First things first: I’m sorry for the irregularity of this blog, three pieces in two days, but before that, nothing for over a week?
Well, the thing is I’m just not all that organised, plus as the posts suggest, THINGS ARE ACTUALLY HAPPENING!!
Last week via my fellow Language Assistants (LAs) and in fact over the past month from other Southampton Students on their year abroad, I have heard a lot of discomforting things about the amount of paper work and hoop jumping required to be here, in Spain. The simalteneously most terrifying and hysterical account can be found here: http://heather.in/spain/hating-banks/
This meant that yesterday, when I started out on my intrepid quest to go bravely and do what pretty much everyone else had already tried, I was terrified!
Much to my surprise however, everything was incredibly straight forward, people were friendly, useful and let me get away with maybe being short of a few requirements. In fact, the hardest thing was topping up my bus pass to get back to school!
So, just in case there is anyone out there who has yet to go enjoy the fun that is Spanish bureaucracy, I came up with some top tips:
1. Do your research.
Talk to people, or get told, which ever is easiest. This means you’ll know what to bring to each meeting, as if you’re short of anything that may just be a dead end.
This also goes for knowing what you don’t need. For a bank account you do not need a NIE, so when I was asked to present mine I was able to get around the fact I didn’t have one. Know your facts and use them assertively.
2. Dress like a boss.
No, litterally, I dressed as my dad’s partner does for work and she is a boss! A smart dress or suit says authority, says you know what you want; jeans and trainers don’t.
Not that this is actually crucial, but the clack of my heels gave me the confidence that I was going into that office and I was going to get sh*t done.
Like a Boss!
3. Be prepared to speak the language.
If you’re applying for a residency permit, VISA, or any kind of document that grants you access to a country for an extended period, they will probably expect you to at least have a vague grasp on the lingo. Its also rude to expect them to speak your language and all very possible that they don’t or even just won’t.
However, don’t be afraid to ask anyone you come across to explain again or speak slower, after all it is only the start of your trip. They don’t need to know that you’ve been studying Spanish for x-million years. Its good to try, but don’t let yourself get lost: clarifying could save you from a time consuming mistake.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
When I was filling out my NIE form, I couldn’t make head nor tail of it once I got past ‘nombre’, ‘apelido’ and ‘fecha de nacimiento’. Instead of panicking or turning to some iffy google explanation which would have probably seen me even more confused, I simply asked for help.
Suddenly, my fairy godmother of a tutor and head teacher of my school swept down on me and lo-and-behold it was filled out for me! You might say I should stand on my own two feet, but I did: I stood up and asked. Its always going to be easier to bite the bullet and ask someone who knows what they’re doing than wallow about in the murky depths of confusion.
5. Finally, SMILE!
A smile costs nothing, but gives much
A smile gets people to help, to show you the way and a simple thank you can ensure the recurrence of this phenomenon. If you come in, grumpy and surly, it might be that they’re not so willing to explain something twice, to go out of their way to get you something which is neither here nor there to them. After all, its you who needs the documents.
A smile (and some pleading) got me a bank account when I had (and still do have) no permanent address; a smile got Nice Mr Bank Man to do me that extra photocopy of my passport I needed for my NIE; a smile got me someone who was happy to talk slowly and talk me through the endless documents I had to fill out.
But then again, this might just be in Pais Vasco. But if you’ve still got this to go through, buena suerte, I think you still might need it!