Mom and daughter prove that independence and bucking societal norms make for a happy, loving life!

Recent Posts

Four Day Weekend On A Budget In Madrid

Four Day Weekend: After a month and a half of paperwork, beginning a new job, and getting settled, four days to rejuvenate my spirit is definitely needed. October 12th (El Dia de la Hispanidad), is a national holiday in Spain. There is a parade, and […]

I am Exhausted – Getting Used to My New Teaching Role

As you may have guessed, these past two weeks have been incredibly busy as I have been getting acclimated into my new role as a Language Assistant/English Teacher here in Madrid. School Hours: In Madrid, the children begin school in September, but they don’t have […]

3 Weeks In Madrid! Apartment Hunts, School and More!

Finding Our Apartment: I have been promising a blog with the details about our apartment hunt, and here it is.

Apparently finding an apartment in Madrid is very similar to finding an apartment while living in New York City. While I have personally never lived in NYC, I have a few friends who have shared their experiences, and there are a couple of people here in Madrid from NYC who have agreed that the Madrid apartment hunt is very similar. Yikes!

When I applied for the Beda program, I knew that I would have to find living accommodations for both myself and Scarlett on my own, and was told that it would be rather easy upon arrival.  I was told to “just use the several apartment listing services such as idealista.com, fotocasa.com, etc,, and you will have no problem!” While there are several listings, I found that it is virtually impossible to get anyone to get back in touch with you.

Let me back up a bit. We arrived in Madrid on August 28th and had an Airbnb for a week. When I first rented the Airbnb while we were still in Nashville, I was told that if we liked the room we would be able to extend our rental. After only being in Madrid for one day, and virtually no contact from any of the landlords I had contacted, I contacted the owner of the Airbnb via the message app, and told her we would probably need to extend for at least a week. Her reply, “We have clients checking in the day you check out.” Okay….so much for seeing if I like the room. It was time to get serious. Since I had my daughter with me, I didn’t really feel up to going from one Airbnb to the next for nine months, not knowing who the hell is going to be coming and going. Yes, the title of my blog is titled Free Spirited Single Mom, but free-spirited or not, I am a very responsible and good mother.

My contact at the school was helping by calling some of the apartments since she speaks both English and Spanish, but she was finding a lot of people who weren’t answering. I decided to try a different route and put search for “apartments in Madrid” on Google. A few Craigslist ads came up. I figured I would give it a try, and I saw one in the city center that was beautifully decorated with the colors that Scarlett and I adore! It didn’t have a bathtub or an extra bedroom; it was a studio with a sectioned off area. At this point I was thinking a beautifully decorated studio in the city center was much better than a random room somewhere every other week, so I messaged the landlord. She got back to me within a day, and as luck would have it, she spoke English! She was very apprehensive about Scarlett and I sharing a studio, but I told her the same thing about it being much better than sharing ONE ROOM in some random place with strangers coming and going every couple of weeks. To make a long story short, we went to see the place, LOVED it, and have been living here for two weeks! Studio or not, it is actually very comfortable, and we are getting very used to living in the city! It is kind of a nuisance taking the metro about 35 to 40 minutes to our schools in the mornings, but we are adapting.

Enrolling my daughter in school: Once we got the apartment situation worked out, I was feeling a bit of relief. Perhaps this wasn’t some horrible idea to move to Europe after all. We have a place to live and Scarlett will be going to the same school where I will be teaching. WRONG! The moment I started to feel more relaxed, I received a message from my contact at the school asking for Scarlett’s birthdate. I gave her the information, (I am certain I conveyed her age when we were contacting one another when I was still in Nashville, but whatever.) She got back to me and told me that Scarlett wouldn’t be able to go to the school that I am going to be teaching because she is “too old to go into 6th grade in Spain.” I have mentioned the pain of bureaucracy here in Spain before, right?  We were getting schooled on it big time within our first two weeks. I was ready to scream and cry, but I am happy to say, I didn’t do either. I was told that I might have to enroll her in a public high school. Yeah, I wasn’t going to do that. For starters, she is not ready for high school. She would be going into the 6th grade in the United States. In Spain, High School, or Secondary School starts with 7th grade. If it were a bilingual school, and they thought she was ready for 7th grade, I might consider it, but I was not going to enroll her in a public high school in Spain that had no bilingual program at all. I was ready to use my round trip ticket and fly back to the U.S. I wanted to begin a life in Europe, but not at the expense of my daughter’s well-being.

I decided to see what was offered before making any rash decisions: I had to go to a place called the SAE Instituto Simancas which is a school that has a government building next door. This is where you have to go if you change residency, want to change your child’s school, etc. Since I don’t speak fluent Spanish, and apparently have forgotten everything I thought I knew upon arriving here, trying to follow directions when you have no idea what you are doing is pretty daunting.

As luck would have it, the assistant head mistress of the school connected to the SAE speaks fluent English and was a wonderful help. I was told that since Scarlett doesn’t speak any Spanish, she would need to enroll in a school that has a “welcoming class.” From what I have gathered, this type of class is similar to those in the United States that assist non-English speaking students. Yes, it is interesting being on the other side of the spectrum. I was told that I could ask for her to be placed near my work, but it is not guaranteed.

After waiting in line at the SAE office with several other parents, I found out I was able to bypass this line since I had a paper with an appointment time on it. There were several angry parents that didn’t like to wait in line, but the gentleman in charge explained that anyone that has an appointment needs to come inside. Apparently most people dislike waiting in lines no matter what culture you happen to find yourself in.

She was assigned a school: We finally got a school officially assigned to her, and I am so grateful that it is literally about a two to three minute walk from where I will be teaching! It is a semi-private Catholic school, and she seems happy with it so far. Interestingly enough, after she tested, they are keeping her in 6th grade (I know what is best for my child), and it is another school that participates in the BEDA program as well.

This three weeks has proven a bit challenging, but I think we are finally getting settled. I start my job this week. Stay tuned for updates on my teaching adventures!

 

 

 

 

Visit to Buen Retiro Park and Mercado San Miguel

Here is a video of our recent visit to Retiro Park and the San Miguel Market in Madrid. We decided to venture out a bit more on this Saturday afternoon. The weather was wonderful, and everything was free! Let me correct that. Everything was free […]

What Have I Done???

Things are fine now, but they weren’t so fabulous the first day and evening in Madrid. It is amazing how a few hours of decent sleep, a full stomach, and chocolate can make a world of difference! The Flight: The flight wasn’t bad since they had […]

Holy Cow! We Are Flying to Madrid!

After all of the planning, packing, and stress, the day is finally here! We are flying to Madrid!

Savings: I purchased our airline tickets a couple of months ago, and chose to fly out of Atlanta instead of Nashville since I ended up saving well over $1,000 for both Scarlett and I to fly. The flights from Nashville to Madrid were between $2000 and $2400, and I was able to purchase the flight from Atlanta to Madrid for $400. Including travel insurance, it was about $1000 for the purchase of the tickets for both of us.

I played around with different dates and times leaving from both cities until I found a rate I was happy with. I called American Airlines to ensure that I didn’t get a basic economy with no checked bags by accident, but the agent assured me that it was a normal ticket and added that it was indeed a wonderful rate for an international flight. He said he didn’t remember ever seeing such a good rate before. Yes! Things were starting to fall into place.

Realization: It was such a surreal feeling driving through both the downtown areas of Nashville and Atlanta, and saying goodbye, at least for awhile, to the city skylines that I have come to know for so many years. I grew up in the Atlanta area, and although I have lived in several different states, Nashville has been the city I have called home for a large majority of my life. I wasn’t expecting to feel anything but excitement since I was finally accomplishing a bucket list goal of mine and moving to Europe. I suppose even with the love/hate relationship I have come to have with the Southeast, the pleasant memories I have of friends and family overcome the negative. That twinge of sadness mixed with the realization that I am actually going to miss things about my “home” set in for a few minutes. This feeling was most likely elevated by the fact that I was going on about five hours of sleep within the span of two days. We had just finished packing up our apartment, loading the storage unit, and cleaning/clearing the apartment in order to turn in our keys.

Flight Day: This morning we left my mom’s house at 6 a.m. Eastern time to catch a 10 a.m. flight from Atlanta to Philadelphia. My ex-husband and middle son drove Scarlett and I to the airport in my van. (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I am allowing my middle son to use my van while we are gone.)

I receive flight rewards via American Airlines, and I have used this airline ever since I flew to Costa Rica a few years ago. Why not continue to add up the miles, right?  I decided to check out the Admirals Club after our arrival in Philadelphia since we had a six hour layover. I have never utilized this service because I always assumed it was for those who were already members, and that the price was astronomical. I was so wrong.

It is only $59 for a day pass! This is per person, but since Scarlett is under the age of 18, she gets to come in for free. They have complimentary snacks and drinks, including wine. The seating is more comfortable, they provide you with a free wifi password, and it is overall a much better experience. By the time I would have paid for coffee and food in the regular waiting area, the cost would have most likely been around $59 anyway, so I am very happy that we had this option!

We are scheduled to arrive in Madrid in a few hours. I have never been on an overnight flight, so the plan is to sleep if at all possible, in order to (hopefully) trick my body’s schedule into thinking we are magically on Madrid time by the time we arrive tomorrow morning. Hey, one can hope! 🙂

Considering all of the mixed emotions, I can say that I am both exhilarated and nervous about the start of this new adventure for both myself and my daughter!

 

 

Organized Chaos Is Still Chaos! Packing For Our Move to Europe

As exciting as it may sound to just “go for it” and make the move overseas, it is honestly very nerve-wracking as well. I have to be cleared out my apartment next week, and to be honest, I am freaking out just a bit. I am […]

We Got Our Visas! (A Step By Step Guide to the Visa Application Process)

After receiving the news that I was accepted as a language assistant in Madrid, I knew that both my daughter and I would have to apply for visas. Thinking that this would be about as painless as obtaining a United States Passport, I soon realized […]

Nice to Meet You!

Hello: My name is Amie, and it is my hope that my experiences will not only entertain in some fashion, but will also serve to compel those who may feel stuck in some way to realize that it is possible to live life and be happy. My daughter and I will be moving to Madrid, Spain in a few weeks, and it has been a stressful and exciting process, but one that I hope to share with you.

A Little Family Background: I have three children, two that are now legal adults, and one that is always by my side.  My relationship with my daughter, age 12, is synonymous to that of Rory and Lorelai Gilmore of “The Gilmore Girls.” Honestly, that is usually the best similarity I can come up with when it comes to describing our mother/daughter bond.

As many before me have done, I got pregnant at 19, married to my son’s father at 20, got pregnant with his brother three years later, had our baby girl six years after that, had a whole lot happen in between, and got divorced in 2010 after 13 years of marriage.  Whew! Say that ten times! Without going into too much detail in my intro blog, let me just say that it was my choice, and it was something that needed to occur. My ex and I are completely opposite people, with opposite views on virtually everything under the sun. With that being said, our working relationship regarding the legalities and custody arrangement of the children has always been stellar for the most part, and I consider myself very fortunate.

Work and School: I went to college later in life and graduated in 2013 with my Bachelor’s degree in journalism. Thinking that since I free-lanced for a couple of news publications and a foodie magazine in Austin, TX before graduation, plus reporting for the criminal courts in Middle Tenn., I just “knew” I was going to get flooded with job offers. Flash forward to today, and well, here I am, and I am still not reporting for a newspaper on my way to winning a Pulitzer!

After graduating, I worked for the State of Tennessee for almost a year, then took a job working from home as a customer service agent, and within that year and a half got a promotion as an escalations supervisor. I decided to apply to law school as this is something I had been working towards for a while now after having taken the LSAT a couple of years before. I got accepted, and went for a year, but the tuition got the best of me, and student loans weren’t an option this time around. During one of my summer breaks, I took a job at a law office that did eviction law, and that was hands down one of the most awful jobs that I have ever had. I thought that having a job at any law office would be great experience, but I was sadly mistaken. That wasn’t the type of law I wanted to practice at all. I wanted to be a criminal defense attorney, and after leaving that job, I started thinking long and hard about how I wanted to spend the rest of my life.

Embracing My Free-Spirited Nature: My first instinct as I was looking for another place of employment was to start packing and put our belongings in storage when our lease was up so that we can move to Europe. However, after doing more research I soon found out that you need a visa and can’t just move to Europe without a plan.

The light bulbs began flashing as a more realistic approach to traveling on a budget began to take form in my thought process. How do I obtain an ESL teaching certificate? There are several ways, and I opted to try the online course. I will go into this more later, and explain the pros and cons of both, but so far it has been positive and I was even offered a teaching position in Vietnam but I turned it down. My heart and spirit have been yearning to visit to Europe, but it is much harder to get a job in Europe if you aren’t an EU citizen.

I was, however, able to find out how to apply to become a teaching assistant in Spain. My next few posts will delve into the application process and interview as well as all of the excitement and stress of this process of moving to Madrid.

Stay tuned for our crazy, non-traditional lifestyle!