Month: September 2014

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times: Part 1

If you’ve been following any of our social media accounts you would think living in Madrid has been nothing but sunshine, rainbows, and happy feelings. But obviously reality is a bit different. While we do love Madrid, there are just some things that get on our nerves.

Peeved:

1. Cash Moneyz 

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Everyone knows Spain uses the Euro. And thats fine, the Euro is great.  My only problem is that €1 and €2 are coins, not paper. I know this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when I give someone a €10 bill and get back 3 lbs of change, it makes me a little upset.

2. Light Switches

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Why are they so big?! Its like the country is full of people with poor vision.  Also they put the bathroom light switch on the outside of the bathroom…call me American, but that does not seem ideal.

3. Power

I just feel like it would solve a lot of problems if everyone just followed the same system.  Then you wouldn’t have to buy these stupid things to make your electronics work.

4. Nutrition Labels

EVERYTHING is per 100 grams.  Thats fine if you are looking at something like meat, but terrible for something like salsa.  NO ONE EATS 100 g OF SALSA!  The entire jar is like 70 g, so why would the nutrition label be per 100 grams?!

5. Hard to get around (crazy street layout)

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I guess this is also part of Spain’s charm, but when you are trying to get somewhere for the first time, the winding streets are mega confusing, especially in comparison to the good ol’ Chicago grid system.

Love:

1. Madrid’s Metro 

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Everyone loves Chicago’s el, but the Metro here wins by far.  Its fast, efficient, and clean (none of which can be said about the el).

2. Tapas/Cheap eats

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In no other country do they give you free food with a €1.5 drink.  You don’t really get to choose, but its guaranteed to be Spanish food…and that means its going to be good.  Plus the drinks are  €1.5.  Thats like 1/4 the cost in Chicago!

3. The people

People here are great and love to meet new people. When introduced, you exchange a quick kiss on each cheek.  It really feels much more personal than the standard handshake back home. (when 2 men meet they still shake hands, aka no kissing)

4. Language/// Idioma

I studied Spanish so obviously I like this part of the country.  Its pretty much the reason we’re here.  Also tapas…that’s the other reason we’re here.

5. Architecture/History

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Just google image Madrid and you will see what I mean.

 

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Our new home

 

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Looking for tips on how to find an apartment in Spain? Check below the photos for a step-by-step guide! 🙂

For months before we left, Logan and I had to answer the question “So where are you going to live in Spain?” with a blank stare. We had no idea where we would end up living because BEDA doesn’t arrange housing for their Language Assistants, much like your grown up job wouldn’t find you an apartment. So instead of wiring money to a complete stranger for a piso we had never seen, we reserved an Airbnb for the first week with the hopes we would find an apartment before our reservation was over.

After lots of failed calls (apparently no one wants to take a couple), we finally found one we loved. We were already convinced this was the apartment for us, so we brought our deposit (finanzo) with us! Luckily the landlords are sweet abuelos (he showed us the apartment while towing around his two young granddaughters), they were very accommodating and already  had all the paperwork ready for us to sign the lease.

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Luckily Logan’s Spanish is mega good so he was able to ask all the questions we had about the apartment, as well as translate the lease for me (thanks babe). Our apartment is home to five people: Logan & I along with 3 Spaniards we haven’t met yet (they move in next week).

ClosetCollageAs you can see we have a very spacious room, with our own bathroom (complete with shower). We also have a walk in closet in our room – ironic, seeing as how this is the one time in my life where I will have the least amount of clothes, but the most amount of space. Our bedroom has giant windows (withoutscreens: I learned screened-in windows is only an American thing) that let in amazing afternoon light and a cool breeze.

OtherRoomsOur apartment is built around a courtyard (bottom left picture), and we get amazing natural light all day long (yay for not living in a cave)! You can see the view from our bedroom (top right) I love that it just looks so quintessential Spanish: clothes blowing in the wind, rust-colored clay roofs, and lot’s of balconies.

Overall, our piso is a dream come true: truly amazing. We are super close to plaza de sol (the metro hub of the city), so we can get pretty much anywhere really fast. We are surrounded by shops, bakeries, and most importantly, cheap tapas places. Mom & Dad: FYI this is a mega safe neighborhood; we even have a doorman!

S/O to Kayla for embroidering this amazing art for me, it really does make our room feel more like home

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There are definitely some key considerations you have to think about before you even begin looking for an apartment.

1. What neighborhood do you want to live in?

Madrid, like Chicago, is divided into neighborhoods or barrios. Each barrio has their own personality: hipster, college, party-centric, etc. Logan and I definitely wanted to live in a hoppin neighborhood full of restaurants, night life, and things to do, so we chose to look for apartments in Sol & Centre & Cortes.

2. Commute

This part was especially difficult for us because we had to consider each others’ commute before deciding on a neighborhood to live in, if you were here alone you obviously wouldn’t have to worry about that. I would suggest living near the metro line that goes by your school so you don’t have to do a shit ton of transfers/rely on buses. Luckily, both of our commutes are about 30 min from our piso, Logan’s is even less.

3. Scour the web

Now it’s time to look at the Spanish apartment hunting websites. We found ours via PisoCompartido, but other popular ones are idealista, and easypiso. These sites are great because you can narrow down the apartments by using their billion filters.

4. Call/Look

When you are looking for apartments in Madrid people usually won’t answer email, so you’ll need to either call or send a text (via What’s App, that’s what most people use instead of texting) and set up a time to look at the apartment. Pisos go fast, so the sooner you can see something the better. Make sure you bring the deposit and first months rent with you so you can start the process right away. As soon as Logan and I saw our apartment, we knew it was the one and had brought the money with us. We signed our lease that day, and moved in the next day.

Besos y abrazos,

Shannon