Cash Converters

Up-coming and returning auxiliares: you are going love this!

  • Are you looking for DVDs that you can use in your European dvd player?
  • Need a bicycle or skateboard to get around town?
  • Do you need to replace that camera that just died or drowned in the ocean?
  • Did your hair straightener or blow dryer die?
  • Need extra cash until the Junta pays you?

Go and check out Cash n’ Converters. It’s a pawn shop that sells great cheap second-hand items. I personally haven’t sold anything there but I’ve bought things from there. My apartment came with a sweet European dvd player but sadly without any dvds. Our Australian friend Morgan told us about Cash n’ Converters after buying a second-hand skateboard for 20 euros. We took a gander and found cheap things like guitars, jewelry, blow dryers, cameras, blenders, tricycles, etc! We found dvds 5 for 4 euros. And no, not the crappy ones but ones like The Wedding Singer, Maid in Manhattan and Disturbia. We saw digital cameras for about 30 euros and DSLRs for 2-300 euros. Blow dryers and straighteners were being sold for 10-20 euros, definitely cheaper than buying it from El Corte Ingles. So wherever you are auxiliares, just check out their website and get cheap stuff to fill up your apartment or make your life easier in Spain!

One of the best finds in Malaga

[After reading this, I just realized it sounds like a cheesy infomercial. But hey! At least I recognized it haha.]

Categories: Sarai Quiel, Spain, Tips, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You know you’ve lived in Spain when…

1) You think adding lemonade, fanta or even coke to red wine is perfectly acceptable. Especially at lunch time.

2) You can’t get over how early bars & clubs shut back home – surely they’re shutting just as you should be going out?

3) You aren’t just surprised that the plumber/decorator has turned up on time, you’re surprised he turned up at all.

4) You’ve been part of a botellon.

Be careful not to end up like this bro haha
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5) You think it’s fine to comment on everyone´s appearance. And to openly stare at strangers.

6) Not giving every new acquaintance dos besos seems so rude.

7) You’re shocked by people getting their legs out at the first hint of sun – surely they should wait until at least late June?

8) On msn you sometimes type ‘jajaja’ instead of ‘hahaha’

9) You think the precious aceite is a vital part of every meal. And don’t understand how anyone could think olive oil on toast is weird.

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10) You’re amazed when TV ad breaks last less than half an hour, especially right before the end of films.

11) You forget to say please when asking for things – you implied it in your tone of voice, right?

12) You love the phenomenon of giving ‘toques’ – but hate explaining it in English

14) You don’t see sunflower seeds as a healthy snack – they’re just what all the cool kids eat.

15) You know what a pijo is and how to spot one.

Pijos are the preppy posh people from up north like Madrid or Barcelona

16) Every sentence you speak contains at least one of these words: ‘bueno,’ ‘coño,’ ‘vale,’ ‘venga,’ ‘pues nada’…

17) You know what ‘resaca’ means. And you probably had one at least once a week when you lived in Spain.

18) You know how to eat boquerones.

boquerones en vinagre.. YUMM

19) A bull’s head on the wall of a bar isn’t a talking point for you, it’s just a part of the decor.

20) You eat lunch after 2pm & would never even think of having your evening meal before 9.

21) You know that after 2pm there’s no point in going shopping, you might as well just have a siesta until 5 when the shops re-open.

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22) If anyone insults your mother, they better watch out…

23) You know how to change a bombona. And if you don’t, you were either lazy or lucky enough to live somewhere nice.

24) It’s not rude to answer the intercom to your flat by asking ‘Quien?’ (or maybe that was just my flatmate…)

25) You don’t accept beer that’s anything less than ice-cold.

There’s nothing better than a Cruzcampo and olives

26) The fact that all the male (or female) members of a family have the same first name doesn’t surprise you.

27) The sound of mopeds in the background is the soundtrack to your life.

28) You know that the mullet didn’t just happen in the 80s. It is alive and well in Spain.

Torres STILL looks hot even with his mullet!

29) You know the difference between cojones and cajones, tener calor and estar caliente, bacalao and bakalao, pollo and polla, estar hecho polvo and echar un polvo…and maybe you learned the differences the hard way!

30) On a Sunday morning, you have breakfast before going to bed, not after you get up.

31) You don’t see anything wrong with having a couple of beers in the morning if you feel like it.

32) Floors in certain bars are an ideal dumping ground for your colillas, servilletas etc. Why use a bin?!

33) You see clapping as an art form, not just a way to express approval.

34) You know ensaladilla rusa has nothing to do with Russia.

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35) When you burst out laughing every time you see a Mitsubishi Pajero

36) You have friends named Jesus, Jose Maria, Maria Jose, Angel, maybe even Inmaculada Concepcion…

37) You know that ‘ahora’ doesn’t really mean now. Hasta ahora, ahora vuelvo…etc

38) When you make arrangements to meet friends at 3, the first person turns up at 3.15…if you’re lucky!

39) Central heating is most definitely a foreign concept. In winter, you just huddle around the heater under the table & pull the blanket up over your knees…and sleep with about 5 blankets on your bed!

40) Most women under 30 own a pair of those attractive ‘Aladdin’ style trousers with the crotch around the knees (you know what I mean!)

I’m a fan of these pants!
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41) Aceite de oliva is ‘muy sano’, of course. So you help yourself to a bit more.

42) When women think that clear bra straps are in fact invisible.

43) When it’s totally normal for every kitchen to have a deep-fat fryer but no kettle.

44) Te cagas en la leche….

45) To avoid that cheap Eristoff vodka you have to ask for ‘un esmirnoff’

46) When you know what a guiri is / have been called one

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47) When you add ‘super’ in front of any adjective for emphasis

48) When it’s completely normal for men and women to have at least one facial piercing

49) When you pay for something that’s, say, 8.50, you always ask, ‘Quieres el cincuenta?’

50) Blonde girls actually start to think their name is ‘rubia’

51) When you accept that paying with a 50 euro note is going to get you a dirty look if you’re buying something that costs less than 40 euros

52) If something is great, it’s ‘de puta madre’

53) You can eat up to 5 times a day – first breakfast, 2nd breakfast around 11.30, almuerzo, merienda, cena

54) You know the jingle for Los Cuarenta Principales…

55) If you see someone wearing a T-shirt with something written on it in English, you can almost guarantee it won’t make sense.

56) When you go into a bank/bakery etc, it’s standard practice to ask ‘Quien es la ultima?’

57) Who needs a dryer when you have a washing line outside the window of your apartment?

My worst nightmare

58) You know what ‘marcha’ and ‘juerga’ are. (Of course!)

59) You are more likely to call your friends tio/a, nena, chaval, macho or even tronco than their real name.

60) Love it or hate it, you can’t escape reggaeton.

I found this on Facebook and thought it was hilariously right! Thanks to for sharing!

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Private Classes

There are three things I love to do in Spain: travel, go out at night and shop. Our €700 a month isn’t enough money for me to do all those things plus pay my bills like rent, electricity, water, internet and groceries. From the beginning of October, I started private classes with Elena, a German woman who started her own business by supplying tutors to those who want language classes. These classes usually last for a whole school year, meaning I’ll have stable work (with my same students) until I leave. Awesome, right? On Tuesdays, I have (2) children for 45 minutes, (3) pre-teens for 1 hour and (1) teenager for 1 hour and on Thursdays I have (1) teenager for 1 hour. For November’s work, I’ll approximately make about €200 which pretty much covers my bill expenses, leaving my €700 free for travel, going out and shopping, thus making a happy Sarai.

All smiles for monies

What do I do in my private classes? For my 2 little kids (ages 5 and 6), I use my school’s bilingual workbook because what they’re learning in school coincides with what I’m teaching in my school. So they’re learning things like parts of the body, fruits and vegetables and next week they’ll get to learn about Thanksgiving. For my pre-teens, it’s harder. I usually do homework with them if they have any and if we have time leftover, I make them read articles about their “places they want to travel” and if I’ve been there, I usually show them my private photos of those places which they enjoy. Instead of focusing on academics and grammar with the pre-teens, I try to steer them more into conversation because they know English grammar better than I do but talking in English is the worst for them. As my for my teenager, I absolutely adore him and our class. The first day of class, his mother informed me that she only wanted straight conversation with him so he can speak more fluidly. Every time I see him, I bring articles for him to read and practice words and then we talk for the majority of time. Usually I bring a ‘themed’ conversation worksheet like “Pets and Animals” that gives me questions to ask and that usually prompts us to have our own conversation about our experiences. His class is always my least stressful and most fun.

Here’s a video I think really shows how hard and hilarious pronouncing English is for non-natives.

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I’m legal now!

After 39 days of waiting, I finally received my TIE card from La Comisaria de Policia! I was so excited for this card and I don’t even know why!?

Residency card 

And Lenny and I finally received our Sanitas card. Just go to Avenida de la Aurora 47. It’s a black building and it has a ‘Junta de Andalucia’ green sign. Take the elevator to the 10th floor and go to room 1015 and voila, your Sanitas card is there.

So happy to get my TIE and Sanitas card!

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Teaching in Spain

This past week was my first week of teaching at my primary school in Arroyo de la Miel. I teach Science and Art in English for the bilingual program of C.E.I.P Poeta Salvador Rueda. My bilingual coordinator, Enrique, is super cool and unlike any coordinator I’ve known. The first day I meet him “officially”, I actually thought he was some guy on the street asking me for a cigarette when he approached me. Half his hair was dreaded, he wore a t-shirt with some picture on it, army cargo shorts and flip flops. Although his appearance might be deemed sloppy or too laid back, he’s the opposite. Unlike Lenny or Lori’s coordinators, he was on top of things. He actually contacted me through email, wanted to meet with me to discuss the program and show me the school, had my schedule ready before the first day of classes and even offered his assistance in anything I needed help with.

My school!

Inside my school

The first day was a blur of faces, classes and introductions. I got my schedule in the morning and big shout out to Enrique because my work schedule is 10:30am until 2:00pm with a 30 minute break at 12:00pm every Monday through Thursday. Life is definitely easy tough in the Mediterranean working only 12 hours a week!

Here are my thoughts on the Spanish education system/schools:

  • All the teachers and administers wear normal attire. Normal attire? I wear my everyday clothes to school and that’s good enough for Spain. That explains Enrique’s attire the first day I met him. (Funny fact. Lenny’s coordinator dresses like she’s going to the VIP lounge at some Hollywood club. Fortunately for Lenny and all the high school boys, she has the body for it).
  • I think it’s absolutely fabulous that Spain offers a bilingual program. The kids have a choice of learning English, French, German, etc. which is awesome because we have auxiliaries from all over the world. I think the United States should totally hop on this bilingual program train so we can as awesome.
  • There are no special classes for handicap kids. In my classes, I have kids that are autistic, ADHD, have Tourette syndrome, etc. It makes class hard to teach when they disrupt the class but I just have to keep on pushin’.
  • I teach first and second graders and they are riff raffs adorable loud mouths. Seriously, these kids make my ovaries ache for motherhood but as soon as they open their mouths and start yelling, my ovaries retreat. They are loud, obnoxious, disruptive, crazy hooligans but they are too adorable to stay mad at.

Riff raffs ❤

Recess time aka my break time

  • British accent vs. American accent. Everything the schools have in English comes from the UK. Everyone’s used to accents like Robert Pattinson’s so when I come around pronouncing words like “orange”, I get a lot of “¿Que? ¡No entiendo seño!” (Seño’s short for señorita or ‘miss’ in English). Don’t get me started on the UK vocabulary. I’m still trying to get used to hearing my kids ask for a “rubber” (pronounced rubbah) instead of an eraser.

Photo Courtesy of

  • Teachers have no authority here over their kids. I was told the first day that it’s illegal to smack these riff raffs around. So instead of raising their hand, the teachers here raise their voices time after time after time after time. Or my personal favorite, beat the shit of their desks to scare the children into silence. Oh, and it’s allowed to put your students on blast in front of everyone.

Cheers to everyone surviving their first week of teaching! Now it’s time to get drunk before Monday starts again =]

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How to get your N.I.E in Malaga

After piso hunting, all you want to do is relax and drink some Cruz Campos by the beach. No way Jose! Next comes the dreaded N.I.E. Don’t panic or have a heart attack. It was a lot simpler than what I ever dreamed of.

A lot of people ask, “What is a N.I.E”? Well, I really don’t know but I’m going to tell you some gossip I’ve heard about the N.I.E. Basically, from my understanding, the N.I.E is a number, sorta like your Social Security number, back in the United States. You need this number to identify yourself to the Spanish government as well as to open any accounts (banks, bills, etc) to receive your monies from all your teachings.

Now onto the juicy important stuff:

Lenny, Lori, Nick (even though he doesn’t need his N.I.E) and myself woke up around 8am because we were too lazy and sleep deprived to wake up any earlier. We went to the bus station on Calle Alameda and took bus number 20 to La Comisaria de Policia on the left corner of Calle Juan 23 and Avenida de Andalucia. You do not need an appointment. They’re opened from 9am until 2pm.

A Foreigner’s worst nightmare

This is exactly what we did once we got there:

  • Stood in line of the “publico” on the left side (we didn’t ask anyone, we just took a guess to which line we wanted to wait because there were two lines on the “publico side” and we guessed right!)
  • We brought all our papers we needed to obtain our visas plus copies and our actual passport.
  • Waited in line for an hour, that includes outside and inside wait. Take my advice and bring some entertainment aka Family Feud on the IPad or something simple like a book or some music.
  • Finally made our way into the tiny room where we had a nice curly haired Spaniard. We told her we were here for our N.I.E and we were with the auxiliaries program.
  • Important! She told us what we needed for that specific office: [1] copy of your passport [1] copy of your visa [1] copy of the acceptance “nombramiento” letter [2] photos de carnet (which you can also get at the central bus station on Calle Alameda for €2) and your actual passport. She then gives you an application to fill out and a sheet of paper that you need to bring to the nearest bank (the Unicaja right down the block) and pay a €15 fee.

15 euro fee paper you need to bring to the bank

Actual application for the N.I.E

  • We went and paid our fee, filled out the application form and headed back to wait in the same line.
  • We waited another hour in hour and went back inside that tiny room. She took my all my papers, typed some stuff into her computer and then printed out a paper. She told me to take my photos and bring it to another man in the room.
  • He took my photos, resized them appropriately, added them onto the printed paper and took my fingerprints.

Tada! And that’s how you get your N.I.E done in less than 3 hours (in the same day) without a headache or heart attack… well sorta. You actually receive a temporary N.I.E on this sheet of paper and in 40 days you have to come back with that paper to the Comisaria de Policia and pick up your N.I.E card.

Little slip of paper that has my temporary N.I.E number that I bring back in 40 days

Last tidbit for today’s blog. I went to the Unicaja near my apartment because it seems like there’s Unicajas everywhere in Malaga. The nice kind man told me that all I needed to open a bank account is that sheet of paper with your temporary N.I.E, the copy of the sheet of paper that states you paid the €15, your nombramiento letter and of course, your passport.

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Calle Alvarez 10 Bajo

Advising new auxiliares: Do not stay in the hostel Residencia Malaga Backpackers unless you want to walk 30 minutes to city center and want chicken pox looking mosquito bites all over your body. No seriously, Nick’s whole upper body is filled with mosquito bites and it itches like a bitch.

After 3 exhausting days apartment hunting, we found our apartment on Calle Alvarex 10 Bajo! It’s in the historic center of Malaga and it’s about 5 minutes (not even) from all the cute bars and clubs. For only €599, we get a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment full of IKEA goodies. For realsies, we went to IKEA the other day and we saw the exact model of our kitchen on display. Even better, instead of having a cute tiny terrace, we have a courtyard in the middle where we’re made it into our honorary hookah lounge/drying our clothes space. We also have a closet room (not normal over here) where we’ve put all our luggage and chucherias. Between Lenny, Lori, Nick and I, we’ll probably spend about €180 euros per person in rent and bills like water, electricity and internet. Te presento nuestro piso nuevo:

Lenny and I’s room

Our IKEA kitchen

Nick and Lori’s room

Lori drying clothes in our courtyard

Living room part 1

Living room part 2

Living room part 3

120 yr old ceiling beams! Photo courtesy of Lori Djivre

Bathroom. Photo Courtesy of Lori Djivre

Shower and little itty bitty washer. Photo Courtesy of Lori Djivre

Footprint of our apartment. Drawing Courtesy of Lori Djivre

I was able to get a chino to unlock my IPhone for only €10 euros in the ghetto of Malaga and got a prepaid card to use. Now the only thing we need to get is our NIE and our internet which is going to be more tricky.

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I got 99 problems but a visa ain’t one

*Disclaimer: This is based on my own experience going through the Miami, FL consulate.

Because I spent a lot of unnecessary money in obtaining my visa, I wanted to provide a guide and a cost sheet to future applicants to make this process smoother. What do you need you may ask?

1) When getting my FBI background check** done for my Profex application, I wished someone would have given me this tip: Attach a note with your fingerprints asking them to “authenticate” your background check in order to receive an apostille from DC. Why? Because the FBI background check is like the Willy Wonka Golden Ticket that is needed to get inside the Wonka Factory (aka obtain your visa in decent time). Nobody warned you either? Now don’t pull a Sarai and waste another $23 ($5 for my fingerprints from my local police station + $18 FBI processing fee) for a new background check. Fortunately the Miami consulate is kind enough to allow the Secretary of State of Florida to apostille your background check. Instead of waiting 2-4 weeks (maybe even more) to receive your apostille from DC, I received my apostille and my background check back within 5 business days from Florida. How did I go about getting an apostille without an official authentication from the FBI? The Secretary of State of Florida requires you to have a Florida notary to notarize your background check before sending it in to them. Unfortunately, my bank wouldn’t notarize it for me but I found a nice tax attorney who did it for $5. In total, I paid for two FBI background checks ($46), $10 for the apostille fee, $5 for a Florida notarization, and $0.44 for a stamp for my return envelope stuffed with my apostille and background check. In total = $61.44

**Don’t worry about your original background check being older than 90 days. Miami turns a blind eye on the date.

Apostille done by Florida

2) Just when you think you’re done with that FBI background check, there’s moooar. Now that FBI background check needs an official Spanish translation by a certified translator. What does this mean? It’s just fancy words meaning you’re going to spend more money on this thing. Fortunately, a fellow auxiliare showed me thiswebsite. The representative, Diego, was super nice and informative. I was able to set up a discount group for myself and other fellow auxiliaries where we’d get a percentage off depending on how many people got their translation services through him. Normally, the rate is $40 but you could get anywhere from $8-$10 off that price. Just another advice: before you mail your FBI background check to the Secretary of State, scan or take a picture of your background check so you can email that copy to Diego. By 5 business days, you’ll have both your apostille and translation in your hands. In total = $30

My FBI background check translated by a certified translator

3) I was over the moon when I finally received my placement letter from Andalucia. Next step? Sign the designated form and mail it back along with a copy of your passport by the date they tell you in the letter. What’s the catch here? Please, please, please make sure your signature looks like your signature in your passport. Consequence of not heeding this advice? A nice letter or email from Spain stating your signature wasn’t twins with the signature from your passport so now you have to redo the whole process. Because I immediately signed that sucker, I had about 3 weeks until the “due date” so I mailed my acceptance letter through regular mail which ended up being about $2. In total = $2

4) Just like the FBI background check, you need a medical certificate of good health for both your Profex application and your visa. Unlike the FBI background check, this medical certificate has to be within 90 days of you applying for your visa. Pretty much kiss your old medical certificate goodbye and get ready to get a new one unless your doctor is cool enough to reprint both the English and Spanish translation (Miami does require a Spanish translation while other consulates do not) with the latest date. In my case, the doctor who did my first physical wasn’t cool enough so I had to get another one. The first physical with a student health insurance cost $10 and the second physical without health insurance cost me $50. In total = $60

5) The rest of the visa process is pretty self explanatory without any complications or needed advice.

What you’re now missing is:

  • Written notarized authorization to Mr. Cogolludo (Miami consulate representative). In total = $5
  • Visa application completed. In total = $0
  • Two recent passport sized pictures. In total = $10
  • US Passport and a photocopy of it’s ID page, driver’s license and college ID. In total = $1
  • All pages of original letter from your region in Spain. In total = $0
  • Money order for visa fee. In total = $140
  • US Postal Service Express-Mail Envelope with a tracking number. This is VERY important. Without this, they will not process your visa until they have this envelope to mail back your passport with visa.In total = $24
  • Copies of anything and everything. Don’t think it needs a copy? Make a copy of it anyways. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Actually make two copies and mail it along with your originals of everything. In total = $5
How much did my visa cost me? $338.44 but every cent is worth me going to Spain =3

Voilà! You’re finally ready to brush yo shoulders off and sit back and relax until your visa and passport is back in your possession. Hopefully you can get your visa cheaper than I did. Bonne chance!

Categories: Spain, Tips | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

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