When you’re living abroad, you have to take note of the little wins. Celebrate the small steps. See what is better today than it was yesterday, and highlight that. Otherwise, life just feels like one big task that is never going to end. And the point of moving abroad isn’t to be filled with worry but to soak in the experience. You can’t just disregard responsibilities, so you learn to make light of it.
Here’s what’s on my to-do list right now…
I interviewed for two jobs Monday. I really like both companies, and would prefer the first I interviewed with. But neither can hire me right now. Why? Because I still need certain documentation. On my passport, I have my student visa sticker. But I need my residence card for Spain to give me an official number for foreigners. Those appointments are stacked, so I probably will not be able to apply for that for another few weeks. And before I can even get that, I have to apply as a resident, and my appointment is tomorrow. Today, I tried booking my foreign residence card appointment by going to the Foreign Office. I get there to quickly learn that they won’t give me an appointment there, but instead I have to go to a different office, which is already closed for the day.
From there, I need a social security number. I cannot just request one — I have to wait until I am hired with an employer and they request it for me. First, it has to be worth their while to spend the time requesting it for me to work for them.
So there is the job situation right now. Then I just moved into an apartment. I love the space, I love that I only share it with one flatmate, and I love how close it is to the center of Madrid. What I don’t like is the furniture and decor. So today I spent a few hours buying for it. But when you’re in a different country, how do you even know which stores to go to? Through a Facebook group, I learned that Tiger is similar to Ikea, and that El Universe Del Hogar is like a discount Bed Bath & Beyond. But how do you get sheets for a bed when they don’t measure them by a “Single” or “Double” but by centimeters? And how do you even know which are the sheets and which are the pillowcases, when it’s all in Spanish? Thankfully, the store clerk was so gracious with me. He gave me time while I gave him a confused look, said lo siento (I’m sorry), and then pulled up Google Translate to figure out what an almohada was (a pillowcase).
There is still a lot to figure out with my work situation, but you know what? I love the little wins of today. I got my bedding, first. And I got my public transportation card! If you’re under 26 years in Madrid, you can use all the public transportation for only 20€ a month. It’s great to not be spending 3€ a trip anymore.
My last win: I successfully shopped at a Spanish supermarket! Sure, most items are easily identified through what they look like. But when you’re in the cleaning aisle, how in the world do you figure out what the wrinkle remover is? Or the bleach spray? Google Translate again came to the rescue! So after I bought everything, I made my first meal here, cleaned, and hung up my clothes to dry on the outside patio lines, since no one uses dryers here.
Today was packed with small wins, and I know tomorrow will be, too.