So I’m making the move to Spain in a month. How did it all begin, you ask?
Where It All Began
It all started with a conversation with my sister Tara 3 years ago, about a friend of hers who moved to Thailand to teach English for a year. Wow, what an amazing opportunity. I wasn’t really interested in Thailand and don’t know anything about it. After working in Mexico for a couple of months for a spring break company, I gained a real appreciation of the Hispanic people, language, and culture and I decided to check out what other countries did this “teach English” thing.
Turns out, there are a couple of companies that do it all for you. For about $5000 they will get you a job, find you a place to live, and get the visa for you. I wasn’t interested in paying $5000, so I did some more research. Since I already had a background of a little Spanish (more like Spanglish), I put all my efforts into Spain.
That first week in April 2012, I found that the Spanish government runs their own program that is free to apply online called Language and Culture Assistants in Spain, where they hire native English and French speakers to teach at the schools or language academies throughout Spain. I was so excited and started to apply only to learn I missed the application deadline by 1 week. I contacted the Spanish consulate and asked if I could still apply or get on a wait list but they said no, it was first come first serve and my application number would be so high I’d never get placed. So I checked in every day for 10 months until the application period for the following year opened up and applied on day 1.
I applied to Madrid as my first choice and got placed in Madrid that following May, 2013! However, after a heart to heart with my boyfriend James and some advice from my parents, I decided to turn it down until I visited the country first and thought some more about how my age (29) would be a disadvantage. But I couldn’t get the opportunity off my mind, and kept thinking “what if”. This was something I had to do.
Fast forward another year…March 2014. 1 week before the application period closed. Just for the heck of it, I applied again for my James and myself. The Spanish consulate wasn’t kidding that first year…my application number was high. Like 4200+ high. That means they had to place over 4200 people before they got to me. No wonder I didn’t hear from them in May. It shocked me to receive the email in early July though, and to land a job in Andalucía, the beautiful southern coast on the Mediterranean, in high demand among auxiliares! That wasn’t on my top 3 choices but someone must have backed out and I got to fill the spot. James, though, ended up in Castilla León, about 6 hours north of my small northern Andalucían town…he declined.
So then came the hard part…do I accept without him or turn it down again, after a third year of trying? Here’s where I started to get crafty. I emailed the Spanish consulate, who at first weren’t very helpful. But then they gave me a contact in Spain to try, and a day later they somehow placed him in my province. Wow! I don’t know how it happened, but problem solved. So now, we’re off to Spain!
Don’t get me wrong…it was a lot more intense decision-making than that couple of paragraphs. While my head was in the clouds, there were lots of eye-opening comments from others like: will you be safe; can you drink the water; will you have to stay if you don’t like it; are hostels safe; where will you live; you don’t speak the language in the foreign rural area you’re moving to; you don’t know anyone there, what if you get in trouble; what about health insurance and cell phones; you’ve never even been to Spain or Europe, how do you know you’ll like it? But if you want something badly enough, you will make it happen despite all the obstacles. So the question is: how badly did I want this?
The answer: bad. Is it worth it? Definitely.
Have you taught English abroad? Have you heard of programs like this? I’d love to meet fellow ESL-abroad teachers and hear your stories! Leave me a link to your story in the comments!
P.S. You might also like Upon Arrival In Spain and Why Is The Cultural Ambassadors Program A Good Idea?