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3 posts categorized "Kamala Alcantara"

The AZ to Spain Visa Documentation Process: Part 1

As a future CIEE Language and Cultural Assistant in Madrid, Spain, we are required to obtain a Long-Stay (180+ day) Student Visa from the Spanish Consulate in order to remain in the country.  As stated on the Spanish Consulate website, "The Visa will be valid for 90 days. During the first month of your stay in Spain, you must go to the Local Police Station where you will receive a 'Tarjeta de Identificación de Extranjero' (NIE/TIE). " The following information is my experience being an applicant from Arizona and going through the Spanish Consulate in Los Angeles, focusing right now on the documentation process. Below are the steps we (my boyfriend and I) are taking in the initial documentation process. Check back for Part 2 the actual Visa appointment after June 23rd!

  1. Make An Appointment In AZ, we have to fly to Los Angeles, CA for an in-person appointment! To successfully achieve your visa before mid-August 2017 (for the Teach in Spain – 4 weeks immersion, other programs differ, see the CIEE Spain Visa Guide for help) we’re instructed to schedule our appointment between June 19th and June 30th. Since there are very limited appointments in the Los Angeles Spain consulate, I booked an appointment in mid-April for June 23rd, 2017! If you haven’t booked now, keep looking and refreshing the page since appointments are continually added. Making the actual appointment when times are available is SUPER easy.

 Navigate to the site (link above). Click “Make an Appointment”!

Visa.Appt.Part1.AppLink

Create a username and password, then follow the prompts and select the time that works best for you.   

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They will email you appointment confirmation and it will be titled “The Consulate General of Spain in Los Angeles Appointment Confirmation”. On the email they will include links and further instructions for your Visa appointment. (You also must print the email confirmation page and bring it with you too.)

  1. Read the website for your specific consulate! Now that you’ve scheduled an appointment, you need to invest time in reading the site for everything you need to bring with you! I spent maybe an hour and a half (I'm a fast reader) to read everything and open links and research documents.
  2. Download the Visa Application Checklist This is literally the list that has all the documentation you need to bring with you for your Visa. Download and print all the documents needed from the website (most documents you need to get on your own, I will expand more on this.)
  3. Make your own list of steps to obtain EVERYTHING. Here is MINE below: 
  4. Visa application form – (Download on Spanish consulate website, fill out in capital letters with black ink) Original and a photocopy
  5. 4-6 copies of passport photo (white background, obtain at CVS Photo by house, takes 5 minutes $13.00 for 2 copies)
  6. Passport - Original and a photocopy of the main page (I have this already.)
  7. Driver’s License - Original and a photocopy
  8. Acceptance Letter- Original and a photocopy (Ministry of Spain sends this early June)
  9. Evidence of Funds – Original and one photocopy - print 3 months bank statements in mid-June
  10. Medical Travel Insurance - Original and a photocopy (CIEE sends this in late May)
  11. Medical Certificate - Original and a photocopy (Print on Spanish Consulate website)

Schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor –make sure to let them know they need to print your Medical Letter for the Consulate with their letterhead and sign documents for you, bring the CIEE medical form on the CIEE application site AND bring the medical letter with translation on it already. Keep in mind you’ll need your immunization records if your doctor does not already have them to sign off on CIEE medical form. (Tip: The County Records office will have all your immunizations records, as medical providers are required to send this data there.)

  1. Certification of “absence of police records” –Original, a photocopy and translation into Spanish.

In Arizona we must obtain a FBI background check. We went through an online FBI-approved channeler at http://www.myfbireport.com/. We obtained fingerprint cards Monday, sent them in priority 1-day mail at FedEx ($26.00) on Tuesday, and then received our FBI background check forms by Saturday ($39.95 +$9.00 for the 1 additional copy we need for our school, +$14.00 optional USPS Priority Mail). We obtained the document inside of a week, but it does take a couple stops and exchanges before it's ready for the Visa appointment. Here are the steps for AZ:

  1. Stop by Phoenix Police Records Department to obtain 2 copies of fingerprint cards This process only took 15-20 minutes around 8:00 am when they opened, bring an ID and $6.00 per card, $12 total. It was strongly suggested to grab 2 copies just in case a print isn’t readable, the second copy will help provide a second print to analyze. You don't want to have to go back and do the process all over again. 
  2. Send 2 copies of fingerprint card & Request Forms (print on my FBI report website) to:
  3. National Credit Reporting
  4. ATTN: FBI Consumer Report Request
  5. 6830 Via Del Oro, Suite 105
  6. San Jose, CA 95119
FBI report Screenshot
This is what the My FBI Report site looks like...
  1. Obtain Spanish Translation certified through Rev ($33.00/per page, if no records, the FBI background check is only 1 page) They say it is a 24-hour turnaround but they literally sent my translation in 15 minutes!
  2. Mail FBI background Check to U.S. Department of State in DC for Apostille.  $8.00 per document (need money order--processing time is 5 weeks)
  1. Visa fees $160.00 Money Order only - Money orders are to be addressed to the General Consulate of Spain Los Angeles.
  2. Prepaid “Express mail” envelope through U.S. Postal Service or FedEx completely filled out with your name and address in both the “To” and “From” sections, (pick up in early June...)
  3. Disclaimer duly signed (print this 1 page form from Los Angeles Spain Consulate website)

And there you have it! Again, this is for the Los Angeles Spain Consulate for Arizona residents, even so, always check the Spanish Consulate website! Overall, we spent $155.95 for everything mentioned above excluding Visa fee, gas $ for the drive and hotel for a night for our in-person visa appointment. 

Good luck everyone! I will post Part 2 right after my visa appointment June 23rd!

It'll be just as magical as Beauty & the Beast once you've finished gathering the documents!

via GIPHY

But seriously though, we should get medals with our visas...

Carlitos and Kamala Pats Run
Boyfriend & I after conquering the 13th Annual 4.2 Mile Pat's Run in Tempe, AZ | April 22, 2017

Many blessings,

Kamalía 

Top 5 Excuses NOT to Travel

Hi friends!

I wanted to talk about a pet peeve and arch-nemesis of mine: EXCUSES. We hear them all the time and even make them all the time, mentally or to anyone around us. They can be the chains we put on ourselves; they hinder progress and stop us from having fun or stepping outside of our box! I wanted to remind anyone who reads this that only YOU can stop you. My boyfriend and I have been counting down the days until each little checkpoint--Visa instructions, placement, Visa appointment and our eventual departure to Spain. It's so overwhelming, but we've received so many wonderful blessings and warm support from friends, families and strangers! We get a LOT of questions and so many people say "UGH! I wish I could do that TOO!" We always say, "Apply, do it!" But we're met with EXCUSES. I wanted to counter the top 5 I've heard and read about:

Imgres

"I'm broke!"

Don't let money stop you! You HAVE TO BUDGET! After extensive research scouring blogs and books, I've found that exploring the world does not have to be expensive.  You can even enjoy some cities for cheap or even free. There are a lot of creative ways to save money! For example, with my regular paychecks at work, I have 80% directly deposited to my checking and the remaining 20% directly deposited to my savings. This little trick allowed me to save more than I ever have in my lifetime. If I don't have the money in my checking, I can't spend it! You have to know where your money is going. Maybe you DON'T need that extra $13 cocktail or the $3.00 guac. Check out these awesome budgeting templates from the Huffington Post here!

"An investment in travel is an investment in yourself!" - Matthew Karsten

Imgres

"I won't be able to get a job once I come back to the U.S.!"

Did you know that 75% of the CEOs leading Fortune 100 companies have international experience? You'll find that most employers value leadership, organization, self-starters, and people with excellent problem solving and communication skills! The challenge and experience of living abroad will certainly inject or increase these soft skills in you! Check out Forbes' Six Myths to Ignore About Working Overseas! UC Merced also released info on the benefits of having experience abroad. International experience doubled the chances of securing a job, imparted valuable job skills and secured higher salaries!

“So much of who we are is where we have been.” – William Langewiesche

Imgres-2

"I'm too scared to fly!"

Did you know that you're actually more likely to be STRUCK BY LIGHTNING than to die in an airline accident? It's true! There's only a 1 in 8 million chance to die from a plane crash vs. a 1 in 6.3 million chance to get struck by lightning! Not to be bleak, but you're also more likely to die from drowning, a gunshot wound, a car accident, or heart disease...

“Man [and women] cannot discover new oceans unless he [or she] has courage to lose sight of the shore.” - Andre Gide

"I can't make a living out there!"

Sure you can! With programs like CIEE Teach Abroad you get a monthly stipend to teach English in many countries like Spain or Thailand. With great planning, this can pay out your monthly rent, phone service, transportation expenses and food! You can also pick up some extra cash by private tutoring. Since you only have a 16-hour workweek, that's an additional WHOLE day in your week to generate income & travel! You can also find REMOTE U.S. jobs, and/or blog for a living—see here: http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/how-to-create-a-travel-blog/! 

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” –Susan Sontag

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"I can't just leave everyone/thing behind!"

Hey! Don't think about it like that, but...YES YOU CAN. You will most certainly be missed. And you will also miss them...well maybe not the ones that never text back... But consider all of the experiences, growth, and knowledge you will obtain from taking the challenge of living in another country. Every single minute, $1.8 million is spent on travel, you are not alone! Plus, maybe you can bring a friend or (existing) significant other with you! The opportunity of a lifetime awaits you, and your community will welcome you home with open arms!

A wise anonymous human once said, "We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us."

Abrazos,

Kamalía

ACCEPTED! The CIEE Application & Me

Holaaa!

     Thanks for stopping by to read my very first post! I'm Kamalía, like Kah-mah-lee-yah. I wanted to talk to you about the CIEE application process.

    A few quick things about myself: I was just recently honored with the role of an Official Blogger for CIEE! I am a proud alumna of Harvard University and Arizona State University. I’ve served as a university advisor for the TRIO programs and I love to teach others and learn. I’m 27, with 3 degrees and a craving to explore the world!

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My maltipoo baby, Jacob and I

On to other important things, I was recently accepted to the Teach in Spain + 4 Week Immersion program and I’m extremely excited!

    If you haven't started yet, the CIEE application system is easy to navigate. You can conveniently save and submit one item at a time, and log out and come back and complete it later! So no excuses that you don’t have the time! 

    The resume part might trip you up--but no fear, I always gave my students this awesome easy-to-follow Harvard Resume guide here:

http://ocs.fas.harvard.edu/files/ocs/files/undergrad_resumes_and_cover_letters.pdf

    One more tip for scanning your degree or your passport photo, you can easily download the free app iScanner to your phone and just take pictures, send them to your email and instantly upload them from your computer. 

The personal statement took me the longest because it is asking WHO you are, WHY this path, and WHAT motivates you, PLUS it's PERSONAL! The CIEE personal statement asks you to answer certain questions and they're flexible on what format you use. I like essay-style, so I wrote the questions in Microsoft Word, answered them individually in paragraph form, then deleted the questions and wove the paragraphs together.

Personal-statement

For help on personal statement writing, I love this site: http://college.usatoday.com/2012/10/12/10-tips-for-writing-a-grad-school-personal-statement/.

 It briefly explains a grad school statement; but it can easily be catered to creating your CIEE personal statement. Plus it’s great practice for gap-year students who may eventually go on to graduate school! I know it can be hard to share about yourself, but do get a pair of eyes to look over your essay, someone you trust. Don't change it too much, just have them look out for grammatical errors, remember, the personal statement is about you! 

Now, I would love to share with you some reasons why I want to go to Spain!

Here is an excerpt from my CIEE personal statement:

    “I have a heart, mind and spirit that aches to consume knowledge, explore the world, taste different foods, live in the moment, educate, explore and to be exposed to all the beauties of culture. Spain innately offers the treasures and opportunities to satiate the pangs of this hunger. There is much to discover about the history of Spain through the Catholic churches, to housing the oldest operating restaurant in the world, to living a completely different lifestyle than I’m accustomed to. The very first savory appetizer that drew me into this country was served upon my very first day of 4th grade in one of my favorite classes appropriately named “Spanish”. My teacher had been inspired by the art and language of the country over her entire summer vacation and was now imparting that energy, insight and music into the ears of her students. I went home with a masterpiece of 64 different crayon colors on a sheet of paper, slightly crinkled at my fist, with the shape of Spain on it; with the city of Madrid in bold at its center. For Christmas, when most little girls asked for a Barbie Dream House and Game Boys, I wrote to Santa Clause for a globe. The world seemed so small on my globe. I could trace my finger a couple inches to the left across the ocean from North America to Europe, then just a couple inches more to the Philippines, my mother’s home country.

[…]

    ‘Learn to Change the World’ emblazoned every entrance and website of my Masters program at Harvard. These were the very words that initially inspired me to apply to the program to quell my intrinsic urge to create positive multicultural environments, fight social injustice, and to bridge the gap in health and educational disparities on a domestic and global scale. If I am truly to change the world, shouldn’t I have at least experienced the world?”

    Thank you for reading the first two paragraphs of my personal statement! 

    Aside from my craving for culture, I am most excited about experiencing Spain and other countries in Europe, becoming fluent in Spanish, crossing off a lot of items on my “bucket list”, blogging, making new friends and trying new foods and drinks! I’m nervous to leave my family, friends and dog children behind; but adventure calls to me, and I refuse to ignore it!

    Look out for more of my future posts on the VISA process, placement and adventures in Europe!

Abrazos,

Kamalía

 

Kamala Alcantara - I Want To Teach in SPAIN to...
South Mountain, Phoenix, AZ | Photo by: Carlitos Hernandez | March 2017

 

 

 

 

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