A New Season…

Hello…It’s me–no, not Adele, Betty…I know I’ve said this before quite a bit, but my life has definitely been really busy over these last 2 years…Well, “busy” and in the sense that I’ve been very active going to work, hanging out with friends, volunteering at my church, hitting the gym, etc., and “not busy” in the sense that working on an auxiliar’s schedule definitely still affords me quite a bit of free time, but by the time I get home, I’m often so tired from all the stuff that I’ve been doing that all I want to do is plop down on my bed and crash…

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Well, now that it’s vacation and I have the whole weekend off from my summer job, I can finally fill ya’ll in on what exactly has gone on… Continue reading “A New Season…”

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Livin’ La Vida Madrileña: Monthly Recap #1.5…

Once again, I seem to have broken my promises of actually writing consistently–but, I actually have a legit excuse for the radio silence: Since arriving to the Spanish capital this past 15th of September, I’ve been in this flux, trying to get my ducks in a row–you know, piso (apartment) hunting, getting registered at my current address, and getting oriented and settled in at my new workplace!!…I’ve been crazy-busy these past some-odd weeks, so I’ll try my best to recap what exactly has been going on in my little sphere!!…

La Casa:

Upon arriving here, my first main priority was finding an apartment–imperative, because I needed a place with a landlord that offered a contract, something that is required to become empadronada (registered with the city), which in turn is required to get your T.I.E. (Foreigner’s I.D. Card)…I wanted somewhere where a Cercanías (commuter train) station was easily accessible, 450€/less (bills included), and with central heating and WIFI already installed (or about-to-be-installed by the landlord)…

This year, from what I understand, the competition in The Great Piso Hunt was particularly intense, what with more Spaniards moving to the Capital to find employment, more auxiliares than ever, and an influx of refugees from Syria and Lebanon…But praise God, I found my room in only 4 days (some people are still searching for a place to live), and I live in Puerta de Toledo, an area that’s fairly central (it’s just one Metro stop below vibrant La Latina, the city’s oldest neighborhood), has central heating and WIFI, is 12-15 minutes from a Cercanías station (which makes my commute that much easier), is around 50-60€ cheaper from my maximum price point, AND a fairly austere (but ultimately fair) landlord who gave me a contract and who doesn’t overstep any boundaries…

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…The Puerta de Toledo–a former gateway that marked the outskirts of the city, it lends its name to my current neighborhood… Continue reading “Livin’ La Vida Madrileña: Monthly Recap #1.5…”

Growth: 4 Ways I’ve Changed After Moving To Spain…

Today I had my last class as an auxiliar de conversación here in Zaragoza, and I’m headed back Stateside in a few weeks–cómo se va el tiempo (how time flies), indeed!!…These past 8 months have flown by, filled with highs, lows, and a lot of chuches from El Rincón (a chain of frutos secos stores based in ZGZ), and as cliché as it sounds, this experience has developed me and changed me in more ways than one…

Culinary Game On Point

I stand by what I’ve always believed about cooking: It’s fairly simple, and you just need to be able to follow instructions to get it done (and get it done right). But considering that I only receive a limited monthly stipend, it’s not like I can go out and splurge on pinchos every day, so I’ve definitely nailed down the art of preparing palatable portions (say that 3x fast) that last for a few days…Plus, there’s a variety amazingly fresh, high quality, affordable ingredients here (olive oil and garlic, anyone?), which means I’ve gotten to flex my culinary creativity muscles and make some truly beautiful dishes here!!…

happily-cooking_482 Continue reading “Growth: 4 Ways I’ve Changed After Moving To Spain…”

Contemplation: Or, What’s Keeping My Thoughts Occupied…

Hey, folks–sorry for another bout of radio silence: I’ve been here, there, and everywhere, trying to get various things settled and sorted (like a grown-up), and sometimes my blogging gets caught by the wayside…But, hey–I’m hanging in there!!…

Well, one of the major things that happened this week is that the application for the NALCA application opened up again…In case you didn’t know, the NALCA (North American Language and Cultural Assitants) program is what has given me an excuse to live here legally in Spain, working as an auxiliar de conversación (English Teaching Assistant) at an E.O.I. (Official Language School)…Now, with this program, you have the opportunity to renew your position as an auxiliar for another year or two (or three [four…]), either in the same city/region or another city/region, and since I definitely want a lot more time to enjoy la vida española, I’m definitely going to put in for renewal!!…

But that’s where things get murky… Continue reading “Contemplation: Or, What’s Keeping My Thoughts Occupied…”

Livin’ “Dat Expat Life”: Monthly Recap #1…

As of today, I have officially been living in España for a little over a month–it is truly crazy how the time has been flying!!…

So, this post essentially amounts to an “In Case You Missed It” regarding my first month of “Dat Expat Life”…

The Arrival/Rough Adjustment:

As I wrote previously, I had a less-than-smooth arrival to ZGZ capital…The first week and a half getting settled in and sorted was stressful, to say the least–but, things have gotten SIGNIFICANTLY better since then: I’ve made some friends, gotten myself orientated the city/know more-or-less which buses and tram routes to ride, and have been adjusting to being an adult foreign national–with a bank card, I.D. #, and everything!!…

tumblr_ma16ez3pVc1qgg6zbo1_500 Continue reading “Livin’ “Dat Expat Life”: Monthly Recap #1…”

It’s The FINAL COUNTDOWWWWN: The “One-Month-Until-Spain” To-Do List!!…

As of this day, it is officially ONE MONTH until I make that transatlantic flight from J.F.K. to start my new life in España!!!!…

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…Indeed, it IS, :-D!!…

Still, there are several more things that I feel I must accomplish before that wonderful day of days arrives!!… Continue reading “It’s The FINAL COUNTDOWWWWN: The “One-Month-Until-Spain” To-Do List!!…”

A Dedication to Zaragoza–My Future Home…

As I announced previously, my future city of residence in España will be none other than that illustrious Aragonese captial, Zaragoza!!… Unfortunately, ZGZ definitely doesn’t seem to pop up that often on most people’s radar: Not too many people who I know have heard of it, and I seem to be one of the only two auxiliares in the blogosphere who are actually working there (the other being Blayne from Leaves From The Vine [check it out, check it ouuuuut!!])… Hence, in this post, I’ll try to rep my future city and bring its awesomeness to light (with the vast majority of info and photos coming from Wikipedia)!!… Basilica--

La Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar (beautiful, isn’t it???)… Continue reading “A Dedication to Zaragoza–My Future Home…”

Triumph: I’VE GOT THE GOLDEN TICKET (I Mean, Carta)!!!!…

FINALLY–after months of waiting, I opened my e-mail first thing this morning, and I saw IT–my CARTA!!!!…

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…Carlton clearly knows how I’m feeling!!!!…

And so, I am proud to say that, over the course of an academic year (8-9 months), I will be living and working in this MAGNIFICENT city: Continue reading “Triumph: I’VE GOT THE GOLDEN TICKET (I Mean, Carta)!!!!…”

It’s ALMOST Here!!!!…

O.K., people–I’m so STOKED, right now!!!!…Within the last hour I’ve received an e-mail from María Pilar–the nice lady who serves as the contact person for us auxiliares aragoneses–that says

“Las cartas de los nombramientos se van a enviar mañana por correo postal. En los próximos días, recibirás toda la documentación también por correo electrónico.”

Loosely translated, it means that my carta will be mailed off tomorrow, and I’ll get my placement information by e-mail all within the next some-odd days as well…IT’S FINALLY HAPPENING!!!!…

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Indeed, Sirius, :-)…

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Tedium: Or, Applying For A Spanish Student Visa At The Washington D.C. Consulate…

Whilst returning to Spain is a blessing that I do not take lightly, admittedly, there’s quite a bit of rigmarole to get through even before I arrive in the country–and there’s nothing quite as tedious as the student visa application process…
Inspired by some of my fellow auxiliars, past and present, I’ve decided to give some insight into the nature of this ordeal (and to help any confused D.C.-, V.A.-, M.D.-, W,V.-, N.C.-based Spain hopefuls), I’m elaborating over all that it requires…
Disclaimer: I am in no way, shape, or form an omniscient “Spanish Student Visa Expert”–I’m just laying out my own personal experience with this sort of thing…As always, you should consult the Consulate’s website for the latest requirements!!…
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…Eyes on the prize, people [not my visa]!!…

Continue reading “Tedium: Or, Applying For A Spanish Student Visa At The Washington D.C. Consulate…”

Anticipation: Or, 9 Ways to Maintain One’s Sanity While Waiting for the Carta…

If you’re reading this, and you’re like me, you’ve signed on to be a participant in the North American Language and Culture Assistants Program–which means you get to spend (at least) 9 months lazing about working in Spain, the glorious land of sun, sangría, and seseo!!…

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…Get happy like these two!!…

However, just because your head is clear of any doubts, and you’re now officially headed to España, doesn’t mean that the anxiousness ends here…You see, after accepting their positions in the program, all auxiliares wait to receive their carta de nombramiento (letter of placement) via e-mail and/or snail mail, which informs them as to a) what exact city or pueblo they’re in, and b) which school(s) they’ve been assigned to, as well as the contact information of their coordinators/administrators…Depending on which region you’re in, the timeframe in which you receive your carta varies–for instance, people in Andalucía have been getting theirs since late May/early June, while people in my region, Aragón, have to wait until mid-July…

As you can see, all of this waiting can be very nerve-wracking for us auxiliares–especially because we need our cartas to be able to apply for our visas…Hence, the emotional response to this waiting game ranges from

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…melancholy, pensive contemplation and expectation (“Everyone’s sharing their assignments, and I’m here, waiting for my carta.”), to…

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…abject rage, frustration, angst, and impatience (like Loki, here)…

Yes, friends–’tis trying sometimes…However, here’s some things that you can do to beat the I-need-my-carta blues!!… Continue reading “Anticipation: Or, 9 Ways to Maintain One’s Sanity While Waiting for the Carta…”