I stumbled upon the program when doing an internet search for teaching opportunities in Spain. I had no idea about other programs, and gradually heard about more programs as I went along. The problem was, at the time, the deadline for other programs had already passed. When I discovered ConversaSpain was still accepting applications to begin in January 2019, I decided to pursue the opportunity further just to see. I was pleasantly surprised when, shortly after I submitted my application, I received an email for an interview. When I got accepted to my preferred region, I decided I might as well continue teaching through the program.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
The program provided online assistance through email and useful documents with resources. They helped refer me to the consulate of my region and how to get an appointment for my visa. I had to collect the documents on my own, but they served as a starting point to get my paperwork. The program provided an orientation of what to expect and some other instructions on how to get your TIE. Since my program was only 5 months, they said I didn't need to get my TIE; however, I proceeded with the process anyway, because it makes the renewal process easier.
The resources the program provided were things like places to get a Spanish number and websites for housing. Unfortunately, the housing resources only applied for Murcia city and I was placed in the Murcia region (which is quite different). I had to find housing independently, but thankfully, I connected with other Auxiliares and found housing pretty quickly.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Having at least 2 months of living expenses in savings if possible. It takes a while to get paid initially and sometimes payments are delayed. Not to mention there are some fees here and there for paperwork, so it's always nice to have a little more. Especially if there is a inclination to travel. Also, start the paperwork process (i.e. scheduling appointments and collecting paperwork) ASAP. Sometimes it can take longer than expected, so starting the process early helps.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Depending on the program, hours/week range from 12-16 hours, more or less. My typical work week consists of 4 day work weeks, going to the schools for about 4-5 hours/day. With the extra time, I can still participate in hobbies or pick up private lessons. I like giving myself enough time through the week to prep for classes and individual lessons. 3 day weekends are a bonus because it gives enough time to travel or just kick back and relax.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was finding housing and paperwork. However, as I met people and talked to other participants, I was able to get what I needed for both concerns. I was also worried I'd be vulnerable to theft moving all my luggage by myself, and not knowing Spanish. However, fears quickly melted as I found that public transportation was highly efficient and I met so many kind people on my journey willing to give a helping hand. I also love my students. Working in public schools gives a variety of ages and I'm always so blessed and inspired by the students. The work actually feels like play!
What was your favorite part in this journey?
I think the generosity of the people I have met has been my favorite. There were occasions where I needed assistance, but the language barrier added a stressor. However, people have been gracious and so willing to help. I feel like I've developed my own community of people which helped with the transition. Also, for travelers, relying solely on Google Maps to find public transit is not always the best source. There are websites from the towns that give a more accurate bus schedule, so just be aware. Also, travel apps like BlaBlaCar helps cut down on travel costs. I have had plenty of opportunity to travel the hardest decision has been where I want to go to first! Connecting to resources may make the traveling process easier.