In case of confusion in this matter, please refer to the following FAQs.
I know, I know. It's hard to digest. And you have so many questions! And you wanna talk. And many other things. Just take a deep breath and continue reading.
When are you leaving?!
I will be departing next Sunday, Nov. 27.
What about Christmas? Will you, like Bing Crosby, be home for Christmas?
As of right now, I don't have a ticket back home. But my mom pretty much has assumed I will be coming home for sure. So let's say yes for now, although it isn't guaranteed and I don't know how long I'd be home. I mean, I am sure I'll have some sort of break...Spaniards are almost all Catholic.
How long will you be there?/When are you coming back!?
I will be there at least until May 2012, if all goes well. Maybe September 2012.
What will you be doing over in Spain?
I will be a marketing translator for a technical services/consulting company. As you know, the economy everywhere is pretty bad, and Spain is no exception. Since construction and engineering are two fields that struggle with the economic downturn, this company needs someone to translate their marketing materials, website, etc. into English so they can internationalize their company and try getting business elsewhere, like Qatar or London, where people are more likely to understand/read English than Spanish. I may even do some traveling with the company, if necessary, to help present ideas at conferences, give presentations or guide business associates around the cities we go to.
Earlier this year, I translated the text on their website to English.
So you know Spanish?
Yes. As most of you know, I minored in Spanish during college, and I also studied abroad in Spain twice. If that's not enough to convince you, I also took the B2 DELE exam while studying abroad the second time and received the certificate. You take the test for the specific level you want to achieve, ie, you don't take a general test and get a level assigned like a grade. I took the B2 exam and passed in listening, reading, writing, and speaking the language. The B2 level means this:
The DELE diploma level B2 certifies the linguistic competence necessary to engage in conversational situations of everyday life which do not require a specialised [sic] use of the language (e.g. technical terms). This certified DELE level is an equivalent of the level B2 of the European Framework of Reference. For business life this means, that the holder of the diploma can make sufficient use of Spanish in common work situations and handle routine duties and responsabilities [sic] at a certain level of independence and competence. Foreign students are requested to hold B2 level in order to get into a university career where knowledge in Spanish language is needed.
The levels of the exam (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2) are recognized across Europe as a standardized measure of a person's ability to read/speak/write a language. It isn't used in the United States, that's why you haven't heard of it. Nevertheless, I can still put it on my resume here in the US and get a few positive comments.
How did you hear about that job?
My dad is an engineer and works with the company in Spain to sell his company's structural monitoring systems. So he has some contacts there. My parents like to be my mobile business cards and try to sell me as a commodity. Ricardo, one of his business associates, listened and was interested. "We could definitely use someone with marketing/communications/bilingual abilities here!" So we kept in touch. When I was abroad the 2nd time, I wasn't too far from Ricardo, so I hopped on a train and spoke with him about the opportunity. We kept the chance open, although he didn't say at that time (April 2010) that I was hired. Later, maybe in September 2010, he emailed me and gave me a formal offer.
Isn't this last minute?/ How long have you prepared for this?
So as you see above, it's been in the talks for quite some time. But how did it take from September 2010 to November 2011 to get to packing my bags? Well, it's a really long process for the Spanish government to hire a foreigner.
First the company has to post the job in their country for a specified amount of time. They post it with very specific qualifications so it's hard to fill (and easy for ME to fill). For example: "Must have 4-year college degree in Communications or Marketing in English-speaking country. Must hold B2 level or higher in both English and Spanish or native speaker. Must have experience living abroad for more than 6 months." I don't know if that was exactly what they posted, but they made it catered to me. And they didn't find anyone there who filled it.
So then they can offer it to me, but this specific job was through a government grant (it's the government paying me, not the company). They have to apply for a loooong time to get some fancy paper that says I have the job there.
Meanwhile, I am here getting apostilles (stamps that verify US documents for foreign use) for everything from my college transcripts to my birth certificate to photocopies of my passport. And I am checking off the long list of documents to get a Spanish residence visa (more passport photos, forms to fill out, photocopying, etc).
To apply for the visa here, I needed that magic paper that they were getting all sorted in Spain. Once they sent that to me, I could get my visa. But it "expires" in 30 days, and I still was waiting on the apostille for my FBI background check. And that could take another 5 weeks. So I went to the consulate with everything BUT that, and they accepted it, telling me after they call me to say the visa is ready, I needed to bring copies of my plane tickets and my FBI background check with apostille. I figured I'd have some time to get that visa phone call, but it actually took 2 days. TWO DAYS. For those of you who have studied abroad, you know that when applying for a study visa, 4 to 8 weeks pass from the time you turn in your stack of paperwork at the consulate until the time you get the email/call saying it's ready. So I was shocked.
But I still had to wait for my background check to come back (which took 8 weeks, starting a little before applying for the visa), then get a notary to sign a paper to send back to the US Department of State for an apostille. Which took another 4 weeks.
Oh, and I did a lot of this stuff when I first heard about the job in late 2010, but I found that they expired 90 days after issuance (like the fbi background check) so it was just wasted time and money and I had to do it all over again when I got that magic Spanish paper.
So yeah, it was a LONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNG process. But I kept on plugging along, since I invested so much time in it already and didn't want to stop.
But once I got my apostille of my background check, it was like "Okay, so I could get my visa, theoretically, today if I wanted." So I thought for about 2 days, then decided that yes, I want to do this. I gave 2 weeks notice at my jobs, and picked up my visa during my final week of work. I told Ricardo that I was ready anytime. Then I decided to wait until Thanksgiving because why not? So the weekend after Thanksgiving became the date.
But aren't you frantic trying to do this over the Thanksgiving holidays? Don't you have a lot to do to prepare/pack?
Not really, no. Now that I have all week without work, I have the time to take care of things, like calling my banks and letting them know there isn't some identity thief that will be prancing around Spain for 5 months buying low-cost items like 20 euro bus rides.
I am actually thankful that I save lots of stuff, especially my papers from studying abroad. I am just going through the "Get-Set Guide" doing the pre-departure checklist. It's actually super helpful.
Where exactly will you be located?
Valencia! Along the Mediterranean Sea. It's the 3rd largest city in Spain (just like Chicago is the 3rd largest of the US!).
Do you know anyone over there?
In Valencia? Just Ricardo. But it's about an hour train ride from where I studied abroad the 2nd time, Alicante. And in Alicante, I have my old host family, my study abroad program directors, and the whole Radio San Vicente staff that I interned with.
I am so jealous. I want your life right now.
First of all, that isn't a question. And this is frequently asked QUESTIONS, not statements. I'll let you slide this time.
But don't be super jealous...remember, it is a job. Like you (most likely) have. I will be working, not just drinking kalimotxos on the beach somewhere.
How can I keep in touch with you?
I'll have a phone, but the way phone service is there, it would cost a ton to even receive a call from the US. Instead, you can video message me on Skype, you can email me, facebook me, or comment on my posts here in this blog!
I don't really know you that well. So I am REALLY confused. What have you been up to lately?
This summer and fall I worked as a videographer for a small social media marketing agency. I shot and edited their videos (since the first week in June) for our clients' use online. Here are some videos (the ones I did are the most recent few, starting in June until November).
Starting in September I also worked as an intern at Optimus, a post-production and finishing company that worked on commercials. This KitchenAid commercial? I was in the color-correction room for that. I saw those muffins get more golden, Pilar (the actress's name) get less red in the face, and that kitchen get sunnier.
This movie, Sin Bin (which isn't yet released), starring some up-and-comers as well as Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Ben McKenzie (The O.C.)? I have sat in on several editing sessions watching the editor trim scenes to match music and audience's attention spans.
This Blackhawks commercial? It's narrated by Optimus' Bruce Lash (audio engineer). And I've sat in with the editor of this as well, who is currently working on Splenda ads for the holidays. And he told me that Toews, in the Blackhawks commercial, moved his mouth during the high-five scene, so they had to super-impose a still mouth over his face so it matches the narration of him not talking. Yeah, now you're gonna look at it and say "It DOES look weird!"
So yeah, that's what I've been up to.
Is there any chance this Spain thing could go longer than you mentioned above?
Yes and no. It's funded by the Spanish government, and the duration of the program is finite. May is the earliest I'd come home, but I think September, from what I understand, is the definite end of the program. "We'll see" is basically my answer to that.
Where will you be living?
I requested living with a host family since it's been so great the two times I did it while studying abroad. Ricardo is helping me with that, and although I posted the other day that I already found one, it now looks like they might back out. But he's still looking.
And contrary to what my brother thinks, a cardboard box is not the second choice option here.
Wow. This is gonna be something pretty crazy/exciting/adventurous, isn't it?
Well, I know what I'm in for because I studied abroad twice so I won't have much of a culture shock. Although, it will be different working in a more formal workplace (I had internship experience in Spain). I'm looking forward to it. I'm a bit nervous because January is probably the last time I had full-on Spanish conversations with someone (my neighbor's Spanish boyfriend and his brother). But as with the times I studied abroad, it will start off slow and then pick up in no time. I'll be fluent and then come home to the US and be weird. Like when I said "Gracias" to my Polish drycleaners in Illinois.
Can I come visit you?
Yes! Please! That would be fun. Keep in touch, and we can plan.
I am saying that assuming you are a friend or family member. If you are a creeper/crazed stalker, please don't.