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Renewed Status

PDI0351199_VeerThis coming week I am required to renew my foreign resident status with the Spanish government, aka El Ayuntamiento, in Barcelona. I am relieved to know this time around the process will be much less painful and va mas rapido, so to speak. I will not be required to travel back to the US to gather medical records (to prove I am of sound mind, body and health), FBI background reports/police records (to prove that I am not a felon or fleeing the judicial system), nor visit the Spanish Consulate where the agents aren’t known for their warm and cuddly demeanor. Furthermore, my employer will not have to jump through various bureaucratic hoops to prove that yes indeed, there isn’t one single Spanish citizen that has the qualifications or skills required to hold the position they are contracting me to do. The experience is draining financially and physiologically but looking back on it all, it was worth it especially when I think about the year and half I lived as an illegal. Oh how I have come to loathe that word illegal and what it means to be labeled that.

Experiencing life as an illegal, I had to work under the table, exit the country every 90-days and pray that I never got ill enough to require medical attention. The stress of re-entering was unbearable. I never actually encountered any problems going through customs since having an American Passport is like having a VIP free pass but it was still nerve racking. Standing there trying to look innocent as the customs agent flipped through the pages of my passport looking for inconsistencies was torturous. But always, I would survive this process and float across the invisible border on a euphoric cloud of relief all the while some poor Muslim woman wrapped in a burka who was probably entering legally would be harassed to no end.

Having experienced life living under the radar without any sort of safety net actually has me looking forward to going through the renewal process. There will be long lines to wait in, multiple forms to fill out and various fees to pay but happily I will endure it all knowing that at the end of it all is my new Numero de Identificacion Extranjero card. For me, this little piece of plastic is a badge of honor representing the blood, sweat and tears and €$€$ that went into making my expat dream a legal reality.

-Espana Fly

Read more of Espana’s journey as a brown girl in Barcelona (or barthelona as the locals say!) below.

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