Sunday, October 5, 2008

Rose colored glasses

I think it´s time to share some of the the challenges beyond work papers that I´ve found to be common between me and another of my friends who has just moved to Spain. Obviously the financial crisis has been on the minds of everyone for the past week or so, what happens in the US does not stay in the US, and every newscast reports on the state of the banking system in Spain and the rest of the European Union. Luckily, as of now the Spanish economic system is a little more stable than in other parts of the world (they are ok with regulations and government controls on banking), so despite the world banking crisis, I opened a Spanish savings account recently. It was quite easy, showing them my passport and my address here in Spain I have an account as a foriegner that gives me an ATM card, so I can avoid all the international fees taking money out of my American account. There are a few extra charges to maintain the account as a non-resident, but nothing incredibly insane. So, I decided to deposit some money in my Spanish account, only to find that apparently I am being charged 20 euros each time I deposit money into the account!! wonder it was so easy to open the account as a non-resident. So, I went back the bank to ask about the charges, one was explained as the cost to get the ATM card (geez...) and the second they couldn´t explain to me saying it was probably something about getting the proof of my residency in the USA (isn´t that the passport?)...but they could have at least told me they were charging me those 20 euros each time. My friend has also come upon the strain of euro, with the exchange rate going between $1.40-$1.50 each week the basic necesities in life cost much more here. I have found some really great places to buy food and basic house things for cheap here, I´m not sure if they are all over Spain, but in case you need some cheap groceries or shoes while you are here on vacation stop at: Alcampo (supermarket/department store that is cheaper than the Corte Ingles), Dia%, Gadis, Lidl, Eroski (all supermarkets). For basic house stuff with style I found good stuff at a store called Casa (the closest Ikea to me is in O Porto, Portugal), cute bamboo rugs cost 5 euros and a fleece blanket cost only 6 euros there too. The Chinos, asian bazars, are also great places to get basic house stuff for cheap. Cheap clothes I have yet to find, pretty much the basic places are Zara, Bershka, and Stradivarious, but with the exchange rate I´m looking forward to the next round of rebajas(sales) in January.
Beyond money and buying things, I´ve also found that living in an old apartment with no heat has created quite a challege in staying warm. Heaters here are different then the ones at I would love to have a disk heater like the ones from Costco! But, here the basic heater is called a radiador, it looks like an old heater from the 40´s on wheels, is electric, and gives off heat by heating oil inside. I bought one for my apartment, only to find that it takes forever to warm up, as all the oil needs to heat up and start moving though the panels, and since I began using it my electricity has gone out about 10 times in one week. Thank goodness for my fleece blanket, slippers, and hot tea! But, another word of advice, figure out how to turn your electricity back on if you blow a fuse...


laura said...

It can't be as bad as your mom's house!

If you got a space heater here and used a converter, would that work?

Emily said...

Dianne! It took me a moment to figure out which Spanish phrase to click on so I could leave a message! haha This story reminds me of our apartment when we thought we didn't have heat but we just needed to turn on the vent! Ah, memories!

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