it’s everywhere you want to be

28 Jul

Any big step requires some preparation (or so I’m told) – and for my upcoming trek to Madrid the biggest hurdle to clear is applying for and securing my visa.

During my previous 4-month stint in Barcelona, my friends and I joked about “Spain time” – everything happened more slowly than normal and our study abroad program never seemed to sweat the small stuff. While I thought my dealings with the Spanish consulate would be a little bit more stream-lined, the bureaucratic and tangled mess that is the visa application process is beyond worth a post of its own.

Sxc.hu

Wednesday, July 14th began with an early morning drive to the Spanish Consulate LA’s office (Highland and Wilshire) and then quickly became a rat race around southern California. Obtaining one last document required 3 separate certifications of its authenticity (and pit-stops in Simi Valley, Ventura, and Downtown Los Angeles).

It’s amazing how much paperwork goes into getting a tiny piece of paper inserted into my passport. Here are some things I’ve learned from this whole process:

  • Show up to the consulate appointment with all of your documents and in the correct order. It seems like a no-brainer, but you don’t want to have to leave to find a notary or a place to get a money order once you’ve schlepped all the way out there. The woman taking care of us was not a fan of the college kid studying abroad with CEA whose documents were folded and who forgot copies of more than one document.
  • The Spanish government is very picky about what type of background check they require. Or, they were until they changed their requirements. Now it seems like they don’t really care at all.
  • Find a notary who actually knows how to notarize, so you don’t have to get it re-done like I did. Mine added his middle name which the Ventura County clerk wasn’t okay with.
  • There is something called an “Apostille of the Hague.” It’s a type of certification. And it’s legit. Or I’ve heard it’s legit, I’m not really sure.
  • Follow instructions word-for-word, but don’t take any instructions  at face-value. The instructions I got from the consulate differed from what I was told from the Spanish government. Seriously.
  • The consulate wants proof you’ve booked a one-way airline ticket. Or they want a tentative sketch of your itinerary. Again, not really sure.

While the hardest part is behind me, I won’t be stress-free until I get that little booklet back in my hands. With an upcoming “business trip” to Toronto in the works, I’m hoping Spain finally learns to hustle.

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2 Responses to “it’s everywhere you want to be”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. mash-up twenty-ten. « That's G - December 30, 2010

    […] in NY and DC checking out law schools (for me) and working (for him). I also dealt with an insane bureaucratic mess that involved 3 trips to the Spanish Consulate on Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles and a bunch of […]

  2. my travel ABCs « That's G - September 17, 2011

    […] were for Spain. The first one was a cinch to get for study abroad – thanks, ISA – but the second one, for my auxiliares program, was a huge […]

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