My Spain Story: Christina Samson, going from Spanish student visa to self-employment

Residency experiences in Spain can feel like a roller-coaster journey – we know, we remember those frustrating days. That’s why in this SpainGuru blog series, we’ve interviewed successful expats so they can share a more personal side of their residency experience.

We hope this series helps guide those who have some of the same questions and are in the same spot as we were once in our residency decision/process in Spain. 

Expat: Christina Samson, co-founder of SpainGuru

Where do you currently live in Spain?

Madrid

Have you lived in any other cities/regions/Comunidades in Spain?

No

What year did you arrive in Spain?

September 2010

What kind of visa or permit did you initially come to Spain with?

Student Visa

What kind of permit or visa do you currently have?

Work and Residency Permit for Cuenta Propia (Autónomo)

How long did it take you to go through that process?

I applied for the work permit in November 2013, and was granted approval and received the new card in February 2014.

How many different visa/permit processes have you gone through in Spain? (Tourist, Student, Work Permit, Pareja de Hecho, Marriage, Nationality)

Student and Work Permit

What process (if you have done several processes) was the easiest and/or the most difficult to go through?

The most difficult was the Work Permit process, as when I did it, I couldn’t find many resources, even after consulting with lawyers, talking to Extranjería. I ended up doing it by myself and it was very challenging, including writing a business plan and getting all the paperwork in order. Now it’s much easier and there’s much more resources out there!

How much longer do you see yourself in Spain?

I’m in Spain indefinitely, so for the long haul!

How does Spain compare to your home country? Why do you prefer living here?

I’m originally from California, and don’t get me wrong, I love it there! But what I love about living in Spain is the more relaxed lifestyle and less societal pressure to fulfill certain expectations and stereotypes. I’m already an “over-achiever” and being in Spain is very therapeutic for my intense personality. I’m able to thrive in a much more calming environment. I also love the closer social relationships with people of all different ages or family situations. In most cases, whether you are young, old, divorced, parents, grandparents, 70 year old, or 30 year old – there’s much less of a “gap” and it’s totally acceptable for everyone to be hanging out and having a drink.

What is your current profession in Spain?

Communications Specialist for a program of the United Nations (called the Sustainable Development Goals Action Campaign)

What have been your past professions in Spain and for how long?

Keep in mind that many of these jobs overlap, as I usually had 2 jobs at the same time! English language assistant at a public school (2 years). English teacher at a private graduate school (1 year). Communications Officer and Editor at a Humanitarian NGO (3.5 years)

How easy or difficult has it been for you in Spain to find a job? 

Luckily it hasn’t been very difficult for me at all, but I worked very hard to develop relationships and strong professional ties even before I came to Spain.

Any future goals for your life here in Spain both personally and professionally?

Personally, I want to keep exploring all areas of Spain, as there’s so much to see and so much different types of food to try!

Any tips for those still deciding whether to stay long term to live in Spain?

Staying in Spain, or any foreign country, is not for everyone. Those who persevere and want to lay down their roots and develop their lives in another place is not easy at all. If you decide you are willing to invest the effort, it will pay off. If you find yourself complaining and don’t have the will and the determination to resolve issues, keeping in mind there’s a multitude of resources out there to help you, then it’s probably best you make the most out of your experience and then go back.

By Christina Samson, co-founder of SpainGuru

Also check out Tina’s 4-part series on Buying Property in Spain, from apartment hunting to sealing the deal and becoming a landlord!

And what’s your Spain story? Why’d you move here?

If you would also like to share your personal residency experience on SpainGuru, please send your responses to hello@spainguru.es along with:

  • any social media accounts or blog/website links you wish to include promoting yourself or your business
  • 1-3 photos of yourself (it is up to you but we would like at least 1)

Thanks so much!

Shaheen, Stacey and Tina