9 Questions About Living Elsewhere

1. Where did you live and for how long?
I lived in Madrid, Spain for a year.

2. What made you decide to go there?
I knew that I wanted to spend some time studying in another country and I narrowed my choice to Spanish speaking countries since Spanish was one of my majors. I chose Spain over anywhere in Latin America because I think that I had more of a fascination with Europe at the time. The idea of being able to cross between vastly distinct cultures by traveling relatively short distances was a major plus for me. I chose Madrid over other cities in Spain because I really needed to be in a Metropolitan city. Lots of action and a good nightlife were important.

3. Did you have to lie to enter the country?

4. Were you/are you legal? Plan on becoming so?
Since I traveled with a student visa I had no problem entering the country. But I was required to leave after the allotted period of time. I plan on returning to Spain to live again in the not so distant future and I'm exploring ways to do so. To simplify matters I may get over there again on a student visa for some sort of language program (I want to get certified as a translator) but once I'm there I'll just stay as long as I want. I have heard that doing so doesn't really present too much of a problem as long as you don't get in any legal trouble. Even though you have overstayed your visa, the U.S. will not hinder your return to the country...so I hear.

5. How did you/do you make money? Did you go there with a job or have to find one?
Obviously I had no job, but I could have worked if I needed/wanted to. I quickly met a friend who owned a small business. He probably would have employed me, but he also could have helped me get a jobs spinning records at clubs or just working for them since he was big into the bar/club scene.

6. Was housing easy/difficult?
Housing was very easy, but that was partially due to the fact that I spoke the language fairly well when I arrived. In Madrid, without knowing Spanish at all it would be a bit more difficult. It wouldn't be impossible, but you would need to find someone who spoke English to help you out or it could get frustrating.

7. Was the language a problem?
The language wasn't a problem for me since I already had a big head start on it. Living with Spanish speakers accelerated my learning exponentially. I left a fluent speaker.

8. Favorite things/worst things about the place?
My favorite thing about Spain in general is the people. They are nice, easy going people as a whole who have minimal attitude and are very accepting of foreign visitors. I worried how the events of the past few years have affected attitudes towards Americans, but a recent vacation to Spain this year showed me that not much has changed. Most people are intelligent and informed and don't hate all Americans just because they hate our President. My favorite thing about Madrid is the nightlife. Madrid is truly the city that never sleeps and I love it. When Madrileņos go out for the evening they don't leave their flat until close to Midnight. Often they are waiting for the Metro to open at 6:30 to get home and if they aren't ready to go home then there are plenty of clubs that will be bumping until Noon.

9. Any good stories about it or advice for others following?
Too many stories to even try to tell one. My only advice is go to Spain...I bet you'll love it. If you plan on spending some extended time there take a crash course in Spanish before you go just to give you a head start. Once you get there you'll pick up the language quickly if you are an outgoing person that can make some Spanish friends.


- Sam Rakowski