In the “it’s a small world” department, I recently met a young woman in Florida whose brother has just returned from a two-year stint as an auxiliar in Spain. I called her brother, Tyler, and learned that he spent one year in Extremadura and then one in Madrid. He agreed to share 5 things that he would have done differently and, in fact, DID do differently when he moved from Extremadura to Madrid for his second year in Spain.
Check them out:
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH
Spain is a diverse country with many different regions and even inside those regions there are cities with entirely different landscapes. Be sure to check out which region will work best for your lifestyle and goals.
Tyler applied to be an auxiliar immediately following his college graduation. He had studied abroad in Cordoba his junior year and really wanted to work in Andalucia so, when asked his preferences for region on his application he chose 1) Andalucia 2) Catalunia and 3) Extremadura.
It turned out that he got his third choice and he ended up in a remote town in the mountains on the border between Portugal and Spain. He didn’t mind being in such remote a place except that the town was very far from either an airport or train station and, as a result, he ended up not being able to travel as much as he would have liked during his time there.
Tyler had been in Spain previously and had even worked with a coordinator from his program to determine what region would best suit him and still ended up in an area that was not ideal for him. His lesson from all this is to research, research, research.
2. KEEP AN OPEN MIND
Tyler said that before he got to Spain he had an idea of what his teaching job would be like but had no experience as an educator.
He worked in a private school in Badajoz during his first year where, he says, he struggled. He went into the job thinking he was going to be merely an assistant to the teacher but, never having taught a day in his life, he wasn’t sure what was expected of him. By the end of the year, Tyler was directing the class and eventually learned how to create and lead lesson plans.
His second year, in Madrid at a public school, was more of what he thought his job was supposed to be. He had more of an assistant’s role at his school there and did less curriculum and instruction work.
Tyler learned what many others have, that each school whether private or public is going to be different and no two people doing this program have the same experience.
3. DON’T OVERWORK YOURSELF
Tyler taught 3 private lessons everyday after school for his year in Badajoz. He eventually wore himself out and didn’t have energy to do some of the things he planned to because he was working so much. For his second year, in Madrid, he made it a point not to take on so many private lessons. His goal was to travel and see more of what was around him.
4. GO TO INTERCAMBIOS
By the end of Tyler’s first year he had barely learned any Spanish, which had been one of his goals. He had been teaching English all day and tutoring in English during his free time. During his second year, when he was living in Madrid, he took advantage of the opportunity to practice Spanish and did so by going to at least one Intercambio a week.
Take weekend trips and see more of Spain! Tyler did not see much of Spain his first year there because he lived so far from major transportation hubs. When he moved to closer to an airport and train station, he made good use of his time and freedom each weekend by exploring a different part of Spain.