How do you wrap up a life? Pack up your belongings; say your goodbyes to people, places and things. Eight months is both a short time and a long time, depending on how you look at it. As auxiliares we have to establish ourselves in the Spanish system as residents, and this alone makes the closing out process very different. Answering some basic questions on the last hurrah here in city, below.
Q: What do you have to do at school for the end of the course?
A: Nothing! We are actually not at the end of the course – our students end in June. Not sure why we bow out early, but some other communities (Madrid) work until the end of June. So our students are taking exams and finalizing projects. They all have a touch of summeritis, just like me! I did pack up all of the bilingual worksheets from the year and put them together for my coordinator. And of course, we are having despedidas and fiestas in every class until our departure.
Q: Have you had any trouble closing out accounts?
A: While I haven’t closed out my Spanish bank account, I have recently executed a bank transfer to my US bank. Since I’ll be traveling in Europe for 15 days after I leave, I wanted to make sure I had access to euros for spending purposes. Although several of the countries I’m traveling to do not use the euro, the exchange rate from euro to foreign currency is kinder than the dollar.
Regarding the bank transfer – I asked my Spanish bank how to do it and they provided me with two numbers, an IBAN and a BIC. Unfortunately the IBAN is only for Europe, so I had to consult with my US bank for two different numbers: my account number and the “Swift” number used for international wire transfers. I was pleasantly surprised to see the fees were not outrageously high (6 euros from my Spanish account and 16USD from my US account), since wire transfers are stereotypically pricey. In addition to the local address for my bank, the paperwork was done within a few minutes.
Other than that we will close up our apartment and hit the road.
Q: What are your must-sees before you leave Sevilla?
A: You know, I made myself a list of things I hadn’t seen yet but wanted to see before leaving. I used Jeff’s 85 Things to Do in Sevilla to help me out. Our scavenger hunt last weekend was a great way to circle the city (competitively!) and I saw my first bullfight on Sunday. I am mostly content with seeing some of my favorite people and revisiting some of my favorite places. Tapas here, a flamenco peña there, and taking in the gorgeous views all over the city.
Q: You probably have a must-eat list, too.
A: Por supuesto. This includes but is not limited to espinacas con garbanzos, caracoles (snails!), tostada, pollo con almendras, fresh squeezed OJ, gazpacho, cafe con leche, some more wine from Ana’s bodega, a real Coca Cola from a glass bottle (they don’t use high fructose corn syrup here – its amazing). I also have to eat everything that is still in our cabinets and refrigerator!
Q: Are you bringing everything home? Did you donate? Are you shipping anything internationally?
A: Yes, everything is coming home with me because next year if I return it will be to Madrid. So I have two suitcases and a backpack. Because I’m traveling for 2 weeks after the program is over, I have 3 different airline carriers and therefore 3 opportunities to pay more for that second checked bag. Ultimately, it was cheaper to send home the smaller of the two suitcases, and I also sent a box of books. I used Mailboxes Etc. and they use Fed Ex and UPS to ship things. The best part here is that you receive a tracking number and it also gets home almost immediately (mine took 2 days). It is significantly more expensive than using the postal system, but I wanted to make sure my things got home before I left Sevilla and made it there before I had to come back to Spain in September!
There are several options for donation here. You can of course leave things at your school such as school supplies and books. They have used clothing bins around the city, and we also have a huge gypsy population. So if you leave your rug propped up outside the dumpster, you can rest assured that within the next hour a gypsy will come along with their shopping cart to load up your stuff. Either way, I figure they will put it to good use.
Q: What will you miss the most? What are you most looking forward to at home?
A: In both situations, the answer is people. There are individuals, families and groups in both places that mean a great deal to me. As always, they are the ones that breathe life into a place and make their impact on me. I think I will also miss Sevilla as a city – it’s beauty and it’s proud Spanish heritage. And I can’t wait to see family and friends that I haven’t seen since last September. No time to be sad about it – I always circle back to one or the other, it’s only a matter of time 🙂