I love my life in Spain, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes (okay, a lot), it can be a bit unwelcoming to foreigners, and especially to Americans. Let me give you two examples from this past week:
- I went to go open a bank account. I go in, take a number, and wait my turn to talk to someone just like everyone else. I tell the lady I’d like to open an account, and tell her which kind specifically because I’ve read about them beforehand. Great! She’s friendly, seems eager to gain a new client, all is going well. Until I start pulling out all my paperwork. She takes one look at my passport. Oh, you’re American. I thought you were German (which I seem to get a lot here). That complicates things. You have this long list of hoops to jump through. Oh look! You’re missing one little thing. Too bad. Sorry, but I can’t help you.
- This weekend I went to go chat with a lady about taking on some classes at a private academy. She was fantastic, incredibly organized, had an entire curriculum for me to follow, and it all sounded great. Then she tells me about pay. It will be X number of euros after deductions. Deductions? What? I sadly informed her that I’m here on a student visa because my job is technically a grant. Spain makes this differentiation for non-Europeans in this program because it’s a hell of a lot easier getting a student visa than a work visa. This also means that technically I’m not authorized to work, meaning I can’t be on the payroll for this very official academy. She and I are both shattered when we make this discovery. She wanted to hire me. I’m a native English speaker, and that’s all she cares about. But one little word on some paperwork is preventing that.
|Documents that send up red flags. Warning! American!|
Some days I just want to grab someone by the shoulders and shake some sense into them. My fellow auxiliars and I are here to teach English. To encourage the exchange of ideas and cultures. To broaden children’s horizons. These are all good things, so stop treating us like we’re some kind of vermin responsible for the country’s current crisis, as they love to talk about.
But then I remember that it’s the middle of October and I just spent a whole weekend on the beach, sipping cervezas and eating at chiringuitos, and I love Spain. Then I remember that my first language being English (whether or not from Europe) is what makes my life possible, and being American isn’t so bad either.