How to Deal with the Spanish Bureaucracy


Throughout our visa process, my mother and I have had to deal with Spanish bureaucracy, and I wanted to share some of the good, bad, and ugly of moving to Spain.

A picture of the building we had to apply for our travel permits and residency cards


We applied for our visa in late May this year, and it was fairly straightforward. We had to bring in a large stack of papers and they were stamped and sent to Madrid for approval. The Spanish Consulate in Washington, D.C. told us it would be 2-3 weeks before we were officially approved. For my mom, these were the 3 most stressful weeks of her life. I knew we were going to get it, so I was not worried at all. In the US, we are used to either late or early. I have never even had a package delivered on time, only early or late. On 3 weeks to the day we had our approval. With the visa process, there are few struggles or complications outside of getting a few documents translated and apostilled. You just be prepared for a little bit of wait.


While the Visa was fairly easy to get, the process for our residency was a NIGHTMARE. First, we had to get our Padron, which took like 15 minutes (though it wasn’t delivered for maybe a month) and then we had to make an appointment to get our fingerprints scanned. Of course, we couldn’t leave Spain until we got the fingerprints scanned. We thought that would be simple, but noooooooo we had to make an appointment with the police station with the help of a lawyer. And it wasn’t for a month. Oh, and we couldn’t leave the country until we did. SO, on October 25th, we got our fingerprints scanned. They told us we could pick up our residency cards in 40 days. We walked out like we had just been granted citizenship. Right before we walked out of the front entrance I stopped and asked if we could travel before we got our cards. Of course, the answer was no, not without a travel permit. Of course, the permit is a whole other process.

Lessons Learned

There are so few experiences that do not teach us valuable lessons. In dealing with the Spanish bureaucracy, here are some of the lessons I learned:

  • Do Your research when it comes to appointments
  • Make sure you are setting appointments in your area
  • Set appointments as soon as possible
  • Plan your move when you won’t need to travel outside of the country for at least 3 months


As much as dealing with bureaucracy can be annoying, it is totally worth it to move to such a beautiful country!

Hostel Survival Guide


On October 19, my mom and I took the train to Madrid. We had booked a stay at what we thought was Salamanca Hotel. When we arrived, we realized that it was “Salamanca Hostel,” not hotel. There, I learned many lessons about what to do, and what not to do, when staying at a hostel.


The “apartment” was nice; however, there was one problem: the slats in the middle of my bed broke as soon as I sat down. I didn’t throw myself on the bed, I just sat down. This created a problem for me all night because it felt like my mattress was sinking in the middle. This made it difficult to sleep. However, I was very tired, so it ended up not making too much of a difference. All unfortunate circumstances come with a lesson; I learned that, when staying in a hostel, do not sit in the middle of the bed.


In the “apartment” where my room was located, there were 4 or 5 rooms that shared two bathrooms. I had forgotten to bring flip-flops and so I had to borrow my mother’s to take a shower. The lesson learned here is to always bring flip-flops when you travel, no matter where you are going.

There is another lesson that I learned as it relates to the bathrooms in hostels. Use them early, because a lot of the residents will come home later in the night and you won’t be able to shower without waiting in a line. I discovered this by accident when I took a shower at around 9:30 pm and within 20 minutes of me being done, three or four residents came to the hostel and the bathrooms were occupied within seconds of their arrival.

Living Room

As far as hostels go, Salamanca Hostel is probably very nice. I suppose if the hostel is not so nice, you should not spend a lot of time in the living room. You never know what could be on, or in, a couch or chair.


This was my first time staying in a hostel, but I have passed many in Madrid, and reached the conclusion that Salamanca Hostel is a more “upscale” hostel. With that being said, I still feel that all these lessons are relevant. If you find yourself in a hostel for a night, or even for an extended period, following the tips I have given above is a good way to make your stay more enjoyable!

Instituto Picasso: A Review


I signed up for Spanish lessons at the Instituto Picasso in Malaga. For two weeks I took classes on Mon-Fri that were each 4 hours a day (10 AM – 2 PM). I started on October 7, and I finished on October 18.

Group Classes

The group class I signed up was for two weeks and was VERY intensive. For two weeks I had class 5 days a week for 4 hours a day, but at the end I learned a lot of Spanish. Besides the actual learning of the language I gained a lot of interesting knowledge. I met people from all over the world, including Germany, Ireland, Denmark and Iceland to name a few, and gained some interesting perspective on many topics. You also learn from many teachers (I talked to almost 10 different professors) which allows you to practice speaking to more than one person. Overall, while intensive, I found the experience of the group lessons to be amazing!


While I never had a one on one tutor at Instituto Picasso, my mother did, and she has told me a lot about her experience. There is more flexibility with tutoring because you are not bound by the 4 hour a day schedule that the classes are. While my mother did one-hour-a-day lessons, they have more options. The only real issue, in my opinion, is that there is less organization with tutoring. My mom ended up having 4 hour-and-15-minute sessions instead of the 5 1-hour-long sessions she was supposed to have. I definitely recommend that you do group lessons instead, but if you end up opting for a tutor, please request Jorge.


My two-week experience at Instituto Picasso was nothing short of amazing and I will definitely be signing up again! I met many amazing people, both classmates and professors, and even made a few friends. I recommend group classes over tutoring, however both will teach you a lot about the Spanish language and culture! If you would like, you can learn more at !

The Joker: Moviegoing in Malaga


On Friday, October 12, I went to see the Joker in theaters with my friend Isaac. This is the story, along with a few lessons I learned about moviegoing in Malaga, and a small review of the movie.

Joaquin Phoenix as Joker


I had seen that there was a 5:45 PM movie time, perfect for us to go to. So at 5:00, we both left, Isaac by bus and I walked. We got up to the machine to order tickets and noticed that it said the movie was in Spanish and that the only time for the movie in English was at 9 unless we went to the theater in Plaza Mayor and saw it at 7. We took the train to Plaza Mayor and got our tickets. Yelmo Cines is now my personal recommendation because the tickets were basically free compared to AMC in the states. Two tickets cost less than the equivalent of $17.50. Food was still fairly expensive, but compared to the states, it was still cheaper.

Joker: A Movie Revies

The Joker has gained a lot of attention, both positive and negative. For one there is the hype. A lot of people say Phoenix’s acting is Oscar worthy. While it is excellent, I don’t know about Oscar worthy. The movie itself was very good, but very much overhyped. The negative attention has all been about how it could inspire mass shootings or violence in general. In my opinion, this movie could not possibly cause or inspire violence in anyone who would not do it anyway.

Overall I would rate the movie 4.5/5 stars and would recommend it to anyone who likes DC movies/comics.

Lessons Learned

  • When watching a movie in Spain make sure it says “VOSE” (Version Originale Subtitles Español) or else it will be in Spanish
  • Subtitles can help you learn a lot about Spanish, but it is better to know a little bit of Spanish first


Joker was a very good movie, though a little overhyped, and Yelmo Cines is a very good movie theater to watch it, or another movie, in.

Fafa’s Visit


My aunt Rafah (my mother’s sister who I call Fafa) came to visit us for 10 days. While I cannot possibly write about all the fun and excitement that we experienced during her visit, I want to write about some of the highlights.

Malaga through a different set of eyes

Me, Fafa, and my mom (left to right) on a walk in which we discovered new things thanks to Fafa.

I have been living in Malaga for now a month, so the way I see Malaga is, for the most part, through the eyes of someone who lives here. My aunt saw Malaga through very different lenses: those of someone visiting for a short time. There are things I either see differently or, in some cases, miss entirely. For example, I had walked through Plaza Merced probably a million times. In the middle of the Plaza, there is an obelisk. I had seen it, but I had never noticed any of the details on it until she pointed them out. I had also not noticed an antique shop that I had walked by probably thousands of times at that point.


The view from the beach near the restaurant that we ate lunch at

My aunt has been here before, and one of her favorite destinations is Benalmadena, specifically this one restaurant called La Cala. We went there and had the most amazing view. The service was only ok, but the food was very good. Afterwards we walked to the nearby beach and took pictures together. After we walked on, we realized we were thirsty and stopped at a seemingly nondescript café. To our surprise, we had the most amazing mojitos (sin alcohol, of course!).


Over the summer, my family and I played cards almost every night. My mom and I had not continued this tradition, though. When Fafa came to visit, we resumed the tradition. We started playing a game called Concan. I had learned how to play it before but had forgottenthe rules. Fafa and my mom made the mistake of teaching me; I won almost every single game (although there were also quite a few embarrassing losses). You may think, “who the hell plays cards when in Malaga?” The reality is that the time spent playing is also time spent bonding, remembering the most important events of the day, and generally sharing thoughts with family members.


La Plaza in Plaza Merced has the best smoothies!

Fafa encouraged us to start taking part in more healthy activities. Going for walks throughout the day, socializing with each other at night, turning off our phones an hour before bed, and having smoothies everyday are just a few examples. I don’t know if I would say she is the only reason we adopted all these, but she certainly did push us to do better with some things. Another Fafa-Positive-habit is slowing down, appreciating what you are doing, and experiencing the after-doing. I think other people call this “mindfulness.”


Fafa has a funny way of ranking restaurants. If the bathroom is nice AND clean, then the restaurant must be nice as well, in her eyes. While there is some validity to this system, we all had a good laugh even though we discovered some truly unlikely awesome spots.


Malaga is a great place to live, especially if you have family members who want to come and visit you. But remember this: just because you live there, does not mean your guest can not teach you a thing or two about your new home.

Barcelona Trip


My trip to Barcelona was from September 16 – 21. A friend of my mother’s lives in Barcelona. He was going on a business trip and offered us his apartment for a few days. We happily accepted. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for allowing this amazing trip to be possible!

First Day: Sitges

My mom and I timed our trip to be there a day before her friend left for Germany. After exploring Air BNB for an hour, we decided that staying in Barcelona was not the best option because we found an amazing place not far from Barcelona that was less than two miles from the beach. We each did a little bit of work, her on proposals and me on content design for one of my Instagram accounts (you can follow @the.dailyentrepreneur to see what I designed) and then walked to the beach for dinner.  Afterwards, we went home, and my mom worked some more, and I watched some of the Jets game before going to bed.

Barcelona Day 1

On the first day we were in Barcelona, my mom’s friend greeted us and showed us the ins and outs of his apartment. It is a very nice apartment near a downtown shopping area. It is also near plenty of restaurants and 24-hour grocery stores, both of which came in handy several times. Afterwards we went to a brunch place that was less than a block away. The restaurant is called El Arbol Brunch ARIBAU. If you are ever in Barcelona, you must check it out. We then hung out in the apartment for a little bit and I took a nap because I had not gotten much sleep the night before. We then walked around, got some travel toiletries. For dinner, we stopped at a ramen/pho restaurant that I never got the name of. All I have to say is that the ramen in Spain is much better than in DC.

Barcelona Day 2

On the second day of our trip we had breakfast from the Granier. Afterwards I went to the gym. The gym in Barcelona is much nicer than the one in Malaga (our membership is with a chain which is nice for traveling) but it was kind of annoying that it was 5 floors and each floor had a different purpose (i.e. one floor was the locker room, another was for cardio and another was for weights.) Afterwards, my mom and I had lunch at the brunch place from the day before (we ate there all but one day out of loyalty) and then I read part of my new book: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I highly recommend this book for any entrepreneur and especially for people who feel that they want to improve their people skills. We then did some shopping and had dinner at a restaurant near our apartment. Afterwards, we had a sort of family movie night and watched part of The Great Gatsby.

Barcelona Days 3 and 4

On our third day in Barcelona we went about our normal routine (I went to the gym, read a little bit, we went for a walk, etc.) when we stumbled upon GBSB, a local business school in Barcelona. I stopped in and asked about meeting with someone to ask some questions and the receptionist took down my contact information. The next day while I was walking to the gym I got a call to make an appointment for an interview, so I set the appointment for the next day (Friday, September 20) and after my workout I went shopping for a shirt. Again, we had dinner near our apartment and on the third and fourth days of our trip we watched a little more of the movie.

Barcelona Day 5

On the morning of September 20 we ate at the brunch place with the friend of my mother’s friend who let us stay in his apartment. Afterwards, I wrote an essay for my class. Then I went to the gym and went back home and got ready for my interview at GBSB. I got there and it turned out that they had not told me my interview was over the phone. I felt a little annoyed because I had gotten dressed up for the interview, but I did the interview in a conference room, went home and then my mom and I went out. We went to El Corte Ingles and did more shopping and afterwards we were walking home and saw a protest. At first we assumed environment, but after seeing a few signs and reading them as best we could (they were in Spanish) we came to the conclusion that it was a protest against violence. We then went to another restaurant near the apartment and went home to pack for the journey home the next day.


The flight to Barcelona was very smooth. We had a small delay but took off within a half-hour of the listed time which, by our standards, is good. Part 7 of The Ranch had just come out on Netflix and I was able to download it from home in Malaga, so I was all set. Besides, the flight was under 2 hours.

The flight back was not nearly as smooth. As soon as we got to the gate after rushing across the airport, we got an E-Mail that said we would be delayed two and half hours. I asked at the gate and they said they weren’t sure and that it could be longer. My mom and I were preparing for the worst. After what felt like 5 hours (it was like an hour and a half) we boarded the plane and took off. Once again, the flight itself was smooth.

I highly recommend flying with Vueling.Com for any of your travels inside Europe. I am concerned about their baggage checking system (they don’t protect the checked luggage with a tarp like I’m used to with United and other larger airlines) and I would not fly with them if you are pressed on time but, overall, it was a very good experience!


Barcelona is probably my 3rd favorite city in the WORLD. It combines aspects of Paris and New York City, my 2nd and 1st favorite cities, respectively. I’d like to thank my mom for her hard work, and her friend for letting us stay in his apartment, for making this trip possible!

First Week Back in Malaga


I had to go to the US for about a month to get my visa, take the SAT, help my dad and brother move in, and see some friends and family. Then, on August 28, my mom and I flew back to Malaga to start our year in Spain.


We flew on Aer Lingus, an airline I had never flown on before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. On the flight to Dublin, some of the flight attendants were a little bit rude, but overall the flight experience was enjoyable. I can’t talk much about the flight from Dublin to Malaga because I was asleep the whole time.


On Thursday of last week, we landed in Malaga and after getting our bags we went to our apartment (pictures available on my Instagram @herethereneverywhere) and settled in. We talked with our landlords about some of the specifics, and then went out to lunch. When we got back my mom took a nap and I forced myself to stay up (a mistake I would regret later.) When she woke up, we walked around and had dinner on the port. Walking home, I was so tired I swear I almost fell asleep in the street. When we got home, I sat down on my bed and passed out. From 9 pm to around 12 am I slept like a baby. And then I couldn’t sleep again until 5 or 6. Jet lag had clearly struck.


On Friday, after a terrible night of sleep, my mom and I went to see about WiFi for our apartment. We couldn’t get WiFi until we had a bank account, which we couldn’t get until we got residency (at most banks) which would take a month. No Bueno. So, we started that process on Wednesday by figuring out papers we needed to get. Then we went home for a nap (this time, I made the smart decision to just sleep.) We ended up sleeping about three hours then went to explore our neighborhood. We went to the Dia (think Safeway but much smaller and just as crowded) to get stuff for dinner. We then had a relaxing night of playing Europoly (monopoly, but with European cities instead of properties) and walked around Malaga a little bit.


Friday night we slept about 12 hours (yes, 12) so we decided since half the day was already over, we should get some important housing stuff done and went to Ikea by bus. We got a lot of stuff we needed and learned where a lot of the stuff our landlord had gotten for the apartment. I had not been to an Ikea since I was probably five, so we had to get the Swedish meatballs for dinner. I’d heard good things, but they exceeded expectations.


On Sunday we had a semi-relaxing day (although, I did have to take care of some assignments earlier in the day) and an early dinner at PizzaMore, after which we walked down to the beach and the port. I have to say, even though I’m not a beach person, the views from the beach and port are gorgeous (I’ll post a picture on my Instagram @herethereneverywhere.)


On Monday we took an Uber to the office where we thought we were going to get our residency card. Of course, nothing ever works out how you think it will. We ended up in a lawyer’s office to get our paperwork sorted. We found out that we couldn’t until the 24th… of October. So, we walked into about 345678987678 banks and finally got a non-resident account and then went to Orange to get WiFi and phones. Afterwards I got a haircut and we walked home. Overall, Monday was a long and tiring, yet productive, day.


Tuesday was a much needed mostly-work day for the most part. I started my day by going for a run (great way to increase productivity) and then walked to a café to work. I got two assignments done and was able to do a lot of internship work. Wednesday was more of the same.


Looking back on the first week, I am so in love with Spain and feel blessed to have the opportunity to do my senior year here.

5 Best Lessons I Learned While in Spain


I feel like while I was in Spain (for the vacation portion of my year abroad) I learned a lot of lessons for travel in general, too many to write in one blog post, so I want to share the 5 most important ones.

Lesson one: Learn some of the language

When traveling to a country, it is very important to learn some of the language. I highly recommend that you learn how to say “where is (insert place you go often)” as well as hello, bye, please, thank you and other pleasantries. I also highly recommend that you learn how to order food. For France and Spain, it’s really easy if you know English since all you really need to learn how to say is “and,” “please” and “thank you.”

Lesson two: Always have cash

Assuming you are a gullible tourist like myself, you will need to always have cash. Most of the “tourist traps” are cash only businesses and for the service-based businesses they usually don’t tell you the cash only part until you are getting ready to pay.

Lesson three: Use trusted websites for renting apartments

I think I may have said this in just about all my blog posts so far and I will say it every day until I die. Using something new can be enticing, however, if you don’t do your research you can be scammed very easily. My personal recommendation is Airbnb, however, if you know of any other ones that are trustworthy that should work as well.

Lesson four: Download movies before your trip

If you are like me and watch as little tv as possible (that’s very much a lie) but watch tv on the plane I highly recommend downloading stuff for the flight to and from your destination beforehand. You may have trouble downloading on Netflix in a foreign country or you may end up with really bad Wifi that won’t download movies or tv shows.

Lesson five: Pack light, shop while there

When I went to Spain I packed light, but not light enough. I ended up borrowing space in my brother’s suitcase to pack clothes. Besides the packing issue, you can get a lot of really nice clothes in foreign countries you may not be able to find in your country.

Lesson 6: A bonus lesson for entrepreneurs

When on vacation it is really easy to find a way to make a small amount of income that takes less than an hour a day. Finding it can lead to so much more, so I highly recommend doing it. Just remember that even if you’re not making a ton of money it’s better than nothing and it’s a stepping stone.


Following these 5 (6) lessons you can maximize your enjoyment and/or success of your vacation or travel in general.



My family and I stayed in Fuengirola for almost three weeks to end our monthlong stay in Spain.


The grilled calamari at Europa is the best Calamari I’ve ever had

Having gone to many restaurants, it would be hard to talk about all the ones I’ve been to so I’ll talk about two of my favorite places: Europa (see on trip advisor) and Munchies (see on trip advisor.)

Europa is the best place in Fuengirola for seafood, meat, Italian, and really anything you want to eat. The owner owns three restaurants all next to each other and most of the wait staff runs back and forth between all three. The service is ok, however, when you ask for the check, be prepared to wait 20-40 minutes (yes, we actually waited that long.)

Munchies is the best place in Fuengirola. They boast about the best burger on the coast. When my dad saw the sign he laughed. We eventually tried it and it was the best burger on all coasts in my opinion. My only advice is to not order a double. the service is great, the owner is nice and it’s cleaner than any burger place I’ve been to in the states.


In Fuengirola, most traffic circles have some sort of statue

Sights in Fuengirola are just about everywhere. There’s a square by the beach that has a carousel, several statues and it’s always active at night (see nightlife section of this post) and the views of the beach are amazing as well.


I’ve never actually been to Area 51 but I thought it was funny that a bar in Spain is named after Area 51.

Fuengirola has many bars, clubs and restaurants open late. A lot of the places on the main street are really expensive however some are either fairly cheap or have good deals you can take advantage. A lot of the places that are not on the main street seem ok, but if someone approaches you to try and show you a club, don’t go to the club they are promoting. I went to one and I didn’t go in after I saw that it was a strip club.


The picture on Air BNB of the apartment we stayed in.

I love the apartment we stayed in, the only downside was that we didn’t have WiFi. The view was ok, the location was amazing. We were near everything. We couldn’t walk a block without being near something.


The view from the beach was amazing everywhere.

My brother and I went to the beach every day and every couple days my dad, mom, or both would join us. While I don’t love the beach (in fact I actually hate it) it ended up being fun most days. I definitely recommend getting paddles and a ball for while you’re there.

Just the Guys

One of the most interesting experiences of my life was being with my dad and brother without my mom. She left Fuengirola on July 3 and my brother, my dad and I stayed in Fuengirola for about two weeks. None of us speak Spanish very well (or at all) so it was fun trying to get around that significant barrier.

Lessons Learned

  • It is important to know how to order food in whatever language the country you are visiting speaks
  • If you rent an apartment, unless you have work that needs it, don’t make wifi a priority because you could miss out on a nice place.
  • Going for a run most mornings is good for your body and will energize you for the day
  • Trying new foods is good, especially when new foods is grilled Calamari


I’ll be sad to leave Spain, but I know I’ll be back soon and I’m excited to see my friends for a little bit. I’m also excited knowing that when I come back in late August or early September I will be able to move to Malaga.



When I first came to Spain, I was in Madrid. That was June 17. I feel like I can’t tell the story of my year abroad without talking about where it all started: Madrid.


View from the 2nd apartment we stayed in

A lot of apartments in Madrid are very nice. I have personally only stayed in two, however, when looking into the window of a real-estate company’s building I saw pictures of many great apartments. The first apartment we looked at was a MAJOR disappointment (see my post about Spotahome to see what I mean about said disappointment) but the first one we stayed at was perfect. My mom was almost ready to stay there for the whole summer, however it was booked the next day. We then went to a second apartment and that was where I truly fell in love with the apartments in Madrid. The second apartment was a penthouse about three blocks from the apartment we first stayed in. We actually wanted to go back there after our coastal trip (see to learn more about the coastal trip) but the apartment was booked.


The restaurant outside of our first apartment had many interesting paintings (or posters of paintings)

The food in Madrid (or more specifically the neighborhood of Sol where we stayed) was some of the best I’ve ever had. Our first night we ate at a restaurant that my brother claims to be the restaurant of all time (he’s not too far off) called Gusto’s (see to reserve a table there.) Many of the other restaurants were good but none can compare to Gusto’s.


The statue in the middle of Plaza Mayor is one of my favorite sites in Spain.

The sights in Madrid are basically on every block. Every block has something different. The views from the apartments were amazing. The views from the sidewalk were equally amazing. The statues in Plaza Major were beautiful and attracted many people day and night. Going to Madrid to sightsee in Sol is worth the trip to Madrid.

Lessons Learned

  • Don’t use Spotahome
  • Always be willing to walk for good food
  • The night is the best time to sight see


If you are going to go to Spain, Madrid is almost a requirement and while you are there you should either be staying in, or visiting, the neighborhood of Sol.