romper. This is my first so I wanted to open with a bang. I see myself walking through the streets of Madrid, adventuring and snapping cool pics for social media. All a while wearing my new romper, of course. 

^I get to make this happen because I got the bonus question right. 

I am going to eat pastries that are too beautiful to be edible, while wearing my romper. I am going to hold a hot loaf of bread, while wearing my new romper. 

There will be plenty of clothes to buy in Spain but every girl needs a little something to spark the fashionable inspiration before cruising into a city like Madrid. 

"Gospel." That's what Coco Chanel would say.

XO,

 

Flo

 

 

Sarah's Wanderlust: An Introduction

Hi all! My name is Sarah Skrobala, and I'm thrilled to be blogging for CIEE about my adventures while teaching in, living in, and exploring Spain. A little bit about myself before getting into the heart of the post -- I'm a New Jersey native (north Jersey, to be exact), and I graduated from Fordham University at Rose Hill in 2015 (go Rams!) with Bachelor's Degrees in Political Science and Spanish Language & Literature. I studied abroad in Seville, Spain during the spring of 2014 and absolutely fell in love with the city and Spanish culture (and by that I mean the four hour siestas, which I took advantage of daily). After graduating college (something I'm still pretty heartbroken over), I packed my bags and moved down to Nashville, Tennessee to begin a career in education. I eventually realized that education was not the field for me (ironic that I'm teaching again this year, huh?) and decided to look for an opportunity which allowed me to return to Spain. So, here I am!

Like the perfectionist I am, I struggled for some time to come up with an angle/topic/theme for my first blog post because, well, I wanted it to be perfect and captivating (and have people other than my family and friends want to read what I write). And then this morning it hit me: what I want to accomplish when living abroad. This idea came from my good friend Sam (shout out!) recently asking if I had any "goals" for Spain. So, here they are (in no particular order):

  • Improve my Spanish: I feel like this is what a lot of people move to a new country to do, right? Despite studying abroad in Spain, majoring in Spanish, and teaching many Spanish-speaking students last year, I would deem my Spanish sub-par. In particular, I struggle the most with actually speaking Spanish (which I blame, in part, on having a Jersey accent, making it difficult to pronounce most words, but really, that's just an excuse). This is the primary reason I chose to move to Spain and probably the most important thing on this list.
  • Take a solo trip: Independence is quite important to me, and I've read that travelling alone (especially as a woman) is quite empowering. (My mom will probably worry the entire time.)
  • Learn how to cook classic Spanish dishes: I've only recently realized I can cook (or at least follow recipes) so why not increase my repertoire of dishes (which currently consists of, like, four or five).
  •  Actually immerse myself into Spanish life: I don't want to be that tourist living aboard like I did when I studied abroad. I want to actually be a part of Spanish life.
  • Read a book in Spanish: This will probably take me the entire 10 months I'm abroad (P.S. suggestions appreciated!).
  • Travel: I don't think anyone moves to Europe to not travel.

Alright, that was a lot for one post. I'm trying to not write the way I talk (a lot and with too much unnecessary detail) so hopefully each post will be an improvement. Once I get it started, I'll also include a link to my personal blog. Thanks for joining in as I begin my adventure abroad (in just three short weeks)!

Hasta luego,

Sarah

¡España, ahí te voy!

My name is Leesa and this is my first post about my journey with CIEE.  Before I start discussing my experiences, I want to introduce my motivations and myself. I also want to say that I would appreciate comments you might have over the course of my blogging. I want my posts to detail my time with CIEE and the journey that I am on so that it will be valuable for you as you consider your own path.

I recently graduated from Florida State University with a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from the College of Education. I truly enjoy teaching. It gives me the opportunity to lead and make a positive impact in my students' lives.  I will consider myself fortunate if I can spend the next 20 or 30 years teaching English to those who are ready and willing to learn it. I have spent the last three years dedicating myself to learning my craft, but I still have a long way to go to master it.  I am hopeful that my time in Spain will allow me to grow, learn and ultimately achieve my aspiration of being a truly impactful teacher.  I am a proud American of Puerto Rican descent so I want to share how teaching a language and learning a second language can enrich your life in so many ways. I'm proud of who I am and I want to share my journey with you. Please read on to see why...

My background and upbringing led me to pursue a career as a language teacher.  I am a native Floridian born in the generation X era. My grandparents are Hispanic. They were born in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. My grandfather is someone who will always be a part of my life. Even though he passed away about 20 years ago, not a day goes by that I don't think about him, mention him in a conversation or recall a fond memory that we shared.

When I was a little girl, my grandfather wasn't around all the time, but when he was around it was special. I remember his presence as if he were still standing here in front of me. He had this grin of mischief and this glare of, "Come on girl, let's go." When he came home from his travels overseas, many times from a country in South America, he would bring me a thoughtful memento back. The gift would be a coin from the country he came back from or sometimes, it would be something as small as a match from a match book that was carved to resemble a ballerina. The gifts he chose for me were so special and unique that as a child, my mind would fill with wonder about the world. I knew I wanted to travel one day. I wanted to see all the places he had been. 

I didn't start traveling abroad by myself until about three years ago. I am very fortunate to have traveled with my family, but traveling alone has allowed me to reflect and experience my heritage in a very personal way. My first trip alone was to Puerto Rico; traveling there at the specific moment in my life allowed me to focus on the things that I and I alone cherished most. I had time to truly fall in love with the culture. It was a culture that was so close to my heart that I could not believe that I had not been to see the island sooner. The food tasted exactly the way my grandma cooked it and all of the stories she told me when I was a little girl about the island, they came to life.  It was one of those moments in my life when everything sort of clicked when I returned. I knew that my destiny at that moment was to learn more Spanish. Unfortunately, Spanish wasn't fully taught to me growing up for reasons I will never understand but I don't make it a habit of looking back.

During my visit to Puerto Rico, I wrestled with some profound career questions and how I wanted to lead my life.  A visit to the island is what I needed. It was as if my grandfather in his own way was sending me a sign. At that moment, I needed one. This visit led to my Masters and my professional focus on teaching languages.  Since that time, I haven't stopped traveling to learn, grow and experience the world. 

I look forward to blogging regularly to help others on their journey and to inspire them, as I was inspired three years ago in Puerto Rico.  It was amazing to see firsthand how and where my grandparents lived. My grandfather’s house was still there and it was as if I could see him as a small boy playing in the front yard with the whole world right before him.  That moment inspired me to want to do more and since that moment I have.

My journey is about to start and I hope you will join me on yet another exciting and career defining moment as I travel to Spain. My passion for teaching others the English language is one that I never thought I would have in a million years.  Since my Puerto Rico visit, I have taught English in 8 public schools, I have taught all ages and I have even taught in Medellin, Colombia.  Right now, I can happily say, I am the teacher to ten wonderfully bright amazing students at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. They are from Mexico City, Mexico. The irony of it all is that the last place my grandfather traveled and lived for three years before he was diagnosed with cancer was Mexico City. 2015-07-22 15.00.57

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This blog is dedicated to my incredible and generous grandfather, Fernando E. Colon. May he forever be remembered as a man who gave his family everything he had with love and dedication.  I look forward to hearing from you and discovering your many journeys and adventures. 

 

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One Month

I am home from Africa. Home is Connecticut, USA.

Connecticut is not my first choice state in this country. It is kind of boring but it has it's perks. One being it is a two hour bus ride to Boston, the other being it is a two hour train ride to NYC

I have an estimated four weeks in Hometown, USA to:  

  1. Apply for a Language and Cultural Assistant Visa
  2. Celebrate July 4
  3. Extract four Wisdom Teeth
  4. Learn Spanish and Turn 23 (Due: July 15th)

Four tasks, four weeks. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. I did however manage: three tasks, two weeks (task number four could not be expedited). 

As to not complicate the story, I am going to give a brief synopsis.

I spent one and a half weeks arguing with this pink haired middle aged woman about my background check. Finally got the background check and ran around one full 24 hours getting seals, notarizations, copies, and scans on this piece of paper. 

Woke up: train to NYC Consulate where I dump all my hard work into this obscure mailbox. Train back to Hometown, USA. 

One hour break.

Afternoon: Bus to Boston where friends I have not seen in 365 days pick me up. We cry. We giggle. 

Night: Car drive to Cape Cod. Happy July 4th. 

Four days later: Wisdom teeth extraction. 

Welcome to present time. I could give you more details, but everyone knows the obvious. My mouth hurts. I want my Visa. I want clothes I can't afford from NYC. I love my friends. My mouth hurts. 

I now have about two weeks left before moving to Spain with one task left on my agenda. In five days I need to be Pro Spanish and turn 23. 

Wish my luck! ( I need it).

Here are some fun pics of my friends and I reunited after one year. We get silly. 

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Stephanie in Spain: An Introduction!

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Hola! I'm Stephanie Scarci, a teacher and blogger for the 2016-2017 Teach in Spain program, and this is my first post for my blog - Stephanie in Spain!

    I'm a 23 year old born-and-raised Pittsburgh girl with a love of watching all of our amazing sports teams and exploring in and around the city as much as possible. Travel has always been a huge passion of mine: I've been to China in the summer of 2008 (right before the Olympics) and Spain during Semana Santa in Spring 2011 as well as Mexico and Aruba for vacation, and can't wait to add to the list! I also love working with children and have had to opportunity to do so in the classroom, while I was a figure skating coach, and through different volunteering activities. So, as a new graduate from the University of Pittsburgh in the Spring of 2015, I figure this would be a great opportunity to bring together both of those and applied right away!

    I have so many goals and bucket list items to accomplish during these 10 months abroad! First and foremost, I plan on becoming more fluent with my Spanish speaking skills because there isn't any better way to do that then to just dive into it. Secondly, I hope to be the best Language and Culture Assistant I can be to my school and my classes and make a real difference in the classroom. Beyond that, I hope to travel as much as possible around Spain and Europe in general and starting crossing these items off! A few I can list are skydiving over the Swiss Alps, stay out until sunrise at Kapital in Madrid, spend a week in Santorini, bathe in the Széchenyi Baths in Budapest, and SO many more! 

    Now that I have my visa and one-way plane ticket, and have met so many other teachers like myself, I'm ready to move into this exciting new adventure and look forward to sharing it with you all. My posts will (hopefully) be weekly and I look forward to sharing pictures taken along the way, videos from my GoPro adventures and words of advice that I'll be learning along the way! 

Adios for now! 

P.S. If you want to check out my personal blog, head to my Tumblr page!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surviving Visa Day

On June 27,  I had my Student Visa appointment at the Spanish Consulate in Boston. Although overall the process went smoothly, here is some advice I would have given myself make the process go even smoother: Hopefully others can learn from my mistakes!

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#1. Give Yourself More Time Thank You Think You’ll Need

If there was ever two words that described my makeup as a human being, it would be these: “Type” and “A.” Some would even use the alternatives “control” and “freak.” I always try finish up things I need to get done weeks before they are due (hence why I started collecting my visa documents so early) and always show up to where I need to be excessively early. I live less than an hour north of Boston and have driven into the city many times, so I figured leaving an hour and a half earlier than my 10:30 a.m. appointment would be more than enough time to get to the city early and park with time to spare before my scheduled appointment. WRONG! I had forgotten to factor in something so blatantly obvious as traffic. I very rarely drive into Boston during a weekday morning, so I naively expected that rush over traffic to be over by 9:30 a.m. Needless to say the car ride with my dad got more than tense as my 10:30 appointment time came and went as I was still crossing the Tobin Bridge into the city. After a frantic call to the consulate explaining that I was on my way and a rushed elevator ride up to the ninth floor of 31 St. James Ave I made it to the office around 11:00 a.m. Thankfully my tardiness did not prevent me from turning the forms in. Long story short: if you think you are leaving early enough, leave at least a half hour earlier (at least for all you Boston participants).

#2 Make Copies of Everything, Including Your passport!

As explained in point #1, I am a control freak, meaning I must have read the Student Visa directions on the Spanish Consulate of Boston website at least twenty times, making sure I had everything I needed. As I approached the counter, the secretary blankly stated:

“Before we begin I must ask you if you have copies of all your documents, double sided (to which I replied “yes” since this was specified on the website) and a copy of your passport photo page.” Cue immediate dread: I had not made a copy of my passport photo page. At the very last minute the night before, I made had made a copy of my license, but not my passport. Luckily there was a copy center on the first floor of the building in which the consulate office is located. Learn from my experience: Even if you don’t think you’ll need a copy of something, even in if the directions show no indication that a copy will be needed of a specific document or identification, MAKE A COPY.

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Rey Felipe y Reina Letizia (King Felipe and Queen Letizia)

#3. Fill Out Those Forms Correctly

After waiting for a better part of an hour while the workers looked over my and the other applicant’s documents, my name was called to the window. As the secretary was going through each of my forms, she said that I had mistakenly written in the CIEE Madrid office address in a section of the Visa application form where I should have put in my assigned school’s information. I had to rewrite this portion of the application, as well as fix the dates (I wrote in the date of my orientation as the date of entry, when really it should have stated the date I will start at my school). So just double check the application line by line, and try to catch any mistakes before your appointment. It will save you time and frustration.

 

#4. Be Prepared to Wait

If there is one thing I have learned about Spaniards through studying and traveling in Spain multiple times before, it is that they move at their own pace, on both a personal and professional level. More than likely, your visa appointment (at least at the Spanish Consulate in Boston) will take longer than  you expect. Overall, I probably spent the better part of two hours at the consulate. If you are employed, I would suggest taking the entire day off unless you want to rush back to your job halfway through the workday like me. Having a free day will reduce stress and nerves, and will make the waiting game be that much more bearable. Some of the parents of college students waiting for their own student visa documents to be processed became impatient and even asked the consulate workers what exactly was taking so long. In order to stay calm and professional, expect a long wait: at least if it goes by fast you’ll be happily surprised.

 

And the waiting does not stop there. I now have to wait one month to email the Consulate and check in on the status of my visa. If approved, I will have to go back to Boston to pick up my passport and newly-attached visa, but I don’t mind the wait. It just means I am one step closer to Spain!

Sarah