Backpack. Knapsack. Bookbag. Vessels that carry useful information from one place to another. What do you need to move to Spain as a Meddeas Language Assistant? Do yourself a favor and organize your papers, ideas, clothes, everything in a nice little backpack of planning to keep with you on this journey to Spain.
So, what do you need to move to Spain? Here are my must-haves!
THE PLANNING BINDER CONTAINING ALL OF YOUR CHECKLISTS
While anxiously unzipping this backpack, pull out all the lists that you have received from Meddeas, the Embassy, and all the blogs you have read online. Everything. This stuff needs to get done. It needs your absolute-100%-ain’t-no-part-time-about-it attention.
Moving to Spain from US will test your planning skills. If you don’t have any of these skills, please go to the nearest store and buy yourself a whole box of ’em.
On to the next item in your bookbag:
THE QUILL AND GOLDEN STAMPS
What is as light as a feather and can fly you to the other side of the ocean? Documents. Perfectly dated, stamped, and signed with nice little swirly signatures.
Inside this book bag is your lifeline to travel abroad. You can hesitate about selling your bike. Procrastinate about packing. Equivocate your placement description because you won’t really know all the details until you get there. But those emails, letters, apostilles, and notarized stamps are our golden ticket into the Chocolate Factory. Be persistent in obtaining everything you need before moving to Spain, crossing all your t’s and dotting all your i’s. Double and triple check the requirements for the visa and for when you arrive.
YOGA MAT, MANZANILLA TEA, AND STRESS BALL
You may need some method of relaxation, as some things will be a little, err, abrasive and you will have to adapt.
As an American, one hiccup I had was confusing background checks. The student visa only requires a state, whereas Meddeas requires the federal.
I lied. I had multiple hiccups. A severe case of the hiccups. See at the end of the post for details.
YOUR GROWN-UP CLOTHES AND SMARTY-PANTS GLASSES
To keep you in professional mode and prep you for the Language Assistant role in this program, make sure you pack some nice and neat clothes. Some schools will expect that you follow a business casual dresscode. Jeans and sneakers are not a good idea, so stick to trousers and shirts or blouses.
Being that we are in Spain, it would also be advised to learn Spanish! You may never again have the opportunity to hear Spanish thumping your eardrums this often for the rest of your life.
Practice. Talk to locals. Watch sappy TV dramas (I really enjoyed Mar de Plástico). Take advantage of every syllable you can squeeze out!
There is a Spanish equivalent to the Cambridge Exam called DELE, where you can take an exam to receive an official certification of your Spanish level. This is highly valuable. If value had a height, this would be the Mountain Everest of Spanish language qualifications.
Now, there are some other tips that I want to give you before you move to Spain.
- Schedule your visa appointment between 60-90 days prior to departure date.
- Learn to use Dropbox, Spain is not hip and with the times. And by that I mean no one uses Google Drive.
- Make sure you have cash saved up. You will not receive the stipend until a few weeks after you move to Spain and start your placement. And upon arrival you will need double to triple the amount of rent to sign a contract, getting a SIM card, and transportation. Believe me: you will want to do some travelling!
- Feel the flow of the town when you arrive. Especially in Andalucía, “siesta time” is a very, very real thing. Everything is closed. It may close earlier than siesta time. It may open way later after siesta time. Posted schedules are more like suggested times to stop by, if there is a posted schedule at all. Now that we are out of our corporate-owned comfort zone, we have to get used to locally owned businesses (which is great!) and their will to open whenever they want (blehh).
- Gone are the days when you could Google everything. Need to find a LycaMobile carrier? A dollar store? A place that sells plants? Walk the town. None of this information is on the web. It is frustrating and refreshing all at the same time. Once you get used to the olden ways of “asking around” where to find this and that, you feel a deeper sense of connection, a better blood flow from you to your neighborhood.
Mary Poppins Suitcase of Information
Luckily for you, Meddeas is lovely and sends you a Mary Poppins-style suitcase of information to keep you a few steps ahead of the anxious-treacherous-waiting game that is obtaining a student visa, health insurance, and your TIE card. These are some important things to know before moving to Spain.
One Last Tip
One more tip: all in all, you will enjoy this journey as long as you make the most of it. We are living in Spain having the time of our lives. It is not something to miss out on!