Housing, in Spain? Oh my!

Housing, in Spain? Oh my!

The time is getting close for everyone to move to Spain and everyone is stressing about not having an apartment. Yes, you do have fair enough reason to be stressing, you are moving across the ocean with all of your junk and you don’t have anywhere to keep it! However, just relax. It WILL work out. To be honest though, finding housing isn’t as easy as it was in college. You can’t just ask one of your friends for advice because everyone has a different school placement and different financial situations. In college, we just wanted to know where’s the best place to live off campus, closest to the bus line, nearest to the best bars (because we would all be walking home through knee deep snow) and which landlords are most likely to give back your security deposit in full. Friends could usually tell you all of this information and more! In Spain, we want to know the same things, it’s just ALOT more difficult. You have a lot of options, almost too many. Do I want to be an au pair or just rent a room? Do I want to search on a website? Do I want to go through a company? How much am I willing to pay? How far am I willing to commute? Let’s take a look!

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Thanksgiving at my apartment in Madrid! November 2013

Housing Options

Rent a room: One room. This is the ideal situation. It’s all you want and all you need. Bills in your name? Try not to. Sign a lease? If you don’t have to, don’t. Security deposit? One month only please.
Rent a piso (an entire apartment): Yes, people do this however, really really think about what you are committing to.This would mean that you would have to fill the other bedrooms and you would have to have all the bills (internet, water, gas, etc) in your name. If you don’t find a roommate, you are responsible. If the internet stops working, you are responsible. If the bill is really crazy one month, you are responsible to find out why. If there are cockroaches, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE. Think about it…do you want to be THAT responsible?
Be an au pair: Live with a family, spend a couple hours a day teaching english to their kids and you can live for free and eat for free. Everyone I know who has been an au pair has had a different experience. Some liked it, some hated it. It really takes dedication. I tried it for a month, in the end I moved out. I didn’t want to spend 5 days a week giving private classes to three kids when I only have to work as an auxiliar 4 days a week. Maybe I am just lazy but I didn’t want to feel guilty when I wanted to take my 3 day weekends to myself. If I wanted to travel or lay in bed or do whatever I darn well please, I didn’t want to have to worry about a family needing me to pick kids up from school and then give them english classes on my day off.

How to Find Housing

Idealista: A housing website. The problem with housing websites is that many rooms get filled and the landlord doesn’t take the ad down. You could call 15 people and they could all say “Sorry, its already rented out”…Really irritating especially when you’re wasting minutes calling them!
EasyPiso: A housing website. I don’t like this one really but I know others use it.
SegundaMano: A housing website.
Auxiliar de conversación Facebook page: Often auxiliars are looking for roommates or renting out their own room. Also, Spanish people use the auxiliar page to contact people about open bedrooms in their flats or about being au pairs.
Ads on the street: As you walk around the neighborhood you want to live in, you will see ads posted on telephone poles or doors or anywhere really. Write down the phone number, give them a call and go see the apartment. (That’s how I found my first apartment!)

Paying Rent/Gastos (Bills)

Rent in Spain can be with gastos includos or gastos no incluidos. So, either your bills are included in your rent or they aren’t. If they aren’t, ask about how much they will cost monthly to figure out how much you will truly be spending on housing each month.

How much? It varies. In Madrid, I know people pay anywhere from €300 to €600 a month rent including what they pay for bulls. Paying €300 will get you a small bedroom in a shared apartment and €600 would be your own small studio apartment. The average from what I have heard is about €400 a month for a normal (for Madrid) bedroom. Friends of mine outside of Madrid paid €200 all included. Really you should try not to spend more than half of your salary on rent. In Madrid we make €1000 a month and everywhere else in Spain makes €700 a month.

Some advice about paying rent…make sure, make sure, MAKE SURE that you are not living with people who are stealing your money! It seems simple to say, but with the language barrier and lack of knowledge about how renting an apartment works in Spain, people get screwed over big time. The tenants and the landlords, to be honest. For every five housing stories with happy endings, there are 15 horror stories.

Make sure you read your lease, know what they will take out of your security deposit and make sure that you know what you are paying for. Also, make sure you are getting what you paid for. Most bedrooms will vary in price within each apartment, if you are in the smallest room and paying the most there is definitely a problem. Try not to open an internet account or any account in your name. The contracts are always at least one year and do you really want to pay for internet for 12 months when you will probably only live in your apartment for 9? Just a thought. Later on you will be posting on the auxiliar page saying “do I really need to pay this? I am going back to america anyways.”

Last but not least, when you pay rent each month, you need to pay your money directly into a bank account and make sure you know WHO the bank account belongs to and ALWAYS ALWAYS keep evidence of what you have paid. ALL of the receipts you get from the banks are the ONLY proof you have that you have paid. Try NOT to pay in cash, because if you pay in cash there is no proof that you ever actually paid it.

Leases (Contratos)

You don’t want a two-year lease. Simple as that. Honestly, you don’t want even a one-year lease. It’s a bitch to find a sublet. Sign a lease but make sure your lease has an out or even that your lease ends when you plan on leaving Spain. Most want at least a 6 month commitment, which is totally doable as an auxiliar!

If you didn’t sign a lease, DON’T PAY A SECURITY DEPOSIT. If it’s not written down, they don’t have to give it back, and trust me, they WON’T give it back.

If you didn’t sign a lease you can move out whenever you want OR they can kick you out whenever you want, it goes both ways my friends.

Social security number, official documents, etc. be CAREFUL as to who you are giving the information to. Yes, you’ll probably have to give a photocopy of an ID, most likely your passport, however, no one wants a random photocopy of their passport floating around in the hands of someone else. If they don’t ask for it, don’t give it.

Where to Live/Commuting

Take a look at the public transit information for your city. Does it look like gibberish? I imagine so. This gibberish will become your life. Madrid has a great metro system, cercanias (trains) and the busses aren’t bad either. All Spanish cities have really reliable public transport. To be honest, Madrid isn’t THAT big either. You should be able to find yourself an apartment that lets you have under an hour commute.

WOAH, an HOUR commute?! That was my thought too. Really, an hour on the metro isn’t bad, you can get lost in Game of Thrones, just don’t forget to get off at your stop! Some people even have a 5 minute walk to school. It all depends on your school and the size of your city! Honestly though, don’t set yourself up for failure, if you know you can’t make it on time living an hour away, move to a different part of your city. Living by school is an option too! However, if you are an hour from your friends it makes it a lot more difficult to meet up for dinner. Especially at night when public transport stops at 2am. Sucks to be the one to have to leave early to catch the metro…or sucks to have to taxi it home when you just missed the last metro by minutes! or you could just take the metro home at 6am when it opens back up!

Sunrise walking to the metro in the morning when it opened back up!
Sunrise from Gran Via at 6 in the morning on the way to the metro to go home from a party!
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The city center of Madrid as a ghost town as I walked to the Metro at 6am!

Metro: Locate your school, find which metro stop you are at and which line your school is on and plant yourself in an apartment in the center that’s within easy walking distance of the metro line your school is on. For example, your school is off the red line but super far north. Try finding an apartment by the red line closer to the center, so you can metro to work but walk a short distance to meet up with friends. Not having to transfer lines could save your sanity on early morning commutes!
Cercanias: The train, takes you to the suburbs of Madrid (Getafe, Alcala de Hernares, etc). If you have to take the cercanias, you should try to live with an easy commute to Atocha to make your life easier!
Bus: In Madrid, there are city busses that are red or blue that stay within the city limits. Then there are green busses that leave from Principe Pio or Moncloa or wherever that take you to the suburbs that there may not be a train or metro! If this is your situation, live near the bus station!
Walking: Then there’s the lucky ones. Those that have their schools in the city center and can live there and walk a few minutes to school. Lucky ducks.
Biking: Within Madrid, I wouldn’t bike to work, the bike paths aren’t great. However, in other cities throughout Spain, such as Sevilla, there are great bike paths that you can easily and safely bike to work.
Car: In some towns, teachers live in the center and drive to their school if there is no good bus system to the school. This takes place more often in very small towns. You can contact your school and ask the teachers their schedule and maybe there is a spot for you in someones car. You’ll have to pay them but you will have a direct route from your home to work! Seems pretty good to me!

Things that are easily Overlooked

In Spain, their idea of what is included in the apartment isn’t exactly the same idea as what we would have in America. If you need an oven, make sure that your apartment has an oven. Some may have ovens that don’t work (you have to directly ask if the oven works sometimes, not even joking). Is there a microwave? Is there heating? In my old apartment we had radiators in all of the rooms except mine. The reasoning was that my bedroom was an interior bedroom so the cold from the street couldn’t reach my room. I thought the cold air came in through my window…either way, they bought me a mini heater. If your apartment is big, make sure the WIFI reaches your bedroom. They sell “repitidores de WIFI” for about 60 euro (In english maybe it’s called a transmitter, it’s to make the signal reach further). Also, if your bed is really uncomfortable, before you move in, let them know that a mattress pad is something you want included (Yes, you can do that).

I do know people who have complained that they don’t have paintings on the wall. However, I would take a toaster over a poster any day. Some other things you might want to ask…when is the last time they sprayed for cockroaches. Have they got bug problems? Do the neighbors play the piano really loudly? Really anything you can think of. You should ask the questions to the roommates if you see other roommates around, it’s probably the only way you will get the truth.

If you have any questions feel free to ask! I will help as much as I can! If you think I left out anything important in selecting apartment, let me know and I will update my post! Good luck on your apartment hunt, I will be starting again in a couple weeks too!

Kate

 

Hospital in Madrid

As much as it’s hard to believe, it does get cold in Madrid and with the change in weather comes sickness. Kids with runny noses, lots of booger picking, sneezing and coughing. So of course, I got sick. Does anyone want the story?

Basically the story ends in me paying out the ASS for treatments and never finding out what was wrong.

I suppose you can stop reading here because I just summed up the whole story for you. Here are the details (as much as I think is appropriate for the internet). For those of you who are sick and wondering what will happen to you if you go to the hospital here in Madrid.

One week I had to go to the bathroom a lot…(why does this happen to me?), so I went to a public health clinic here in Madrid and they more or less said, “If you don’t have a TARJETA SANITARIA (Public health insurance card), we aren’t going to help you”. This is something I don’t have. As an Auxiliar de Conversación, we are not part of the public health system. End of story. We aren’t. So that means that treatment that I receive has to be from a private hospital or clinic. Everyone has different insurance, mine is iNext. iNext functions as a SECONDARY insurance if you have insurance in the states. Lucky me…I have insurance in the states. Basically, I just dealt with it and felt awful for a while…luckily, it stopped the morning that I had to go to the extranjería for my TIE appointment. Grateful for not pooping on myself while waiting in a two hour line to apply to get my Spanish residency card #proudmoment…

Anyways, that passed but the following week I woke up with unreal stomach pains at 4am. I thought it was diarrhea again. It wasn’t. It was nausea and awful stomach pains. I just waited hoping it would go away. I didn’t want to go into an emergency room at a private hospital because I didn’t want to have to pay for it. I didn’t go to an emergency room at a public hospital because I didn’t want to get all the way there and have them tell me they can’t help because I don’t have a TARJETA SANITARIA. So what did I do?

Unidad Medica

Waited until 8 am, and called a clinic. The clinic I called was Unidad Medica. They gave me an appointment for 10am, I made my way there, yes, crying in the metro on my way. They gave me an IV with fluids and pain killer (not very strong pain killer either). They took blood, did a urine test and then told me that I needed an ultra sound and a CT Scan, BUT that I would need to go to a different clinic to get these tests done because at Unidad Medica they don’t have either of those machines. They suspected appendicitis or a UTI. They were very concerned that it was appendicitis and that my appendix could rupture at any second. Now, it was time to head to the clinic, but I had to pay before I left: €342.

Consult with doctor: €125
IV+Medication: €60
Blood test: €125
Urine test: €32

Well, that’s a lot. I paid it on my credit card. I asked about how much the CT scan and Ultra Sound would be. They said the CT scan would be about €800 and the Ultra sound €200. So, obviously there is no way that I am going to head to this other clinic just to get charged €1.000. I called Alana, one of the CIEE coordinators. She told me that I should get in contact with Hospiquality at Hospital of Madrid. Instead of going to the clinic that Unidad Medica recommended me for a CT Scan and Ultra Sound, I went to Hospital of Madrid to see the Hospiquality team.

Can you even follow what was going on? I hardly knew what was happening. All I knew was that they were not being very helpful.

Hospiquality at Hospital of Madrid

I got to Hospital of Madrid (which turned out to be about a 5 minute walk from my apartment) and we waited for my test results to be sent from Unidad Medica. I was still in pain and at this point its 2pm. We waited until 4pm for the test results to come in. They never came so I went home.

The next day (Tuesday), I went back to the hospital and had an appointment to read my test results. Urine test, all normal. Blood test, high white blood cell count and I still had weird stomach pains, he ordered me an emergency ultra sound and then charged me €125. Uhm hi, I’m still breathing and alive, and you just charged me €125 to spend 5 minutes with me. I am not doing anything “emergency” because if things are done “emergency” style, it costs more. So, we made an appointment for the next day for an ultrasound.

Well, now it’s Wednesday morning (IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY) and the doctor does an ultra sound. For €310, I got an ultra sound from a cranky ass doctor. She was mad because I was getting an “emergency” ultra sound done with an appointment and didn’t know why I wasn’t in the emergency room, she tells me to come back later for the results. Rude, it’s my birthday, you think I want to be here feeling awful? No.

Later, Wednesday evening, another doctor consultation to see the results of my ultra sound. What happens? Ultra sound shows inflamed appendix but nothing conclusive to say “we must operate right now”…he orders an emergency CT scan. He didn’t charge me for this appointment because I had been going back and forth and he felt bad for charging for 5 minute appointments when I was getting no results. Again, I am alive and breathing, not trying to have an emergency CT scan, thanks but no thanks. If I need it, it can wait for an appointment where I won’t have an extra “emergency” fee. The next available CT scan was the following Monday. I scheduled the appointment. I later cancelled it because I figured it’s either going to tell me that A. they need to remove my appendix or B. that there is nothing conclusive. Either way, I’m not trying to get an operation, so thanks, but no thanks.

Thursday evening, was supposed to fly to Mallorca and didn’t because I still felt awful. €90 down the drain.

The hospiquality staff are really nice and helpful overall.

So why did pay for all of these appointments? and why didn’t you use your iNext travel insurance to pay?

Because if you have primary insurance in the states (I am insured though my mom’s health care plan in the US), iNext functions as SECONDARY insurance. I have to file a claim with my insurance company then later, what my company doesn’t cover, iNext will cover. My insurance covers ABSOLUTELY nothing because both of the places I went to are out-of network (obviously, they are in Europe). I will receive an explanation of benefits and that explanation of benefits can be sent to iNext and they will (hopefully) reimburse me. As of yet, my primary insurance company has yet to process my claims. It’s been a couple months since the first claims were sent in. I hope to get it all figured out within the next year! Good thing its January!

Kate

Does everyone have their rubbers?

Does everyone have their rubbers?

I am not a professor or even, a teacher!

Ok, I admit it. I am not a professor or teacher (although my elementary school kids do call me “profe/teacher”). I am prancing around Europe pretending that I am a fancy schmancy English professor but it’s all lies. I work at a public bilingual elementary school in Madrid, Spain as an Auxiliar de Conversacion or a North American Language and Culture Assistant, they mean the same thing. They mean that I am an assistant to the teacher. I bring my “fancy schmancy” American English accent and my knowledge of the United States of America to work and that pretty much prepares me for what I have to do on a daily basis. I don’t write lesson plans unless it’s for a something special like a holiday (Halloween, Thanksgivng) and I don’t teach the class by myself. Alright, alright. So you aren’t preparing classes or in the class by yourself, you aren’t teaching alone and you aren’t in charge of any kids…

That has to be pretty easy then, right?

In comparison to other jobs, not gonna lie, you should be pretty jealous. However, one thing that I have learned about my job is that we are teaching British English to the kids. No, the kids don’t ask me if I want “a spot of tea” on a daily basis, but they do throw their “rubbish” in the “bin” instead of throwing their “garbage” in the “garbage can” and things of that nature. That being said, I have learned a lot in the last couple months.

Mostly, I have learned that I have been taught lies my whole life.

First of all I’ve learned the date. Today is: weekday, day of month, 2013.

It’s Tuesday, 12th of November, 2013. Not to be confused with Tuesday, November 12th, 2013. Also, you must add the word “of”, if not, you’re very much wrong because today can not be and never will be “Tuesday, 12, November, 2013”, nor will it be the “12st of November”, trust me, the options are endless with the combinations of these words. Don’t let them fool you. There is only one right answer and in Spain it’s not, Tuesday, November 12th, 2013.

It’s Autumn, not Fall.

If you ask one of my first graders what the season is, they will tell you, “The season is Autumn”, in the cutest british/american/spanish accent they can muster up and although you may hate that they don’t know the word Fall, you will appreciate that they understood the question.

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Also, the temperature outside is 48 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun is shining. For my first graders, that means it’s: sunny and COLD.

What? Since when is 48 degrees cold? is this because Madrid is the capital of the country and if Madrileños say 48 degrees is cold, then it must be cold, right? All I know is that these kids would be freezing if they were in the Midwest today, 19 degrees and snowing, now THAT’S cold!IMG_0691

So, these kids are learning all sorts of fun things (the weather, the date, etc), do they pay attention? What are Spanish kids like at school?

Pay attention? We’re talking about 6-year-old here. All I know is that they love their rubbers, their pencil sharpeners and really anything inside of their pencil cases.

I think one day, a girl spent an entire one hour class period sharpening all of her crayons. Another day a different girl spent a 45 minute class period erasing. Just…erasing. Why didn’t the teacher stop them? I don’t know. Sometimes things just happen, and if a kid is quiet and peaceful while sharpening all of her crayons, why not leave her to it? I think that must be the mentality at least.

Lets talk about the contents of pencil cases.If you have a pencil case, you are basically set to spend the whole day playing with your school supplies, why? Because it’s fun.

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First, there are no erasers in Spain. You must “rub it out” with your “rubber”. Yes, Teachers do tell kids to “rub it out”, it’s a British thing.

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Also, a hard days work may include sharpening all of your crayons and pencils.

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Oh no! The teacher caught a kid playing with school supplies. What happens? Do they get sent to the Principals office? Nope, no principal. They have to go stand by a green dot on the wall.IMG_0710

Or if they were talking, they may be sent to the corner with a mask…

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Later on, the kid may have to pee. They will ask,”May I go to the toilet please?”. They don’t mean to be rude by asking for the toilet, they would like the restroom, which just so happens to be where the toilet is located.

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So, the kids have talked about the date and the weather, they’ve played with their school supplies and then asked to go to the bathroom. Where does the learning come in?

Here, with Max and Susie! Max and Susie are two British characters that are full of all sorts of fun phrases and songs. Phrases include, “What’s this?”, “It’s a ball”, “These are pencils”, etc. Songs include, “I can sing a rainbow” or “Days of the Week”. My life pretty much revolves around Max and Susie while I am working. Our goal as auxiliares is to get all of our kids to remember and understand all of Max and Susie’s fun phrases and songs!

Is this Tiny Ted? Yes, it is! Phew, mystery solved.
This specific exercise is meant to focus on “Is this your____?” “Yes it is” or “No it isn’t”

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Now, what sort of grammatical things are taught to first graders? They are taught many things, but let me tell you about some things they are taught incorrectly.

They are taught to say, “My favorite toy is THE ______” instead of saying, “My favorite toy is A/AN _____” or “My favorite toy is MY _____”

The teachers are very tough about the kids using the word “THE” when stating their favorite toy. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert but if a kid said “my favorite toy is my bike”, I would be happy. Even if they said “My favorite toy is an iPad”, it makes sense. What doesn’t have the correct sound for me is when a child says, “My favorite toy is the car.” I suppose in a book somewhere (in England), it must say that’s correct, it just doesn’t sound right spoken!

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Another thing they are strict about, when there is an apostrophe (they call it a “stroke”), the letters that are separated CANNOT touch.

Please notice the minuscule space between the letters. This is real life. I definitely need to go and re-write everything I have ever hand written apparently, because I haven’t put a space between the letters that were divided by the apostrophe!

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What is your teaching experience like? Have many things surprised/confused/shocked you? Have you had the same experiences that I have had?

Kate

Em pa dro na mi en to. Do re mi fa so la ti do, so do?

Em pa dro na mi en to. Do re mi fa so la ti do, so do?

I live in Madrid, why do I have to prove it? and how?

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Yes, I live in Madrid. Yes, I work in Madrid. Now, I just have to prove it to the Ayuntamiento with some simple paperwork. If I am able to prove that I live here, I will get a certificate of empadronamiento! But wait, what is the Ayuntamiento anyways and why do they want me to have a certificate of empadronamiento? Why would I tell them that I live in Madrid if I don’t? this paperwork is seeming a little unnecessary. Well, the ayuntamiento is a part of the Spanish government of course, and I have read that it can be translated as town hall. The certificate of empadronamiento states that you are living here in Madrid, simply put, they are counting us. They don’t care if you are legal or not, they just want to know if you are living here.

Then you ask yourself, “wait, am I even empadronada (or whatever the equivalent would be) with my town hall in the states?”

The answer,”no idea, but, wait?! I have to go to a Spanish town hall? Where people want me to fill out paperwork in Spanish? and then later use this paperwork for something really important (my TIE) that I also don’t fully understand?” This is crazy! So, how do I prove to them that I really am living in my piso in Madrid? Well, you can prove it with qualifying paperwork! Perfect! You will get the Padrón Municipal (Alta por cambio de residencia desde otro municipal)Screen Shot 2013-11-03 at 2.17.09 PM

Wait, I don’t have any of the qualifying paperwork.

In my particular situation I don’t have a rental contract, I don’t have fixed bills in my name, none of my roommates are empadronado in Madrid (they are from other parts of spain). Please note how this says “today persona que viva en España está obliged…”…I am not 100% fluent in Spanish but I am pretty sure that means that everyone is obligated to do this.  However, my Spanish roommates have not done this, and that’s a whole different issue. Anyways, you get the idea. I basically looked at all of the documentation that qualified and said, well, I guess that is the end to my time abroad, should just start packing now. I legitimately don’t have any of this qualifying paperwork.

Well, well, “qualifying” paperwork here in Spain is arbitrary my friend.

So you are telling me that this paperwork may or may not be necessary depending on the specific ayuntamiento I go to or the government worker that I talk to? Yes, yes I am. So, go through the list of documentación and check out what you need. You may or may not have it. Even if you don’t have all or any of the paperwork, make yourself an appointment.

Making an appointment

Make your appointment at any ayuntamiento online, here.
The ayuntamiento that you have the appointment at DOES NOT have to be in the same barrio that you will be empadronado in!
For example: I went to the ayuntamiento in Chamberí for the appointment but I am actually empadronada in Ciudad Lineal. Really, wherever you can find an open appointment is great. So, choose a location that has an available appointment on the day you want to go.

Here is a list of the documentation that you need to bring to your appointment:

English version from the AngloINFO Madrid page:

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Spanish from the Spanish governments website:
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I believe the most important part is the “documento que acredite el uso de la vivienda”…that is the “proof of address”, the rental contract, fixed bill, deed, copy of leaseholders DNI, etc. This is where my stress kicked in. Woahhhh, I don’t have any of those documents. When I went to the appointment, I didn’t actually bring in a “document” that would have been the “proof of address”, I didn’t have one. I just brought a friend. If you don’t have proof of address, you can just bring in whoever you live with or whoever you want. I think as long as the address on their DNI matches the address that you put on your solicitud de empadronamiento, it will be fine.

Here is a list of ALL the paperwork that I brought in to my appointment:

1. Tramite – Solicitud de Empadronamiento (the form!)
2. Passport + 1 copy
3. A Spanish boy who signed my solicitud de empadronamiento.

Wait, seriously? Yes.

How did that qualify you? No idea.

Either way, I am now empadronada in Madrid, and I will use this piece of paper for my NIE appointment! The address that I am empadronada at will be the same address that I use for my NIE paperwork, Also, if they ask you if you want two copies of your empadronamiento, say yes! Because you will give one of the copies up at your NIE appointment! It doesn’t hurt to have two originals!

Was it this easy for you to get your empadronamiento? Tell me about your experience!

Suerte,

Kate

Alternative Creative Youth Home: Ronda de la Universitat 17, Barcelona, España

Alternative Creative Youth Home: Ronda de la Universitat 17, Barcelona, España

You want to stay at a hostel while in Barcelona? I did!

Try the Alternative Creative Youth Home.

Yes, the name of the hostel almost made me a little bit nervous. Does it make you nervous too?

Let’s be honest, the words “alternative and creative” mixed with “youth home” makes me think of 17 and 18 year olds partying. Plus, my sister who has never stayed at a hostel before was pretty sure we were staying at a center for troubled adolescents. Apparently we don’t get out much.

However, the price was right so I went on and read the reviews on Hostel World.

The reviews were phenomenal and the hostel lived up to the reviews.Let me share with you some highlights of the hostel.

It is very easy to find

We took the Aerobus from the airport to Plaza Catalunya (The last stop on the Aerobus). The bus dropped us off at the plaza and the street “Ronda Universitat” across the plaza to the right. Basically if you could walk through the two fountains from the bus you would arrive to Ronda Universitat. If you find yourself in the center of the plaza (because hey, you just arrived to Barcelona and Plaza Catalunya looks like a perfect photo op), situate yourself facing the two big fountains, with El Corte Ingles on the right, take a picture of your friend in front of the fountains and then go to the left towards La Caixa and you’ll find Ronda Universitat. Walk all the way down Ronda Universitat. Number 17 is on the right (its a huge door, is NOT labeled as hostel, you press the gold button to ring to the hostel).

Go left when facing these fountains to get to Ronda Universitat!
Go left when facing these fountains to get to Ronda Universitat!

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It is in a great location, here are some very accessible things:

1. Plaza Catlunya which includes Metro Catalunya (L3). The green line that Catalunya is on can take you to the funicular (to have a view of Barcelona from the sky), barrio Poble Sec (for some great tapas) and to the Magic Fountain (to see the light show.

2. Metro Universitat (L2). The purple line that leads to the Sagrada Familia. After the Sagrada Familia you can walk to Park Güell…good luck…it’s up…and up some more.

3. The famous “La Rambla”, obviously for taking pictures, browsing the trinkets and looking at the people who are dressed up. La Rambla also leads to the beach!

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The beds were comfortable with good blankets

I have slept on many uncomfortable beds while living in Europe and these beds turned out to be relatively great. I was surprised that I got a decent nights sleep. On the reviews on hostel world a few people did complain about the beds, maybe those people who thought these beds were bad have had great luck with hostel beds in the past, for me, these beds were great!

bedACYH

Great WIFI & Apple computers

The WIFI has great signal and there are three FAST computers for communal use! I never had to wait for a computer and the computers had fast internet connection and they were just plain fast. I love updated technology! In reference to the WIFI, it could be that this hostel is kind of small, so the WIFI reaches everywhere, but I was very happy that my phone never had to search for the WIFI and it didn’t lose the signal either! **I wasn’t in the hostel often and didn’t use WIFI for long periods of time, so I am not sure how great it would be for long periods of use**

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It has a kitchen and a fridge!

Cook yourself some food!

BIGGEST ASSET:
Fabulous staff

The staff were very friendly and helpful. They have advice for just about anything you need. Plus I think about a million brochures and maps in the hostel to give you even more help. If you need anything from them, just ask.

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Now, I know I can’t always be positive so let me share some downfalls of the hostel.

No breakfast included
Rooms are cramped with no sunlight (even during the day)!
Bathrooms aren’t the cleanest, but I have seen way worse!
Lockers are outside of the room…the room is too small to have lockers inside!

BIGGEST DOWNFALL (for me):

Give up passport as collateral for the locker key. Yikes! I don’t stay at many hostels but this is the only place I have had to do this. Made me very uneasy.

These downfalls are honestly not that bad. Just somethings that I noticed, they didn’t bother me too much but still noticeable. It would have been nice to have even a basic breakfast, some sunlight in the room during the day (or just some fresh air), and I wouldn’t have minded locking up my own passport instead of trusting it with the staff.

Hope this review helps you when you are in search of a hostel in Barcelona!

Safe Travels,

Kate

“Rules” of the Metro

“Rules” of the Metro

The Metro

In general, public transport frightens me and being that I am new to public transport, I like to observe everyone around me and everything that they do. Let me introduce you to the people of the metro, first of all, there are loads of them and all of them are gross. Including me most days. They smell like sweat or cigarettes, they cough into their hands and then touch the poles you are supposed to hold on to, sometimes they even cough on you. Not to mention they are overall just loud; they talk to each other, they talk on the phone, they listen to music that you can hear from their headphones. Then they bump into you, step on your toes or just sit really close to you.

You will be sure to see some stereotypical people while on the metro, there’s always “the couple in love”, “the guy who’s late to work”, “the reader”, “the starer” (lots of those), “the candy crush player”, and many more. Not to mention, depending what line you get on, there are people begging for money. They will give you a whole life story and then try to sell you tissues or just ask for money. Good luck.

Now that I have introduced you to the people you may or may not be riding on the metro with, let me tell you a bunch of rules they all abide by with or without knowing it.

1. If you hear or see the train coming, you must run to it.

This is the only time you will see Spaniards in a hurry, I promise. If there is no way of knowing whether the train is coming then a slow stroll is all that is necessary. So, if you are like me and want to walk fast between trains, in case the train may be close, you need to find a way to get ahead of these slow walking Spaniards, this leads me to rule number two.

2. If you are smart, you wait at the correct part of the train to exit at the appropriate door.

Now, this is not as easy as it seems. It takes practice remembering which door to be at and it changes for every stop in every direction, sometimes you have to be in the middle, sometimes all the way to the left other times all the way to the right. The people who have mastered this are your “guys who are late to work”. These are the Spaniards who have to be to work on time and they are not fucking around. Maybe they aren’t late but they just know that they want to save themselves commute time. I completely agree with them. They have calculated exactly which door to stand at and probably will catch their next train in the last second, that you will miss because you didn’t wait at the right door and then will arrive to work about ten minutes earlier than if they had been at the wrong end of the train. Added bonus, if you do this, it gets you ahead of the game and you don’t have to fight the crowd that is squishing onto the escalator. Squishing onto the escalator can add about five minutes onto your commute time, imagine if you have to take three or four escalators like at La Latina or Avenida de La Ilustracion. You better get yourself to the right door!

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Jean jacket guy, with his hand on the button, ready to dip the fuck out.

3. You must be occupied

There’s no such thing as day dreaming in the metro. If you are not with friends, you must be doing something solitary. This includes but is not limited to doing things on your phone such as texting, playing candy crush or talking to someone. Reading anything, a book, magazine or “20 minutos” which is the metros newspaper. Finally, if you aren’t using your phone or reading, just plain staring at someone will suffice. Seriously though, these are the only things you are allowed to be doing on the metro, end of story.

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4. You must avoid sitting by people at all costs

The minute someone sitting next to you leaves, you must scoot over to the corner seat.

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5. You must not be happy

If you are alone in the metro you are unhappy. That is the rule. When you are with friends you may laugh and chatter and have a ball, but when you are by yourself you have to hate your life, even if you don’t hate your life, you have to appear to hate your life.

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6. Your feet cannot stick out

Simple. Your feet have to be in! People are constantly getting on and off the metro, so watch out!

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For now, these are the rules that I have noticed in the metro. Have you noticed anything else? Have you noticed any of these things?

Katelan

ALSA 101: Avenida de America (Madrid)

ALSA 101: Avenida de America (Madrid)

You want to leave Madrid by bus?

ALSA is a great bus company that gets you to a million random cities within Spain and even to random countries! I mean…not like I would ever want to take an ALSA bus to Italy from Madrid, but at least I have that option, right? The thing about busses is that in general, they suck. I mean, you have to get to the station, wait for the bus to arrive (usually on time though!), sit in a confined space with smelly people for extended periods of time. It’s always too hot or too cold. Not to mention, people like to leave their ringers on loud so you can hear EVERY time they receive a call/text/whatsapp…whatever it may be! That being said, I actually really like ALSA, minus the fact that they are a bus company, they are great! (ha. ha. ha) Anyways, I may seem like a hater and don’t get me wrong, I totally am but by that I mean, there’s nothing good about long distance travel in a bus. That being said, I definitely use ALSA and would recommend ALSA for reasonably priced, short distance travel. I like it because you can buy tickets at the last minute and they are reasonably priced (compared to AVE or a plane ticket or whatever other option you have).

Advantages:

Cheap
Last minute tickets usually available

Disadvantages:

Time consuming
Time consuming (seriously…)
Smelly

Now that you have heard what I like and dislike about bus travel, let me give you some advice as to the basics of using ALSA bus travel in Madrid. There are a few things you have to do (or things I recommend that you do) before physically getting on the bus. Also, I included some details as to how to physically get to the bus station in Avenida de America from the Metro (because seriously, how is the metro on level -3, that’s scary as fuck).

Little girl in the big city (It’s a work in progress)

So, before I go any further. I have to be honest. For the longest time I didn’t understand public transport whatsoever (Uhm, my car and GPS on my phone get me everywhere I need to be in the states, so don’t hate). Let me enlighten you as to some examples of my personal failed metro usage. In Barcelona in 2010, I thought we needed to go to Trinidad Nova (aka the end of the line). Wrong. We had to go in the DIRECTION of Trinidad Nova. Please, just get off at your stop. Then, summer 2011, I accidentally got my friends and I all the way to the Bronx in NYC, instead of to the 9/11 Memorial. So after those fiascos, I think I have officially learned how to use public transport! It is very sad that my friends from ISA are not here to see how far I have come! 
 
Anyways, I swear I made it to my dock at Avenida de America in Madrid all by myself (and very proudly) and if I can do it, so can you!

Things to do to get yourself out of Madrid on an ALSA bus: 

1. Get an ALSA BusPlus Card (NOT the credit card). Just the card that gives you points and after a certain amount of trips, you get a free ride! 

I don’t have an actual card, I got mine at the Avenida de America ALSA location and the worker said that mine is now connected to my passport so when I use my passport number it will also be using my BusPlus Card and giving me points. I’m kind of skeptical as to how it works that way but I guess I will find out in the future and its not like it hurts me to have it!
 
Side note: EVERYONE goes to ALSA around 6 p.m. during the week days. You have to take a number, I got my number and waited over an hour! I guess they are open until 2 in the morning. So really, I think anytime that isn’t considered “rush hour” would be a great time to go. I think between 5:00pm and 8:00pm you will have about an hour wait (unless you have an immediate problem then you can get in faster but not THAT fast). People were saying things like, “PERDONA, alguien puede cambiar números?!” And crying and being crazy. Anyways, youll see that people get a little desperate when they missed a bus or need to change a ticket at the last minute, so don’t be that person! If you are patient, you can spend as long as you want up there at the counter, it’s totally normal to spend like 20 minutes shooting the shit with the ALSA worker (out of the 50 people who were called before me at least 20 were up at the counter for a good 15 minutes). I am glad there were so many workers at the time! However, you have waited your turn so you deserve some time to shoot the shit, disfrutalo! The workers are very nice and helpful (at least mine was)!

2. Decide where you want to leave from and where you want to go! 

From Madrid: Avenida de America or Estacion sur. 
To: wherever! If its a journey over 6 hours try to get a night bus as to not waste time in the bus during the day…or take the AVE or an airplane! However, bus is more economical
 
*Keep in mind how far each station is from your home. For me Avenida de America is 30 minutes and Estacion sur is an hour. So, depending where I am going, my journey in the actual bus would be one hour shorter from Estacion Sur, I prefer to leave from Avenida de America because in the long run, it takes less time because I don’t have to get all the way to Estacion sur (I live in the north of Madrid). Also, I am not positive but I think all the busses will pass through both Madrid stations. Mine went from Avenida de America to Estacion Sur and then we left Madrid!

3. Buy your ticket. You have many choices as to where to make this purchase:

A. Internet: BUT it won’t take American credit cards (at least for me it wouldn’t)…I tried 2 different American credit cards and an American debit card. It said something about the bank won’t accept it…whatever ALSA!
B. ALSA ticket counter at Avenida de America (or any bus station)…be prepared for a line!
C. ALSA automated machines at Avenida de America (or any bus station)
D. Anywhere else that you know of that I don’t!

4. Figure out how to get to your bus station (Here are directions to Avenida de America).

It’s so easy! I promise. First figure out which metros can get you to Avenida de America. I started off at Barrio del Pilar which the number 9 (purple) metro line.
Barrio del Pilar Metro Entrance
Barrio del Pilar Metro Entrance
I took number 9 (purple) in the direction of Arganda del Rey. As you can see, Avenida de America will be one of the stops on this line and that is where I will get off. Metro lines 4 (brown), 6 (grey) and 7 (orange) also go straight to Avenida de America. One thing to note is that on this sign it doesn’t say anything about “Terminal Autobuses”, you’ll start seeing those signs once you arrive at Avenida de America.
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So, get off the metro when you arrive at Avenida de America and you will begin to see signs for “Salida, Terminal Autobuses”, follow the signs. If you can’t understand that Terminal Autobuses is the bus station then there is a nice picture of a bus to the right to ensure you are going the right way. FOLLOW THE BUSSES!
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I am already very much a rubita and obviously don’t belong in Spain, so no harm in being a weirdo who is taking pictures while walking from the metro to the bus station! Also, the picture below is where things start getting weird. So pay attention to where you are going!
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DON'T EXIT HERE! Go left before this exit to the docks!
DON’T EXIT HERE! This will take you to the street. Go left before this exit (to the docks)!

If you did it right, you have made it to the ALSA counters and not to the street!

ALSA counters
ALSA counters

Look left into the little room and see the schedule (tells you which dock to go to) as well as the little number stand (Feel free to take a number if you need something, it might be a while though!)

Find out what dock your bus will be at!
Find out what dock your bus will be at!
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Take a number and WAIT if you need anything!
Lastly, go find your dock!
Lastly, go find your dock!
Success!
Success!

To be honest, it’s not that complicated but right now there is some construction so it’s kind of weird under there. Follow the signs and you’ll do fine! Suerte!

Katelan

Turning $$$ into €€€

Turning $$$ into €€€

How do I turn my American money into…not American money?

As you all may know by now, I like to do my research. I like to try different ways of doing things to see which is the most effective. Before I have a paycheck that will be in Euros, I need to get Euros out of my American bank account, which really sucks because my American bank account (like all of your American bank accounts) does not technically have Euros in it. That means that I need to find out which method of taking money out gets me the most money…for my money. 

There are many different ways of converting money and I have not tried them all but here are some ways that I have tried so far. I will promise to update this with other ways of converting money too. What I did was take out 250€ in various different ways to see how much American money was taken out of the account. The hard part in telling which way is the most effective is that the exchange rate varies from day to day so taking out money is kind of a gamble. One day you could get a decent exchange rate and another day you could get an awful exchange rate. It’s like a game of chance, which is really great for those of us who have luck on our side…a.k.a. not me which means that I always pick the days with the worst exchange rates to get out money! Definitely not intentionally…the world hates me. I have come to terms though. Here are some options as to how you can turn your $$$ into €€€. Here is a graph as to what the exchange rates were from Aug 7, 2013 to Sept 5, 2013…US Dollar to Euro Exchange Rate Graph - Aug 7, 2013 to Sep 5, 2013

1. “Buy” Euros from your bank in the US

250€=$354.40 on August 25, 2013

Pros: easy and fast
Cons: you have to carry around a bunch of euros (depending on how much you get out)

The word buy is sort of strange because I mean, you are technically buying money…with other money. Strange concept. This is pretty simple. Go to your bank (assuming that there is money in the account) and tell them how many Euros you want. Like I stated earlier, I will be getting out 250€ each time so that I can see the differences in cost when it goes through on my american bank account, and so that I can cry a lot when I see that 250€ is ALOT OF AMERICAN DOLLARS! AHHHH!. Anyways, the bank will charge you whatever sort of fees they have at the bank, the nice bank lady or man will give you the details and you will want to cry again because exchange rates are not really exchange rates…they are more like starting rates and then wherever you exchange the money, they will add some extra fees just for fun and then you can come back in a few days to get your Euros. It’s like…expensive magic…voila…your american dollars just became euros!

2. US PayPal to Spanish PayPal (NOT INSTANT GRATIFICATION)
250
€=$339.47 on September 6, 2013

Pros: No money to carry around…it jumps from bank to bank (more magic)
Cons: Not that easy…not that fast

I think I had a better price because I had a better exchange rate this day.

Requirements to do this:
-US PayPal linked to a US bank account (Country must be US in order to link to US bank account)
-Spanish PayPal linked to a Spanish bank account (Country must be Spain in order to link to Spanish bank account)***
-Accounts MUST be linked to two separate e-mails
-The country is important because US banks are set up differently than Spanish banks (the routing numbers and such are different)

***Once you have your Spanish bank account, you may then and ONLY then set up your Spanish PayPal. You cannot set up a PayPal prior to having a bank account. Once your bank account is confirmed THEN you may do your PayPal transfer.

How to:

1. Log into your US PayPal and click “send money”, type in the e-mail of your Spanish PayPal account, the amount (SELECT EUROS!) and that you are sending to a friend. Either way you will pay a fee, so either your American PayPal can pay the sending fee or your Spanish PayPal can pay the receiving fee. I made my American self pay the fee. My fee was €1.25 because I am doing bank to bank. Then click “continue”.

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2. After clicking “continue” this is what you get…It tells you on your US PayPal how much it will cost you in USD to send to your Spanish PayPal. Click “send money”…Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 1.18.29 AM

3. Then it confirms that you have officially sent money to yourself! Congrats! Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 1.20.43 AM

4. Log into your Spanish PayPal just to double confirm…yup…pending transaction! Please feel free to admire your own handiwork because it really wasn’t easy to set up your Spanish bank account then Spanish PayPal.Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 1.21.01 AM

5. Give yourself a pat on the back, oh and check your e-mail…don’t forget to write yourself a cute note to go along with the money you are sending yourself (think of it as a note that your mom would write and put in your lunchbox)Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 2.21.34 AM

6. Once your money arrives to your paypal, TRANSFER it to your Spanish bank account (It takes a few days for the money to arrive to paypal and then transferring money to your Spanish bank account from your Spanish paypal also takes a couple days). Withdraw & transfer to bank account! 

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A quick thought:

All of the individual transactions can take a while…it took a little over 24 hours to get my Spanish bank account confirmed with PayPal (which were two deposits of less than 20 cents). Then it took another 48 hours to get the money confirmed into my PayPal account THEN another 24 hours to get the money confirmed in my Spanish bank account. 

HOWEVER, if you are transferring LARGE sums of money this will definitely be the way to do it!

Hope this helps,

Katelan

Si, quiero datos.

Si, quiero datos.

Choosing your choices for a Spanish cell

There are a few options for cell phone carriers here in Spain and being that I like lots of information about all the options I have for everything, I went to a few different companies to ask about what options they had for a SIM for an iPhone 5.

In the U.S., we all like to have UNLIMITED everything. So then you can just be on your phone constantly and social interactions are unnecessary. Who needs social interaction when you can browse Pinterest all hours of the day via their mobile app? NOBODY, that’s who!

So, being that my mom isn’t paying for my cell phone, I don’t want to spend 39€ + IVA each month for unlimited Spanish everything.

I chose to get a SIM prepago.

BECAUSE

I can cancel whenever
Not over 20€ a month (hey, 20€ is ALOT of American dollars)
An amount of calls/data/texting that I will not exceed (plus I am not allowed to)

Basics of Prepago

No signing a contract (great if you don’t know how long you are living in Spain)
Can be very cheap (especially if you don’t want a data plan)
You can create realistic expectations for cell phone usage for yourself
You cannot go over because you have to have “suelto” to pay for things that aren’t in your plan

Basics of Contracts

First things first, if you sign a contract, it is like giving up rights to your first born child, haha.
Most are 24 months, some are 18 (Expect to have to keep the contract for its entire duration)
Most require that you have at least 6 months with a Spanish bank account
Can potentially be the cheapest option if you do it right and if you don’t cancel in the middle of the plan
If you go over, they will let you (no “suelta”…it just adds up on your bill)

I may be a little off on some of my facts because I only know the basics. But think of it this way. Give yourself realistic expectations as to how much you will use your phone.

1 gigabite is sufficient
1,000 + SMS should be more than enough
100 minutes should also be more than enough (all incoming calls are free)

Personally, my SIM doesn’t have calls included. I have the Orange Ballena plan. I have 1,000 SMS and 1 gigabite of data. I cannot make calls unless I add suelto, and I am not going to add suelto because…It’s not like I can understand Spanish over the phone! hahaha…but seriously…everyone uses Whatsapp (which uses data) and in the states I really only talk on the phone when I am driving. Here I don’t drive. So I haven’t even thought of needing to make a call. Anyone I would need to call, I can just text or whatsapp.

KEEP IN MIND: THE FINE PRINT

There are many plans with “international calls” included BUT look at the fine print. There is a plan that has international calling included BUT the calls are only to landlines…I can’t think of anyone I would call in the states who still has a landline.

ALSO, if your calls aren’t included and you DO want to make calls. There is a CONNECTION fee + IVA + however much per minute. So if it says ,01 cent per minute. It really probably means 1,20 to “connect” then ,01 + IVA per minute which would end up being like ,20 cents a minute. So that can add up REALLY fast!

Again. If you are paying ,10 cents per text…send 50 texts and all the sudden you  just added 5 euro to your bill when you could probably get a plan for 5 euro more that includes unlimited texts or something.

LASTLY. All plans will say…9 euro/mes + IVA or 15 euro/mes + IVA. So basically add 3 or 4 euro for IVA and THAT is what your bill really be.

My bill is 12 euro/mes + IVA= 15 euro/mes! 

Orange Orange

Katelan

 

The Nun vs. The Dad

The Nun vs. The Dad

Next stop, Madrid!

ORD Before MadridMy mom and I arrived at the airport, checked my bag (22kg!), she took a blurry picture of me and then we said our good-byes. I then went through security with my personal item and carry-on that did not meet Iberia weight limit standards. From the ticket counter, through security and on to the plane, they never once checked the weight of my carry-on, even though supposedly there is a weight restriction. That was a weight lifted off of my shoulders! I got to my gate, charged up my cell a bit and me up with another member of my program named Joe, before I knew it, we were boarding! The flight was packed and all I was thinking about was that I sure wouldn’t be able to find a spot in an overhead bin for my carry-on. Not to mention, it exceeds the weight limit so it is really heavy. I definitely understand the weight limit rule for carry-ons but I was too busy abiding by the checked bag weight limit rule and it’s impossible to follow every rule all at once!

IMG_4983So, the first thing that you do when you get onto an airplane is scope out the overhead bins so that you can store your carry-on and get into your own seat and out of the way. I looked up at the overhead bins and said something to the effect of, “How the fuck is my carry-on going to fit up there?” I am not sure exactly what I said but I know I said “fuck” because a second later I looked down and saw a nun smiling up at me and thought to myself “Fuck, I just said fuck in front of a nun”, then I thought “Oh fuck, she probably just heard me think the word fuck because she’s a nun and nun’s do weird scary voo doo shit like that” Then I thought, “Oh no, I am going to hell and there is no way in hell I can sit by a nun for eight hours.”

 Either way, Joe put my overweight carry-on into the open bin across from my seat and I went to sit down and the nun asked me to switch seats with her  “sister”, who isn’t really her sister but is her nun sister (Not to be confused with the way my friend Olaide uses the word sister). Really, I think people just throw around the word sister and at this point who knows what the word sister really means. Anyways, now my nun is smiling and nodding and pointing to her sister who is eight rows back (and my luggage is already in the overhead bin right by my seat). I am debating giving my seat to the nun’s sister and also debating how I am going to get my carry-on down and doubting that there will be any room for it in an overhead bin down by the nun’s sister’s seat. Why me?! As I am thinking all of this, a man asks me to switch with him because his young children just so happen to be in the seat across the aisle from my nun and myself. Seriously? A man to be with his children or a nun? Cute smiling children or a cute smiling nun? Seriously, so serious. Not to mention, I don’t want to sit by a nun nor did I want to be responsible for these kids (what if they were crazy psycho kids who screamed and cried and did whatever crazy psycho kids do?)

Why is so much happening at once? I just want to move to Europe in peace, why, world? Why?

Then, a woman chimes in and says, “The man should be by his kids.” THANK-YOU! My thoughts exactly, but are you legally allowed to say no to a nun? No idea. Either way, I did not want to sit by her. She could probably see my sins just by looking at me (glad I followed my own advice and didn’t wear a boobie shirt in the airplane because I definitely don’t think the nun wanted any cleavage to go with my expletive). Either way, kids definitely should sit by their parents on airplanes, not to mention, I wasn’t about to comfort them in a time of need. So, I switched with the man and he got to be closer to his kids (who turned out to be very cute and well-mannered and I got to watch the man lovingly reach across the aisle and put blankies back over them when they fell off and help them to open their snacks, adorable). Then, I got a bonus! To sit by the woman who swayed my decision! She was heading back to her home in Israel after being in the states to go to Burning Man. I also got to sit by a guy who is about to begin a 6-week back packing trip through Europe. They are way cooler than I am. Jealousy. Needless to say, I don’t think I would have had the same conversations with the nun or the children, if any at all.

The dad helping out his twin boys. *heart melts*
The dad helping out his twin boys. *heart melts*

Some would say that people who MUST sit by the people they are travelling with should talk to the travel company rather than imposing and forcing others out of their seats. Personally, I don’t care, as long as I don’t have to sit next to someone who smells, it doesn’t really matter. Anyone who is willing to listen to me talk would be my ideal flight-mate. A nun or kids probably wouldn’t have been great flight mates, so I am happy that I switched seats. A big thanks to Tyler and Anat for keeping me entertained on our flight!

Anat_Tyler_Collage
Anat & Tyler

What would you have done in my situation? Who would you have chosen and why? Maybe you could be grateful for the people you weren’t originally going to sit next to!

Katelan