poniedziałek, lipca 31, 2006

Unfgh... Spanish Banking... Bleh!

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to you, readers of this MBA Blog. The busyness has for the most part stopped, and I have been able to enjoy Barcelona. Truth be told, I did a little smidge too much enjoying of Barcelona – but it being summer, and I being on vacation, I figured I could let the hair down (this would be given I had hair to let down).

Anyways, the new apartment is great, the location is fantabulous (which apparently is a word since MS Word didn’t underline it) and now all that’s left to take care of ADSL. Whatev’s (which apparently is not a word, since MS word did underline it).

Overall, the city is great, but enough about that. Some helpful tips for all incoming students and anyone who cares to know anything about anything whilst living here.

Spain, as far as I know after three weeks of living here (which to an insect is a lifetime, but us humans not much), is a credit aversive society, people work, live with their parents until they’re well into their 30’s, meanwhile saving all their money to eventually get hitched, and buy a place of their own – paid mostly in cash. Wha wha what? Yup…

And, that’s all good and well, but while you’re sitting on 50k Euro… and it’s in a low interest checking account, wouldn’t it all make sense to throw it at least into a money market, I mean, that’s if you’re risk aversive - or put 20% of that badboy into some high yield fund, and leverage the risk with oh... something boring, like commodities (not that I know what I'm talking about of course).

Well… apparently not. You see, there really is no culture of this. For example when I deposited 18.5k USD into my account, it didn’t even come to the tellers mind that I may want to invest that money, whereas in the US, the 1st thing they would have asked was where I wanted to stick that cash. However, this problem is not strictly Spanish. I recently learned from a friend that it also extends to France, and I assume, numerous other states within the EU. But I digress…

… all this non-investment I assume leads to what I have decided to call the “Spain’s no free fee for fee system.” Where you as a customer, have to pay fees for nearly anything and everything that a bank does to your account. Transfer funds, - fee, take out a a large amount of cash – fee, walk past the bank – fee, talk to teller – fee. Pay a fee - fee. OK so I’m exaggerating a bit, but the fees are ridiculous. I think I’ve already paid something like 200 € in fees, and I’ve been here for what? 3 weeks. Dammit, I should be getting interest not paying fees - or am I just being made a fool of?

Then is this where’s Spanish banks get their revenues from? Are they only savings institutions? Do they capitalize on cash, like in the US? Or are the “Caja’s” (Caixa’s en Català) strictly safety deposit boxes? And can I please get a credit card? (The answer to the last one is a big fat NO! I don’t have a job - oh if they only knew of my credit limits stateside.) Right… rambling – so…

These are things that I have only assumed, and in no way shape or form, would know if they are true or not. Except for one thing - that if you are moving to Spain, prepare to pay banking fees for nearly everything.

czwartek, lipca 20, 2006

Busy, busy, busy.

Wow… so vacation right? Seriously, no so… I’ve done most I had to do with school, and last minute they changed the start date on us. Which in all, did not make me too happy as I was to be in Poland at the time, and had to change my itinerary. Regardless. School starts on the 28th now, and I’m really looking forward to it. Though I am sure it will be A LOT of work. 

So, I’ve straightened everything out with the bank, and should be getting my cash this Friday, which won’t really be in there much longer, since I have to dish out the entire apartment move in fee. A Whopping 9.150€, that’s appx 11,500 USD. OUCH! Right… but I will be getting a good chunk of it back from the roommates and will be getting the rest of my share when we move out. The flat is amazing, 140sq m. in Gracia… a cool nifty little neighborhood right in the center of the city… and close to everything. Muy importante. Btw… that’s my living room. 300€ a month… HA!!! In NY…? HA!!!!

I’m learning Spanish at an alarming rate which is really wonderful, as the sooner I don’t have to take Spanish at ESADE the sooner, I can start taking French at ESADE. Which as some of you know, is somewhat invaluable as I want to move to Luxembourg or Paris after this little MBA fiasco. This is – of course – given I can’t land a job here in Spain that’ll pay me close to 85000€. An unlikely, but not impossible feat. Basically, I’m not settling for anything less that $100k.

Now… once I get my keys, it’s off to the city council to get my NIE, and then only, the drivers license remains, but as the city is small, the public transportation good and cheap, and my particular dislike for driving… this is not something to stress about.

So… that’s about it… wish I were playing tourist a bit more, and had a bit more free time, but such is life. Oh... and I'm really glad I came here when I did. Doing all this while school is going to be in session is just asking for torture. Good luck guys! ;)

piątek, lipca 14, 2006

The Perils of Living in Spain…

Not that I would really know what they are since I’ve been here a whopping week, but an update none the less. First, I would like to send a big great thank you to a nameless blogger who in her magnificent niceness donated $25.oo to my MBA Monetary Relief Fund.

Other than that, I have some pics of ESADE and Barcelona up on my flickr site, and should any of you like to see them the link is here. Other then that, things are progressing nicely, I think I’ve found an apartment, and quite the spiffy one at that, located in Gracia, close to Diagonal, metro’s and the such. It’s big, has plenty of light and plenty of space, including a parking one – that I’m thinking about subletting out – I mean hey, if it covers the cost of bills, why the frek not.

And finally, a friend from the States was in BCN this week, got to spend some time with her, which was a nice relief from stumbling my way though Castilian. Anywyas – plan for tonight – book and a cup of tea. I’m saving money, and tomorrow, I want to play tourist.


sobota, lipca 08, 2006

Hola de Barcelona!!!!

Wow… so much to say and so little blog. Ok where to start? I guess the beginning would be a good place… so.

Aer Lingus. That’s what I flew. Can’t say much about the airline, except that unlike Air France it did not serve free booze and the food was less than something to write home about, all in all a good budget international airline, but don’t expect too much. On the other hand Air France is quickly becoming my favorite airline and I’m full well behind them in the WC finals; France that is.

Dublin. Landed there at 4:50am and soon discovered that what you read about in the papers and how the Polish have amassed in the city is most unconditionally true. I think I heard more Polish in Dublin than Warsaw, ok that’s not exactly true, but it was rampant, and I’d be a fool to say that a few of my country brethren will not hook up there and go on to have Polish babies in Ireland and eventually move back home. I also found the people to be extremely rude. Obviously I’m not judging the country by the people in the airport but still… in NY they may be incompetent, but at least they try.

Now… Spain, Barcelona, Catalunya. Wow! I now remember why it was so hard for me to leave this place five years ago. I landed, the sun was shining, I walked though passport control without any problems (go EU citizenship), talked and laughed with the cabbie on my way to the sublet. The sun was shining – still is as a matter of fact. Everywhere you turn you’re stricken with one beautiful scene after another, music is everywhere, the drivers are crazy, a pleasant breeze nulls the effect of 30 degree heat, and everyone and everything is just amazing. The place is like a little piece of carved out Eden, placed on the Mediterranean. I the Barcelonese are possibly the luckiest people on earth, and I have no idea why anyone would ever want to leave this place, and while I’m yet to make my way to the beach, or go out at night, or start the inevitable sightseeing (I lost 4 rolls of film in Rome, from my last stay here, so I will need to re-do) I have never felt better in my life. It’s hard not to smile. Looking back now, at NY, it’s a depressing place. Truly. Not to mention that the dinner I ate last night was quite possibly the greatest thing I ever had my taste buds experience – salmon, artichoke ravioli, topped with caviar and roe, in a yoghurt sauce, with essence of plum placed around the plate. Mag-ni-fi-cent. In NY the dish would have been $25 easy, and I paid for the entire dinner w/ wine, coffee and water 15€. The only thing I have to complain thus far about is the fact that my cuticles are falling apart from lugging around 40+ kilos worth of stuff, and the fact that until midnight last night I did not sleep for 30+ hours. Meh.

Now being an MBA blog, I should also add the little bit about ESADE, I suppose ;). I made my way to the school yesterday, and like it says in the brochures, the area of Pedrables is truly amazing, beautiful, and scenic. The main building is architecturally very cool looking, and upon making my way in I went to the full time MBA office. Everyone was super nice, and they advised me on who to contact to help move me along with my NIE, they introduced me to Financial Aid, and I should be getting all my financials, bank account and so on, straightened out early next week. Y en finalmente, yo no neceisdo voy a la clase española introductoria. So, I’m heading to Poland for the last two weeks of August to visit the fam, and walk around in the woods. – Super Bueno! :D

wtorek, lipca 04, 2006

T minus 48hrs and counting….

I leave for Spain in 2 days. I’m moved out – not without drama – mind you. It turns out my “oh so wonderful” ex-landlord is not only a humongous prick but also somewhat of a megalomaniac.

You see he stipulated that he could easily get $2,000/mo for my crappy apartment, and that he would in no way shape or form rent to this girl and her friend because they a) weren’t going to pay more, and b) weren’t going to cover the fee that my old roommate never paid (which after due deliberation with my old roommate, I saw in his bank statement that he did in fact pay) – anyways, long story short, the s.o.b. stiffed me for $700, no one in their right mind would pay $2,000 for that place, even with absurd inflation, and all things considered, the guy was an outright ****.

In return, I left him with the wonderful gesture of a complete mess to clean up, and a fridge filled with uneatables. An expensive cleaning lady, I know, but one turn deserves another.

So… now I’m staying with the parents, until I fly out in two days time, packing, doing laundry, and picking up a few necessities here and there. Until next I blog, de España.