In the few days that the Professor and I have been trying to get settled in in Barcelona, we've run across more than a few examples of bureaucratic circular logic. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, there are a few things we need to do: 1) apply for your national identity number (without this you can't do ANYTHING), 2) open a bank account, 3) get a cell phone and 4) find an apartment. You might be thinking that we would have some flexibility in deciding in which order we can do these things. But you'd be wrong! Everything needs to be done in a certain order and you get the feeling sometimes that whoever designed the rules for moving here was missing the common-sense part of their brain. Here's why:
The most important thing to do as soon as you arrive is to get your national ID number, abbreviated as NIE. This is kind of like a social security number in the States. You can't get a bank account without one. You also can't get an apartment or a cell phone without a bank account. In order to get your NIE, you must first establish residency. This is done by going to your municipality and filling out a form which asks you for your address. You may be spotting the problem here. How you can have an address when you don't have an apartment and can't get one until you have a bank account which you can't get until you have an NIE. Difficult, eh?
Fortunately for us, the University has been helping us navigate (and somewhat circumvent) the system. Since we don't have an address yet (and you can't use a hotel as your address), we used the address and phone number of one of the university staff. Having established residency, the Professor and I then went early the next morning to the police station to apply for our NIE. We had heard NIGHTMARES about this process. Some people told us that they showed up at 7am (or two hours before the station opened) only to find themselves in a huge line where they stood waiting for hours. Thank God this wasn't our experience! We went prepared. We brought bottled water and sandwiches. But there were only about 100 people there when we arrived and the line moved pretty quickly. We got there at 8:15 and left two hours later with our NIE's. Immediately afterwards, we went and applied for a bank account and then went to sign up for a cell phone plan. It was a long and tiring day. But on the upside, we're legal now baby! Yay!
P.S. Stay tuned for some apartment hunting pictures and stories tomorrow!
(Photo: Circles Poster)