Laying the Ground Work

Authored by:
Diamond W.

Diamond W.

    It is surreal to think that a month of living in Madrid has come and gone. It feels surreal, mostly because I completely underestimated all that is involved in building a new life abroad. The excitement, exhaustion, and never ending appointments that needed to be made, has left me in survival mode. It was only in the last week of September that I was able to sit back, relax, and recognize all that I have accomplished. I would love to go into detail about the first month's journey, but it would become a mini novel. So instead I will break it up into weekly segments with pictures to add some color!

Week 1 -The Introduction: Landing in Adolfo  Suárez Madrid airport, early Monday morning, all the September 5th participants were greeted by brightly orange t-shirted CIEE leaders to escort us to the bus that would take us to Hotel Charmatin. The hotel was located in the north of Madrid at one of the major metro center hubs, Estación de Madrid-Chamartín-Clara Campoamor. 
    After checking in and dropping my things off at my hotel room, two other CIEE participants and I were hungry for both exploration and food. So we did both! We took the metro and walked to have a late lunch at Al Remate- a beautiful and delicious introduction to Spanish cuisine, and it wet our appetites for more spanish delights in the future. Afterwards we walked around the neighborhood for a little while and tried our best to stay up to beat the looming jet lag we knew was coming.

     The next two days in the hotel we had morning orientation, which gave us the information we needed on how to properly live our lives and do our jobs. In the afternoon we spent time in our orientation groups to explore Madrid and make appointments for our Abono card, TIE, and CDNS. I was fortunate enough to have made my appointment for my Abono card back in the States through an Auxiliares friendly website called By Thursday I had my card and was able to travel throughout all of Madrid. The week of CIEE orientation ended with a rooftop party. During the weekend, everyone did their own individual activities but the majority began the headache inducing hunt for a place to live.

Week 2 -The Hunt for Lodging: We had to depart the hotel on Monday morning by 11am and find temporary lodging on our own, while we began the search for places to live. I chose to pick an Airbnb in a neighborhood that I thought I would like to live in. It was located in Lavapiés brightly colored, diverse, and high energy part of Madrid. During this week, I visited 10 apartments in total before I found the one I wanted. My apartment is located in Gran Via/     Malasaña, at the heart of the city center and a 3 minute walk from two metro stops. My apartment also came fully furnished with an oven, stove, fridge, and balcony. I was able to move into my apartment that Friday. Just in the nick of time because my airbnb stay was only for 5 days. More on the apartment hunt will be written in a later post.

Week 3-  Appointments: This week I went to three appointments, all in different parts of Madrid. Unfortunately, a lot of Madrid's legal paperwork has to be done in person. The only thing done online is the actual making of an appointment. This was a bit of a nuisance because I am used to uploading everything via the respective parties' websites back in the USA. My first appointment was for my empadronamiento. Here, one receives an informative document issued by the town hall that indicates one's residence and habitual address. I chose to get this paper before my TIE appointment because sometimes at your TIE appointment, they may or may not ask for this form. I never leave things up to chance, so I made sure to get the empadronamiento paper before my TIE appointment. Finding an appointment in itself was hard work because there were no openings for weeks unless you checked at 0830 every morning for cancellations. By the grace of God and intense finger scrolling, I got an appointment on Tuesday. I had to bring my passport, rental contract, and empadronamiento form.

      Thursday I went to my CDNS (Certificados de Delitos de Natureleza Sexual) appointment. This appointment is very important and needs to be done before the first day of school or one could not start working. It clears one to work with children. That appointment was early morning on Thursday and was a breeze. So much so that I questioned if everything was done correctly.Then, in the afternoon I went to my TIE appointment. TIE (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero) is a card that contains all the information and identity details for those living in Spain as a Spanish resident for a period longer than six months. During my appointment, the officer asked for my empadronamiento and I was so happy I had it!

Week 4- Week of Exhalation: This week I truly sat and digested all that I had accomplished. Moving from the USA, landing in Madrid, adjusting to time zones, opening a banking account, buying a cell phone plan, finding a place to live, and getting lost on the metro more times than I would like to admit. All while balancing culture shocks, language development, and dare I say, a little homesickness. So to reward myself, I took a day trip to Salamanca, a beautiful quaint city, home to the oldest and still active university in Spain . It was nice to experience a slower pace of life compared to Madrid and by chance, it was free entry day to a lot of their cultural centers!
     The rest of the week I became better acquainted with my neighborhood, did some shopping as the season began to change, hung out with friends, and began to prepare for work!                         

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