[Picture of the Metro Stop I went to about 6 times today]
SOOOOO besides being locked out of the apartment the very first day nothing too stressful had happened to me in Spain…. until this morning.
Long story short – despite my endless planning and preparing somewhere along the way the bank did not process something and I got to the ATM only to be told I had no authorization. That’s right – no money could be withdrawn. So I told myself, easy fix, just call the bank.
Well even with my new Orange phone plan that was a process! I eventually, after getting passed on to two people and waiting for approximately 30 minutes, got through to someone. Only to have my international free minutes run out.
You’d think it would end there wouldn’t you? Hahahahahahaa…. nope!
I finally decided to go up to the desk and try talking to one of the employees.
“Lo siento. Ayudame por favor, el banco de america es un amigo de Deustche bank, si?”
They looked at me like I was crazy for a minutes before I caved…. and asked “Habla ingles?”
Luckily for me, one of them did and they attempted to help. There was a Bank of America building 4 stops away on the metro. Off I went, despite having class in 2 hours. I was hopeful!
4 metro stops later and some wandering around, I get to the building. Again I attempt using my spanish to ask the lady at the front desk if someone could help me get my “tarjeta de debito” working. I was told that this building was only for international business and didn’t hold any customer service representatives.
Just my luck. Plus my apartment security deposit was due today, so I of course had to call and explain the situation to them. I broke down and called the parents who by this time were just waking up on their side of the world, and went to class.
I got out of class had a message from Dad!!! (I miss you and thank you dad<3). He said that my card should now work. Bueno!!! SO I get to the bank (again) and what do you know…. they close at 2:30 and it’s currently 5:30 pm.
Which brings me to the title of this blog. Who uses banks anymore? In the United States, most people use online banking and have everything directly wired from their accounts. We use credit cards and Venmo and Paypal. And while in some ways it’s most dangerous and much more difficult to budget (we’ve all experienced those I’m hungry while I’m grocery shopping days), it is also something that I absolutely LOVE. No need to drive to the bank and withdrawal money.
However, when you are abroad each culture has it’s own norms. In Spain, it’s a cash culture. Meaning people don’t typically use credit cards. Some stores don’t even accept credit cards due to the processing charges and their still grow economy. However, while it’s definitely caused me a HUGE headache today, I can understand it.
I love Madrid. I love Spain. There are many things I think us as Americans could learn from their way of life. But hopefully, one day they might just take this one note from us – use credit cards. Venmo. Online bank transfers. One or ALL would be amazing!
Just one of the many things I’ll encounter during my time abroad.