Part of living abroad I truly did not process until the last few months was the level of "adulting" required with the big move. This is not study abroad where I was unemployed and had a host mom who cooked my meals, paid the bills and washed my clothes. I'm living in my first ever apartment, had to get a Spanish phone number/SIM card, learned how to open a bank account and required to apply for residency. All of this had to be done on a new continent and in a new country that speaks a different language. I was intimidated, but ready.
1. to behave in an adult manner; engage in activities associated with adulthood
2. to make someone behave like an adult; turn someone into an adult
Source: American Speech
Spanish Phone Number
As I briefly mentioned in my first post about Madrid, I forgot to get my phone unlocked before I left home therefore this process was insanely frustrating. AT&T was super helpful as I used the AT&T Chat option online to fill out an Unlock Request Form. After paying off my phone they approved my request to get a SIM card. The rest was easy after I determined which phone company I wanted to use. I learned there are many similar options for phone plans such as Movistar, Vodafone, Orange, etc. I chose Movistar as my Spanish phone carrier, picked a cheap plan I could use from my phone, and installed the SIM. Then, I was free to continue my apartment search when I arrived in Logroño.
Piso (Apartment) Hunting
Despite the many side eyes I received when I mentioned my move to Spain without an apartment, I didn't think about this much until I actually made it. Then I was nervous, but trying to play it cool once I got here. However moving and finding an apartment was quite painless! I used sites like Idealista, Easy Piso and Mil Anuncios to find the pisos in my price range and messaged landlords via WhatsApp. I ended up seeing two total and decided on the second one because the neighborhood, price and roommate situation was too good to pass up. Making a pros and cons list and knowing the Spanish equivalent to amenities I wanted in my piso helped my search as well. I moved in the following Monday, just in time for school to start that Thursday. To make it more homey I went to Primark for basics such as sheets and a pillow, since it's cheap and nice quality. Once I got settled in, I could focus on other tasks.
Opening a Bank Account
Just like phone carriers, there were many banking options to choose from such as Santander, EVO, La Caixa and Bankia. I saw them everywhere, so I decided to bank with BBVA and went early in the morning to get my paperwork completed. Since many other Fulbrighters went around the same time to the same bank, the tellers knew what type of account we all wanted. After a few computer issues, a couple photocopies and many signatures I officially had a Spanish bank account! The bankers were very accommodating, friendly and patient, which I greatly appreciated when I came back multiple times to fix my account after some mishaps. You can't beat the northern hospitality of Spain!
Spanish Residency (TIE)
This was probably the most tedious task I had to do. I'm not going to do a step-by-step recap of how to get a Spanish TIE and Empadronamiento (that I ended up not needing) because there are many other resources on the web, like Como Consulting Spain, but it required a lot of copies and patience. Spanish government offices close between 1pm and 2pm so it was a mad dash to get up, out and copies made in time. Some offices will even close before your number is called! Luckily that didn't happen. Because Logroño is a smaller city, a few trips were required to fill out the paperwork, pay the tasa at the bank, and get fingerprinted, but everything went smoothly. I learned to bring a book, magazine or something to do as I waited for my number to be called. I get my card this month!
Certificate of Sexual Crimes
The final step was the most simple task: to be cleared that I have not committed any sexual crimes. This is a new requirement for everyone working with children in La Rioja and put in place this year. All I needed was my passport and I filled out some information as they ran my NIE through their system. Of course it came up empty (because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have received my visa if I didn't pass with my background check in the US) and I was officially done with all of my "adulting."
There you have it! I "survived!" My transition period is over and I'm fidning balance between work, socializing, Netflix and traveling. Looking back on it, the process wasn't that bad. Fulbright pretty much outlined what needed to be done, it was just a matter of finding my way around. As far as other less formal "adulting" behaviors such as paying rent, budgeting, grocery shopping, working out, etc. I am figuring those out as I go along. But coming earlier than other auxiliars and before San Mateo to get moving out of the way was worth it. It was draining at times but necessary for a smoother, and more legal, stay in Spain! Now I can relax and focus on my work, eating and traveling.
What do you think is the most daunting process of living abroad?
I'd rather splurge on a good meal than a nice hotel, wine than water and plane tickets than club covers. Traveling and eating are my two favorite things, so follow my journey to see where I go and eat next! I'm just living my best life.