Saturday, December 6, 2014

Day 94: The Temple, The Museum, and The Palace

It has been quiet some time since my last post but that's because I've been crazy busy. I have finally picked up more hours of teaching which is great because I can now start to save a little and not just make enough to pay for rent and food. Hooray! Before I moved to Madrid I did a lot of planning, a lot of calculating to make sure that this move was going to end up being worth it. The amount of time and money spent in moving and getting the TEFL certificate the last thing you want is to not get enough work to pay rent. Now I know this a common fear for anyone who wants to make a big move any where for any reason but this is especially in issue for moving to Madrid seeing as the city is going through an economic crisis. As a foreigner you can't really just get any job you want. Luckily if you speak English there are jobs waiting for you no matter what.

But here's the thing.

You really get teaching jobs one of 3 ways in Madrid.

A. Through an agency.

B. Through a school.

C. On your own accord using a website mostly getting you 1 on 1 classes and telephone classes.

All three of these are equally as viable and common ways someone gets a teaching job here.

Lets talk about B first. Getting a job through a school has its upsides and downsides. The upsides is your almost always guaranteed block hours (usually around 20 hours) each week with a steady in come per month. This is stability in a nut shell and provide a certain comfort to working here. The downside is you are working 20 hours a week no matter what which can be mentally tiring, it also means you really need to love your job because if you want to quit you're at 0 hours a week making no money unless you have a bunch jobs lined up because frankly if you're quitting a block hours job you are probably not going to want another block hour job. I stayed away from this from the get go because I wanted a more freeing schedule.

Then there is C where you create a schedule based a number of 1 on 1 classes a week where you go to a students house or apartment and teach them for about an hour or two or telephone classes where you work from home. This is easily the most freeing way to create a schedule since it's entirely up to you. The downside to this is that you need a lot of 1 on 1 classes or telephone classes to afford to live on your own seeing as the average pay is 13 - 15 euros an hour.

This is why I went with option A. An agency. Agencies usually hook you up with 1 on 1s, telephone classes, or on average more stable but smaller schedules that go from 3 -5 hours a week. This allowed me to create both a smaller block schedule and throw in some 1 on 1s on the side. The big issue I've come across with agencies is that because Madrid is in such an economic crisis they will accept any business or student as work and leave them with no repercussion for dropping their classes for any reason. So what had been happening to me a lot is that I would get small block hours with a Business company or a bunch of 1 on 1 classes with students and then all of a sudden the company or student would drop the class and there is nothing that I could do about it. All of a sudden I'd lose hours and money and the agency would do nothing about it. Class after class after class would start disappearing and my weekly work would start dwindling.

This becomes frustrating very fast. Especially since I'm literally living paycheck to paycheck in order to stay in Madrid. If at any time I'm not making enough to pay for rent/transportation/food I need to buy a plane ticket to come home. I started to get huge amounts of anxiety from this. The amount of sacrifice I put into this trip with leaving behind finding college, a job, my girl friend at the time, and my best friends I really didn't want this to end up being for nothing.

Thankfully with time and patience everything ended up working out. I picked up more smaller block hours teaching civil engineers business english and a couple 1 on 1 classes along with the marketing business classes I was previously teaching and now I'm in the green again. I'm still not quiet making what I want to be making per month but I'm making enough to survive. Hopefully within the next month or two I can pick up more hours and be in an even better place. Cross your fingers for me!

The NIE Card

No matter where you live in this world every place is going to have its ups and downs. That is something of certainty. I really truly love Madrid for so many numerous reasons, it's goods definitely out weighs it's bad because it's bad are limited. But there are bads. And as an American on a visa, if you're trying to extend your 6 month trip to a year you need to get an NIE card and this card is also needed to get work from a lot of places. Let me tell you, this process is just down right awful. The amount of work that goes into getting this card, the length in time, the hoops that you need to jump into, the amount of miscommunication that happens is just the most frustrating thing in the world.

If you're on a student or work mans visa and you're looking to extend your trip and you're reading this right now, get your NIE card as soon as possible. Don't wait.

Now I know in previous posts I've raved about how much I loved TtMadrid. Nothing about that has changed, I really owe this company everything since I wouldn't be where I am right now without them. That being said, two things I really think they misstepped on were:

1. Nothing having us start our NIE from the beginning because of how long the process is.

2. Not checking to see if the information they gave us on the process was up to date or even 100% accurate.

#2 was as major frustration in my life unfortunately.

Now let me start by saying that there is a long list of stuff you need to get before you can go to the NIE office and submit your papers for the card. Part 1 of the list is getting your Empadronamiento. This is a form that essentially says that you have proof that you are currently paying to live somewhere in Madrid. Now when I originally made a deal with the first apartment I stayed in September I did it through a 3rd party site. Neither the site nor the landlord required me to sign any contract of any kind. In a sense this was awesome because I could leave the place at any time without any repercussions but for getting my Empadronamiento is was an issue because I had no proof that I was living in the apartment I said I was. Now according to the information Tt had given me if you lived with someone who is either A. a resident of Madrid or B. has an NIE card all you would need to do is get them to sign off that you lived where you said you lived and have them provide proof that they pay to live there (a bill or a contract). Great no problem. Unfortunately what Tt had left out (whether they were aware of this or not) is that a person is only allowed to do this for two people a year maximum. So when I went in to get my Empadronamiento with my landlady's signature and a contract of the apartment they had told me that my landlady already had two people she was doing this for so I couldn't be one of them so they had rejected me. Great. It took two more meetings before this situation was solved and essentially it worked out eventually when I used her daughter for help instead of my actual landlady. When is frustrating is that the longer this takes the longer I needed to wait to get my job.

Part 2 was a lot easier. Get some photos taken, pay some money, fill out a bunch of forms and go to the NIE office and wait on a very long line until you could hand your forms in. This also took some time to accomplish but much easier. Fast forward to handing all the forms in when the guy behind the desk tells me ok everything is fine, come back in a month. What. It essentially took a month to get all this stuff together and having everything you need it will take a month to make me a plastic card? Listen, I know things go a lot slower in Madrid then anywhere else in the world but ccccommmeeee ooonnn.

Here's the best part. Another thing Tt had either left out or forgot to mention. On our visas' is a temporary NIE number which would essentially become our real NIE number once this card was finished. That's right, straight from the get-go we had the number needed to give to potential jobs so they would hire us but because no one mentioned it we didn't know we had it.

Luckily this information was figured out before the month long wait was over so I was able to score work while I waited patiently for my card.

When all is said and done I now have have my card and I'm now a resident of Madrid for a year :)

Temple de Debod

A couple weeks ago I went to my first Egyptian Temple which is in a park in Madrid. I know what you're thinking. What is an Egyptian Temple doing in Madrid? Well, in 1960 due to construction and possible threats in Egypt UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) asked six different countries to save some historical temples. As a sign of gratitude Egypt donated the tomb to Spain as a thank you.

This is what the temple looked like while it was in Egypt.

From the outside the temple doesn't look like much of anything. and it seems pretty small in stature. I'm assuming on most days you show up to it there will be a line of people trying to get inside to see it like there was the day I went but the line is worth the wait.

Because this was my first temple this was the first time I saw hieroglyphics up close. They were pretty incredible. Seeing these interesting stories depicted in stone. Some of the earliest forms of art and communication right before my eyes.

My buddy Jerry gracefully modeling in the tomb

Outside the temple is a nice cliff where you can look onto the rest of Madrid and see The Royal Palace in the distance.

Museo Nacional centro de Arte Reina Sofia

There are three famous museums located within walking distance from each other in Madrid. The Prado, The Reina Sofia, and Thyssen-Bornemisza. I have yet to enter The Thyssen and The Prado I went to earlier and was covered in a previous blog post. The Prado is world renowned famous museum that usually makes lists on top museums you must see. It's huge with millions of dollars worth of rare art. That being said, subjectively of course, I didn't find that art all that too interesting. The Reina Sofia, sometimes known as the pop art museum, features more surreal and modern art which I find more interesting and fascinating. It's smaller than the Prado but features more variant types of art styles than just wall art which includes the likes of Picasso, Dali, and many more. 

One of the things that excited me the most about this museum is that I got to see my first ever Picasso painting in person although I was not allowed to take a photo of it in person this is what it looks like. It's called Guernica and it's huge.

So here's a list of artist I've discovered that I really like, all whose art are featured in these photos that if you like art you should probably check out. The only exception to this list is Dali, who has already been a favorite but is still an artist you should check out if you haven't.

- Salvador Dali
- Angeles Santos
- Oskar Schlemmer

Palacio Real

One very famous landmark which is pretty hard to miss due to its size is The Royal Palace which is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family. The palace has over a hundred rooms inside but only certain parts of the palace is accessible to the general public.

An ominous force awaits us inside.

The Palace overlooked a wonderful view of the city

Testing the zoom on my new camera. Zooms in pretty far. Lets go deeeeepppeer.

Damn that zooms in pretty deep. This was taken from the palace. I was in the same spot I was three pictures ago.

Alicia captured this wonderful shot of me scratching my head. Am I model or what!?

Just incase you were curious what I meant when I said that the Palace as huge.

The court yard inside.

The art on the ceilings of the palace were truly remarkable

I wouldn't want mw and my partner to sit any where but on the opposite ends of this table every time we ate. We'd have wonderful screaming conversations.

Almost went Sherlock on this. You can tell the guy across from me was thinking the same exact thing.

Overall the Palace was a pretty cool experience. Amazing architecture and paintings inside. Felt extremely Royal. Definitely worth checking out seeing as most things I saw inside I couldn't take a picture of.

Christmas Time 

Madrid is lit up all over the place for Christmas time. It's really beautiful. This has been one of the few times in my life where it really feels like a Christmas time of year. Like how they depict in the movies. It's funny walking around NJ and NY this time of year it's less about the visual aesthetics and more about the marketing which is a shame.

There is just such a warm happy feeling when you're walking the street that I truly love and appreciate even if I don't celebrate the holiday myself.

Even my roommates have gotten into the Christmas spirit and have decorated our apartment to give it a little more love.

Now all I need is a Menorah! 

Any way that's it for now. I'll be in Marrakech, Morocco for Christmas and New Years so expect a big post in January when I go into details on my adventure! For now here's a sneak preview of the journey: