Written by Karrie
Applying to the Auxiliares de Conversación Program January 2017
In order to apply to be an Auxilar de Conversación, there is a long application process, almost entirely in Spanish. (We were very thankful for Google Chrome and its automatic translation abilities!) We also had to provide electronic copies of many documents, including our passports, our degrees, a letter of recommendation, and a statement about why would like to participate in the program. Since we decided to apply to this program shortly after the application window opened and the order in which you get your complete application submitted is determinant in your placement, we worked like crazy to get everything completed and submitted as quickly as possible. This was made even more difficult by our crazy work schedules and exhaustion at the end of each day, but we powered through in order to get it all done!
Applying for A Visa June-August 2017
If we thought the application process to the auxiliares program was complicated, we had no idea what was ahead of us in applying for a visa. This process alone could make anyone turn away from the whole idea of moving abroad. There are many steps to be completed and one thing could easily be forgotten by even the most gifted person in executive functioning skills. The four of us would sit down and have actual meetings and planning sessions about the visa process so that we had a sort of checks and balances system in place. We had to get our fingerprints done, submit those to a channeler which fast-tracked our FBI background check. Once that was received, we had to send it to be apostilled (like a super fancy notary) in Washington D.C. We also had to get a power of attorney document notarized in order for our visa documents to be mailed into the consulate in San Francisco rather than brought in person. We had to get additional passport photos taken to include on the the two copies of the application. We also had to get a money order for the visa application fee. We had to write a letter indicating that we would like for our visas to be mailed to the honorary consulate of Seattle so that we wouldn’t have to pick up our visas in San Fransisco. (For more on that story, click here. We also had to make color photocopies of everything—our passports, our drivers licenses, and all of the application documents and scan them for archiving. We had to include a prepaid envelope for our passports to be mailed back to the honorary consulate in Seattle, which sounds like a simple task but ended up being quite complicated since the post office was out of the particular stamp they needed to use and had to apply around 20 stamps of varying values to the envelope. I am sure I am forgetting some key steps in this process but luckily that is okay since it is all behind me!
Getting Rid of Everything We Own July-September 2017
Mike has always been more inclined toward the idea of minimalism than me, so he quite enjoyed the process of downsizing all our belongings. I was not as easily able to part with many of our possessions and relied on regular listening sessions of The Minimalists podcast. We were able to sell a few of our larger items but we mostly just gave away thousands of dollars worth of things either to Goodwill or through Buy Nothing on Facebook! We no longer own any cars or furniture. We significantly downsized the number of everyday household items and clothes that we own. We both had to part with beloved possessions, including books, instruments, and office supplies. Luckily we have many wonderful friends who took many of our things, which made parting with them much easier knowing they were going to people we love. We also had amazing family and friends who allowed us to store some of our possessions with them—thank you Mom and Dad, Heidi, and Sarah! Now that the process of purging our possessions is completed, I can say that it was completely worth it. I am only missing a few things (books and my green pants!). The feeling after getting rid of a large bunch of items was always one of lightness, which was allowing us to take this adventure of a lifetime.
Packing August-September 2017
(This is a picture of just MY luggage)
The simple act of packing most everything you own into four bags is quite complicated. I probably packed, unpacked, and repacked about ten times. A suitcase looks so large when it’s empty and gives the impression that all of the clothes will most definitely fit. This is usually not the case. I started a clothes inventory in order to write down every single piece of clothing I owned in order to make getting rid of things easier. Even up to the day we were leaving, Mike and I were still taking things out of our suitcases, due to thinking that there were luggage weight limits that ended up not existing when we checked our bags. But in the long run it was probably good that we unloaded some weight, since we ended up hauling our bags from place to place more than expected!
Actually Getting on a Plane 12 September 2017
When people saw the luggage we were actually bringing with us, they had one of two reactions: Wow, that’s all you’re bringing?! -or- How are you going to deal with bringing all of that?! I thought we did pretty well considering how much we started with and that this was basically everything we owned! But we honestly couldn’t have managed with it all without the help of our amazing friends, Emily and Brittany, who drove us to the airport, walked in with us into the airport to help us carry the luggage, and kept me calm through the check-in process! Once we were checked in at the airport, the whole thing felt real and the excitement and reality started to set in. We are moving to Spain. The four of us had plenty of time at the airport to eat, toast our adventure, and discuss our range of emotions we were all feeling. Having friends there throughout this process, and especially at the airport and on our flights, made everything so much better because we didn’t feel so alone and separated from everything that was familiar.