So, you want to come to Madrid, do you? Dying to escape the current administration, need a sabbatical, or just need a new direction? So, you submitted all your paperwork, got all your ducks in a row, held your breath and have come to terms with that fact that you could be in mighty Europe…and, guess what?
YOU DID IT. You’re coming to Madrid! But not just for any old reason. You’ve been accepted into the Universidad de Alcala-Henares’s Instituto Franklin! Whether you’re getting your master’s in International Education, Bilingual Education, etc., you are sure to be in for a grad school treat.
Are you excited? And most importantly did you make your visa appointment yet?
My name is Jonathan and I am the 2016-2017 Program Leader for the MA Bilingual Education program. Administration and I got together to make a little blog to prepare you and yours for your upcoming trip across the pond. Be sure and keep checking back for weekly post about different subjects such as finances, Spanish culture, language, teaching tips and tricks, etc. Think of this as your Instituto Franklin survival guide, prepared by yours truly. This current post is going to help you get started before you board that plane for mighty Europe. For those of you who are in Spain or Madrid already, you should check this out too. You just might learn something.
Tip 1: Start saving now
Yes, the program is paid for but you still need to have a backup plan, so start saving as much money as you can immediately. The program pay is enough to help you pay your rent and little else, so should you want to travel, go shopping, go out with your friends (which is my current vice), or anything else you need to save as much as possible. I personally worked four jobs to pay for my way here, so y’all get to getting. Luckily Spain is very cheap and little bit goes a long way, but a little spending money is nice. Also remember that should you want to return home for breaks that tickets can run close to $1500 round trip, so keep that in mind when budgeting and saving.
Tip 2: Start looking for housing ASAP
Please please please heed my advice on this because from August to November finding housing is going to be virtually impossible in Madrid, for both Spaniards and foreigners. I booked my apartment two months before I arrived in July and sublet it so as to not lose money. That was the only way to ensure getting the housing I wanted. Trust me when I say that you need to set up your housing for September ASAP so that you don’t waste money on a hostel or AirBNB. I would say start looking around June/July to start your lease in September. Idealista.com is a great place to start. If you want to live with roommates, get on the Facebook groups for the language assistant programs and see who’s around and available. (Pro tip: Live with Spaniards if you really are looking for that language experience—don’t get stuck in an English-speaking housing bubble) You will need to pay a few months of rent in advance in addition to a deposit, so check those savings and your budget to see what you can afford. We don’t have nóminas so that’s really the only option. Ask around about what neighborhoods are best. You won’t find out your placement until later on, so get your housing settled first. Madrid is easy to maneuver so you will be just fine when you do have to start commuting to work and school.
Tip 3: Get that visa
For those of you already in Spain, skip this section. You may have this figured out already and you’ll have to do some different paperwork later on. Administration will be in touch. For those of you who aren’t, listen close:
-Find the consulate that pertains to your city. For instance, I was in New Orleans and had to go to Houston. A few clicks in Google is all this takes.
-Ask for the appointment only within three months of the program’s start date. You will be denied if you apply too early, like I was. When you get the program’s start date, go ahead and book your appointment. (Please note that you need the program’s physical acceptance and insurance letters to apply for the visa, so don’t do anything until you have them, but make sure you stick to the three-month window.)
-Administration will send you the entire visa process that you need to follow, so don’t worry. It’s going to be completely spelled out for you. Instructions will also be on your consulate’s website. If you have a question, send an email to Instituto Franklin and someone will get back to you.
-On your doctor’s letter, make sure whoever types it out for you copies and pastes exactly what they’re supposed to or the consulate will not take it. Again, I speak from experience. It’s all on the consulate’s website.
-Make several copies of all documents. Don’t give anyone the originals unless they ask for them.
-When it’s appointment time, make sure to politely wait your turn. Remember, in Spain things move a little slower but you will be attended to at your appointment time. In the consulate, you’re going to be treated like a Spaniard, so just wait and maybe bring a book if you show up early.
-You have to have a certified envelope and leave your passport with the consulate so that they can ship your passport with your visa inside. Make sure you stay on that tracking number, and if you’d like you can even schedule delivery times with USPS.
Tip 4: Book a flight as soon as possible once you know your program’s orientation dates.
And that’s it for now! Now, follow everything step-by-step, reach out to your coordinator with any questions, and, most importantly, relax. You’re going to do great, kid. Keep your eyes peeled for next week’s post with more helpful hints.