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Friday, June 28, 2013

Top 10 Secrets to Happiness in Barcelona

Perhaps  you are looking for some philosophically sound advice?

Life is like a box of chocolates...
(Or these super yummy Choco-Loco Brownie Batter Truffles

You won't find that here. :P

However, you will find some recommendations based on my own personal experiences and those of others. 

Top 10 Secrets to Happiness in Barcelona

10. Don't expect anyone to be on time (ever), but always be on time yourself.

9. I hope you like ham...but probably not ham like what you are used to...jamón. If you don't have any issues with eating pork, splurge at least once and try the jamón ibérico de bellota (acorn-fed) at least once. Beicon does not equal "bacon". Sorry. Try the pop. Don't ask what it is, just try it, especially if you are at a Galician restaurant. (I think that was 3-in-1, what a great value!)

8. Get to know Catalunya, not just Barcelona. Visit Montserrat and don't be afraid to visit other great places like Sitges and Vilafranca del Penedès and Girona.

7. Bring something to read while you are waiting in line when you have to go to the bank. I suggest the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin, or make your own house sigil while you wait. ;)

6. After trip to said bank, indulge. I suggest the awesome dessert listed above. No oven necessary and only requires 3 ingredients. En serio. 

5. Maybe you'd rather eat some dog food though....

4.  Make sure you prepare everything you will need for your immigration paperwork and renewal and have extra copies of everything. I have documented some personal experiences here.

3. Always be on the lookout for robbers (or as my English students used to say, "stolers") on the metro and everywhere else. Guard your things well, especially in touristic places. Put the strap of your bag between your legs whenever you sit inside (except your house, maybe...). If somebody buzzes your apartment to be let in, do not let them in unless you know who they are. It is common here for people to ring buzzers and expect to be let in to distribute pamphlets or say they are the electric company, just to get entrance to buildings. Do not let anyone in that you do not know. Please!

2. Learn a little Catalan, it will come in handy and may just make someone's day (perhaps yours!). Get to know the culture of where you are living to maximize your experience.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand..... (drum roll please!)

This brief interlude also encourages you to visit Carcassonne.
It's pretty awesome.

1. Pack light. PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS SACRED AND GOOD. Now that I am preparing to leave for the summer, I am miserably deciding what I will try to store here, and what I must throw away. Resist the urge. Pack light! You can get almost anything you want here if you know where to look. You will thank me at some point.

Any other tips? Please post comments below to share with others. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Translation Woes and Saving Dough

You need something translated into Spanish for your paperwork for school and just found out it will cost almost 100 euros.

This has been happening to many of my friends. They don't have many options, so they cough up the cash. 

Awe, don't be stressed. Ain't nobody got time for that!

Those days are gone. It's like Christmas in June...

Gus and Dash are ready for the holidays...

Only...a more Catalan one, since that's where I am right now! :)

Tió de Nadal. He's got his own song. He's kind of a big deal.

I saw what a pain in the nalgas it was for my friends to get these translations, and I said, "There has to be somebody in my department at the university who is a certified translator". You know...the kind with the stamp and all that jazz.

And there is!

Boris is a doctoral candidate from my department, and he is qualified to translate your English documents into Spanish. He knows what it's like to be a poor college student, and he is dedicated to charging fair rates to those who need his help.

You can contact him here for more information. 

Autorización de Verano

Summer is here!

This means sun, fun, and traveling. For some of us, it means traveling to other countries for internships. 

If you've been following along, you know that I submitted everything I needed to renew my TIE (the card with my personal ID number that shows I am here legally). After turning everything in, I waited for about two weeks, checking the status of my application religiously, and finally saw that it was approved. The catch, however, is that I can't continue with the application process until the card actually expires, and I have to travel before that date. Other students are from countries that require them to have a visa in order to enter the country and are also waiting for their cards to expire before they can finish renewing them.

This guy got his A2R, and you can too!

So...the Autorización de Regreso (Authorization to Return) might be something you will have to get if you are in a similar situation. One thing you will need is the Ex-13. A form that my friends and myself have had trouble getting from any source. When clicking the link from the police station and from university sources, they only get a "Please wait..." message and a prompt to download the newest Adobe Reader. 

Well, I have that, and despite trying multiple sources, I still couldn't access the file. So, when I finally found it, I thought I would share it. Note that I cannot guarantee that it is the most up to date one! This one is from my university, but you should be able to access it. As of this writing, it was accepted and allowed me to get my Authorization to Return.

*One tricky note*: There is a La Caixa across from the office you must go to (as of this writing). They will not let you pay your tasa (fee) unless you are a member of their bank. The BBVA next door on Selva del Mar will only let you pay on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Catalunya Caixa will let you pay whenever you please.

** Additional note: It doesn't seem to matter what time your appointment is. You must have an appointment....but I arrived an hour before mine and still had to wait two hours. Yayyyyyyyyy! (not!)

Monday, June 24, 2013

You Just Don't Stop

This is what I have been hearing non-stop for the last several days.

After the third or fourth time, I finally stopped to reflect. Friends and neighbors have been asking about our summer plans. After taking nearly a full time schedule for my master's degree, teaching multiple private classes this year, interning as a language teaching assistant and managing the intern blog, interning elsewhere to manage a linguistics study and doing some interpretations and transcriptions, I am ready to relax.

Bubbles in the air @ Parc de la Maternitat
Last day of class with the 4-6 year-olds
However, when I tell people that Will and I are traveling to Italy and then Hong Kong this summer, they don't look surprised at all when they respond, "You just don't stop." When they say, "So, are you learning Italian now too?" I respond, "I actually started my Italian lessons before we moved to Barcelona". I only stopped because I wanted to get a head start on Catalan before we arrived.

City Wall of Girona
from Recent Travels...We're Always Traveling!
And what about Mandarin? Yes, Mandarin too. We want to travel in mainland China, and I am excited to practice. Cantonese? Well, I haven't found many resources for that yet, but maybe once we arrive. :)

Maybe I "just don't stop," but I am ready to relax a little. I already started by fixing some holes in my jeans. I'd like to thank my good friend Selena of Saving with Selena for being my personal consultant on the matter! I'll get back into some classes that I have been meaning to play around with, maybe some Code Academy tutorials like Selena and Will suggested. I'll start thinking a little more about my final project for my degree. I have some great books to read, and this wonderful blog to update! 

Let the summer begin! And, yeah...everyone is right. I just don't stop.

Awww, I remember Muzzy from first grade! 

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