The Nice People at the Consulate, pt1: The Path to the Path to Spain

(This series aims to fill in about the logistical work I’ve done up to this point. It goes over some of my thought and decision process in choosing a country and a program)

This post series goes out to the nice people at the SF Spain Consulate who have helped lead me toward the direction I need to go. ¡Muchísimas gracias!

When I first got to looking up the consulate a couple months ago I noticed that they have two stars on yelp and lots of angry people saying that their appointments were completely disregarded. Some people wrote angrily about a two hour wait as the employees casually chatted behind the glass. Other people mentioned times where at the end of the long wait they were sent home because they lacked a certain document or didn’t know exactly what to ask about to whom.

I wasn’t particularly excited to join the ranks of these jaded yelp people. After a couple meek attempts to reach them on the phone (which always resulted in several minutes of ringing and me giving up), I let myself forget about it. “Maybe I’m not even prepared enough to talk to them anyway. I still have almost no idea what I’m doing” I thought.

This thought was pretty accurate in a way. In the last few months of spring semester I had read through most of the websites Study In Europe and Studying in Spain. For thoroughness purposes I also had, incidentally, gone through almost every country on the Europe page to compare the options in different countries. I particularly spent a long time on the Germany page, the Spain page, the numerous pages about studying First Cycle (aka BA) in English, and the tuition fee price comparison page. (For more on the process of choosing a country and program please see the choosing)

However, despite my research, all I knew at this point was that I needed some validation of my highschool transcript and I needed to take a test probably. Oh, and the application deadlines may be in the winter or fall or early summer, but much later than US apps for sure. Oh, and there may or may not be student housing that may or may not be separate from the school. “You may want to contact your consulate, or the school, but they’ll probably tell you to contact your consulate – who will tell you to contact your school. You also need to choose a program – oh and you probably can’t transfer any liberal arts credits you have haha good luck”

This may sound like quite a good base of information, or maybe it doesn’t. But if you think it does, consider getting on a plane with it and dumping yourself off in the arms of a distant country’s school system where everything is in a language you can only understand if people speak reeaaalllyy slooowwwllyyyy and suddenly it holds all the substance of a passing cloud.

Look how soft! I’m sure it’s like a flying pillow

“Hold on!” you say, “We’re not talking about leaving today, this is just for you to go ask someone about all this stuff at the consulate.” This is a good point. I wasn’t sure that the consulate could help me with such vague and general questions. I was pretty much asking them to explain everything to me. When I got there I learned they couldn’t do that, because a lot of information depends on the school or other stuff just around the city. I was, however, apparently able to be specific desperate-looking enough.

Upon arriving to the tall old building on the steep hill gingerly walk past the frustrated waiting-room full of people to the glass

The Choosing *train picture*


My language abilities cut a lot of countries out of the running which either didn’t offer English BA programs, or offered ones I wasn’t interested in, like business. Or they just charged a significantly higher tuition for English programs.

However, although I am not going to consider tackling a degree any language. I am a fan of languages, and I wasn’t closed off to the idea. For a while I was even considering getting a degree in linguistics. All things considered, I have two viable options. I could study in Swedish, but to study in Sweden I almost wouldn’t need to. Also the cost of non-EU tuition was higher than the cost I was paying at my US college, not to mention the cost of living. -So that’s that.

Secondly, I’ve had a pretty solid amount of exposure to Spanish between my turbulent school years and a brief stint of independent learning and movie-watching my senior year of high school. It seemed feasible that after a year of study I could be fluent enough to take the SAT-like entrance exam and do my degree in Spanish. This way, I would also have a much greater variety of programs to choose from, many at a lower cost!

That being said, several friends advised me that it may be smarter to stick to English because I will be dealing with enough mental exhaustion, and studying in another language can be really difficult and slow. Some of these friends themselves were studying in a foreign language – English, and were speaking from personal experience.

Still, though, the idea of cross-lingual study excited me so I did some fishing around the internet. I found this article written by a Korean student studying in Canada. He reflects on his struggles to express himself in a foreign tongue, and on challenging his sense of self in the vulnerable, “childlike” and “ambiguous space of studying in a foreign language”. Please don’t this as a sufficient summary, and read it! He goes into it on a much deeper and more complex level than I can paraphrase, plus in all honesty I read it fully a few months ago.


Suffice it to say, this whole educational experience is about vulnerability and challenge – and ambiguity! Great! Sign me up!



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