Moving, in general, is a big task. There are things to sort through, things to throw out or sell, things to pack up and move, utilities to set up, etc., the list is endless.
Now, try moving to a foreign country.
First, you have to obtain a Visa to be able to stay in a European country for more than 3 months. I wanted to get a work Visa so I can make money while I am there, but this proved to be almost impossible… the Spanish government really doesn’t want Americans working in their country, so pretty much the ONLY way you can work there is if you are working at a U.S. company that transfers you to a branch in Spain. Or, you can marry a Spaniard. Hmm, NOT SO FAST!! 🙂
Next, I looked into if it was possible to work freelance graphic design and photography as “my own company” but to get an “independent work visa” the Spanish government requires you to prove you have over $100,000.00 in savings. Um, nope, don’t have that! So my last route was to just sign up for some type of schooling and get over to Spain on a student Visa.
When looking for schooling, I chose the program that had the least amount of classes (all spanish language classes), and meantime I plan to do freelance work for people in the U.S. while I’m in Spain. Nice to have a job you can do from anywhere in the world with just a laptop and a phone, hey?
So now comes the process of getting a student Visa.
I guess I never realized just how many hoops you have to jump through — and that a foreign consulate makes you jump through — to get a Visa until I started this process. It’s kind of crazy what they request, and it makes you wonder, “Does the US make people go through this process to come to our country?” You would think so, but with the criminals and terrorists that leak their way into our system, you have to wonder exactly what process they go through to get here…
Here is what I need to do to get a student visa for Spain (for a stay of 6 months or more):
1. Fill out their Visa application (basic info, but a bit lengthy)
2. Two passport-type photos
3. Passport (you have to turn it in to the consulate office for the month or so when they are processing your visa)
4. Acceptance letter from the Spanish School you are attending, along with a ton of other information about the school and proof of payment, etc.
5. Proof that you have at least $2,257.00 for every month you plan to be living in Spain. Wow!
6. Evidence of health insurance during your entire stay in Spain.
7. Medical certificate from a doctor in the US indicating you have been examined and found in good physical and mental health to travel and study abroad, and free of contagious diseases. Must be in English, as well as translated into Spanish.
8. A certificate of good conduct from the LA police department stating an absence of police records… and after obtaining this letter, you have to take it somewhere else to get legalized with “Apostille of The Hague” Also must be in English and also translated into Spanish.
9. Proof of airline reservation to Spain
10. Visa Fee of $100
Once you have gathered all these materials, you have to make an appointment with the Spanish Consulate and hope that everything you have is legit and to their standards! Then you have to surrender your passport for the one-to-two months or so that it takes to process your visa! Phew!
And then, once I get to Spain, I will have to make an appointment with the Spanish Police to get a student ID card.
In addition, in order for me to bring Sonny to Spain, I have to take him to the vet for the following:
1. Dog needs to be microchipped with a Europe ISO compatible microchip ($75 for the chip, plus vet fees, etc), and then needs to be registered with the Spanish government.
2. One official certificate signed and stamped by a vet declaring the animal has been vaccinated against rabies. (in English, and also translated into Spanish)
3. One official certificate signed and stamped by a vet stating the animal has been under his supervision for three months previous to import into Spain. (in English, also translated into Spanish)
4. If you choose to do so, you should also get your pet vaccinated against leptospirosis, parvovirus, hepatitis, distemper, and kennel cough.
5. Obtain health and travel insurance for your pet.
Once you arrive in Spain, you dog should also be examined by a Spanish vet, and you should go through the process of obtaining a “pet passport” if you plan to travel throughout Europe with your pet.
And this is only the START of it all!
The BIG things on my to-do list in regards to moving from LA and moving to Spain include:
1. Surrendering my apartment
2. Sorting through ALL of my belongings and figuring out what I can box up, what I’m taking with, what I have to pay to store, what I can sell, etc. I’m hoping to leave a lot of the furniture, etc, that I want to keep with friends who can use these items while I’m away and be able to return them to me when I come back! This includes an entire bedroom set, kitchen table & chairs, TV, computer, dishes and pots&pans, etc. ahhh!
3. Sell my car! And PREPARE my car to be sold! (new brakes, tire rotation, fix the side mirror, get the car cleaned, etc)
4. Quit my job (giving them a little under 2 months notice.) Pray that I might be able to keep working for the company, doing freelance work from afar.
5. Cancel all my utilities, magazine subscriptions, bills, etc, and forward my mail to my mom or somebody who can take care of my extra mail/bills while I’m away.
6. Find somebody to take over my gym membership so I can have the same great deal when I return to the U.S. in a year 🙂
7. Open a new bank account in Wisconsin so my family can help me take care of the $$ coming in from freelance jobs in the U.S., as well as to help pay bills, etc, that I’ll have to pay in the U.S.
8. Find an apartment in Spain that allows pets (going to be HARD!) and hopefully find a furnished apartment, or I’ll have to buy furniture.
9. Figure out how to get a “world phone” cellphone or some kind of phone that won’t be expensive to call overseas. Not sure if I should obtain this in the U.S. before I leave, or look into it in Spain.
10. Open a Spanish bank account, or obtain a spanish credit card. (or open a debit account at a U.S. credit union) — I basically need to find an account where I wont get charged international fees every time I try to withdraw money or charge something on a card.
And of course, I can’t forget about all the friends and family members that I need/want to spend time with before I go, the extra jobs I need to work to make extra $$ so I can afford this all, the extra time I need to plan everything and make all these different appointments with doctors, vets, government agencies, etc. Yikes!
But of course, in the end, we all know that it will be well worth it for the experience I will receive in the end! 🙂
Right . . . ?