When you visit a country like Spain as a foreigner, it’s ideal if you know a little of the language. Although there are very few places where people speak Spanish in St. Petersburg, I used the internet to learn the language. It’s not the same as interacting with another person but, for me, what I was able to learn online, along with gestures, helped me a lot.
I chose Spain as the place I most wanted to live, and felt that learning Spanish was a challenge for me. During my stay in Bilbao I didn’t have any problems with the climate or with the customs, as I have a few things in common with the locals. I was able to adapt well, but the language was still a big obstacle for me.
A Russian friend who’d been living in Spain for quite a while showed me the solution to this problem. This friend was a customer of HolaBank: a bank which offers value-added services to expats in Spain. He explained to me that all customers of this bank have access to a translation service if they need it, which helps them with everyday life. This service includes over-the-phone interpreters who can help you to translate from Russian to Spanish and vice versa. It also offers a text message service at an affordable price, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.
As well as this translation service it also offers legal advice, which I found extremely useful for completing certain administrative tasks when renting a property and for dealing with the occasional complex bureaucratic procedure.
As an HolaBank customer I also had access to other value-added services which helped me during my stay, but I have to say that the translation service and how handy it was to be able to use it all day, every day, was the advantage which had the biggest impact on me.
When I finally felt properly settled in Bilbao and realised that I was going to stay there longer than planned, I took the plunge and bought an apartment in a neighbourhood where I felt really happy. It was a small apartment but it was a complex investment for me, because it involved a lot of challenges: the language, legal processes… That was when I had to use the sworn translation and the in-person interpreter services, because even though my language skills were improving quickly, I couldn’t chance a small misunderstanding putting at risk what was my biggest investment until that point. HolaBank helped me with this part of the process, but also with all the other aspects of buying a property: the mortgage, insurance, etc… Here in Spain there is a saying that goes “Es de bien nacido ser agradecido”, which means something like, good people show they’re grateful for the help they’re given. And that’s what I feel I’ve done through this post. Express my gratitude to this company for its help during my time in Bilbao. Highly recommended.