The Student Visa Process: Cheap Programs in Spain for North Americans.

On Tuesday I finished handing my paperwork for my student visa in Spain, I will be studying in Salamanca, Spain for the upcoming year at their international school. A lot of people at my university in the US have asked me how I am affording all of this, since I am not rich. Courses in Spain that are conducted by institutes, academies, and universities in Spain are surprisingly cheap in comparison to programs conducted by American schools. I have compiled a list of various programs in Spain here and will be following this article with the steps involved in obtaining a student visa.

Short Courses: 2 weeks- 2 months

There are a number of schools in Spain and Spanish courses for foreigners is a huge business. In Salamanca alone there are 12 different schools. If you just walk down Gran Via and Plaza Mayor or a few other major streets you will definitely see a language school with a sign that says “Curso de Español para Extranjeros”. Most credible schools will have a web page with a variety of courses including their prices and duration.

Many schools only offer 1-3 month intensive courses in Spanish. These courses are great if that is all the time you have and really economical compared to courses sponsored by American Schools, but keep in mind they wont be accredited by North American universities.

If you are looking for a short course look at The Instituto Cervantes website for accredited centers. Here they list all of the centers that have language courses that this Spanish Language learning Authority deems worthy.

Long Courses (6 months- Academic Year)

  • If you are looking for more than just a month in Spain there are a number of Spanish Universities that have international courses in Spain. Three of which I have placed here since those are the ones I am familiar with. I am sure there are more and the list will continue to grow:

University of Salamanca

University of Granada

University of Barcelona

For any amount of time you wish to spend dedicated to learning Spanish there are going to be courses that will help you do that. This list will be on going and if you know of more programs that are not listed I would be glad to add them.

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Myths of Studying Abroad: Fluency

Every year thousands ,although I wish it were more, of  American students choose study abroad. Many go with various expectations. However, I find that many students get the wrong Idea going into it and often they are left disappointed upon departure back to their home. So let me clear some things up for any student or parent’s of students that are studying abroad in the upcoming years.

The Myth: 

“When I get back I am going to be so fluent in my chosen language that I will speak like a native.” 

While yes there are cases where students go abroad after years of studying and become very comfortable and fluid in the language. Many students who go abroad have only studied the language for 2-3 years and it would be outrageous to think that in 3 months, or even a years time, that you would be able to learn and have enough practice with the language to be able to speak like a native.

Fluency, is a word that should be taken out of the language learners mentality. It gives the false impression that you have reached this level where you no longer have to work on the language and can conduct yourself in all topics, No. Language learning is an ongoing process that never stops and the learner needs to continuously work on adding new words and remembering old ones. It becomes a lot easier as time goes on and yes there becomes a point where the language feels natural to you, but is there a point where you can say, “Today I am fluent, but yesterday I was not?” No.

Conclusion:

Parents and friends: Don’t expect them to be able to go abroad for 3 months and then come back and be language gods.

Students: Just enjoy yourself and accept that language learning is an ongoing thing, that there are going to be awkward moments when you have NO idea what they are saying, and just strive to be a better speaker than you were the day before.  Don’t be discouraged by little mistakes, even natives make mistakes when speaking.

Guide to working in Europe for Americans: Germany

Germany is possibly one of the easiest countries in the EU for Americans to find work. Unlike the previous post, Spain, the German government has a relatively easy and straight forward approach to working in their country. If you find a job, then you can work there. Granted, only if you have a bachelors degree already.

Finding a Job on your own. 

For Americans there are two ways of getting a work permit, before you arrive in the country at the various consulate offices throughout the U.S. or after you have arrived already.

Steps to finding a job in Germany.

Step 1: Find a job: The following databases can be used to finding employment within the European Union.

Step 2: Upon Arrival to Germany: stop in at the local Ausländeram (Alien’s Office) and turn in the following papers:

    • two fully completed application forms and required declaration in duplicate
    • two passport photographs
    • valid national passport and two copies of the data page (Please note these important regulations concerning your travel document/passport:
      (a) its validity has to extend the duration of the visa you are applying for by at least 3 months
      (b) it has to contain at least two blank pages;
      (c) it must have been issued within the previous 10 years. If it has been issued before that, your passport can not be accepted. That even even applies in cases where the validity has been extended by the authorities of your home country.
    • employment contract or letter of intent from your future employer inGermany and two copies thereof
    • your driver’s license and/or utility bill in your name as proof of residence in the consular district where you plan to apply
    • Visa fee.
-From www.Germany.info

 Programs

Due to the relative ease of earning working papers in Germany for Americans there seem to be a lack of programs sponsored by the government or independent groups that don’t require a fee. However, there is one organization that provides scholarships and funding for study:

German Academic Exchange Service 

DAAD offers stipends for German study and exchanges in Germany for North American students and post-graduates.

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The job market in Germany for Americans is the most open out of all the EU countries. If you are looking for a way to work in the EU this is a great opportunity, however, keep in mind that Germany is very proud of their language and while they are accepting to foreigners coming in they are not accepting to foreigners not learning their language. Upon applying for a residence visa the officer will assess your language skills and if he sees that you have a limited knowledge of the German language you will be required to take classes through an Integration Course. More information here.

In Graz, Austria

      So I have been here in Graz, Austria for about a week and a half, still with my German lacking the proper level. The things that I do like about Austria are: the amazing scenery,  mountains, and how the city just seems to perfectly fit around all the rolling hills.

     The only thing it is missing is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is from a little outside of here, to start yodeling from on top of the clock tower pictured above.

The purpose of this blog is not to give descriptive summaries of cities that I visit, although sometimes that may happen, but instead the purpose is to give a first hand account of an American who has come to Europe to not just visit, but to live. Hopefully I can be of help to other Americans who want to do the same.