Going Along with My Post from Yesterday…

This is a picture I took of the Puerta de Alcalá during my very first week here in Spain. If there’s one more thing I could add to my list from yesterday, it would be the Madrid sky.

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Things I Love About Living in Spain.

I was talking with a fellow language assistant a few weeks ago about how sometimes I feel like I take for granted that I live in Madrid. She was saying how she has those moments sometimes and then she has to tell herself, “Shut up. You live in a European capital city.” And a few days ago, I came across this quote on tumblr:

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That quote reminded me of why it is that I love Madrid so much. After all, Spain has been my dream country since I was in middle school. So here are some little things that I love about living in Spain (especially Madrid): More

Changing Beings.

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I have been in Spain for over 4 months now and I’ve been reflecting on aspects of myself that are different since my new life here. I use to think that it was such a cliche to say that people change when they travel, but it really is true. I have noticed so many new things about myself and I have changed in so many ways already in the short time I’ve been here in Madrid. Or maybe, we don’t change, but we discover things about ourselves that we never knew before.

One vast improvement (at least for me) is that I am significantly less shy. I would describe my former shyness as debilitating. Really. I would miss out on opportunities because I was too shy to ask someone a question or for more information. That has definitely changed. While I was in Paris, I had no issues walking right up to people to make sure that I was heading in the right direction or for recommendations of places to eat that were nearby (and I had to do this in French!). This is, by far, the change that I am proudest of since moving to Spain.

Another thing that I have noticed about myself is that I no longer care what other people think about me. It’s so liberating. I use to base so many of my decisions on what I thought the reactions/opinions of others would be. Not anymore. I do and wear and say what I want and I don’t care what others think of it.

Sort of along the same vein as not caring what people think is that I am much more outgoing. This may be due to the fact that I live in a European city where I know next to no one and have the mentality of “when will I ever see these people again?” that causes this…but I like it.

I have also found that I am much less dependent on others to do things that I would like to do. I use to hate doing things on my own – even going to the convenient store. Now, I’ve traveled to Paris and London all on my own. I’m thinking of doing another solo trip to Paris in May because there are so many things I still want to see there. Plus, the puente in May is about 6 days, so I could see the things I want without feeling rushed like I did during my last trip.

All of these things may seem insignificant to others, but I am really proud of my little accomplishments/changes. I hope they stay with me even after I leave Spain.

What things have you discovered about yourself when you’ve traveled?

New Year’s Resolutions.

I’ve been back in Spain for over a week now and it has been nice to get back into the swing of things. I didn’t realize how much I actually missed teaching my students until I went back to work on Tuesday. The kids were a lot more enthusiastic about being back than I had anticipated. And it’s always nice when a group of 11-14 year olds are super excited to see you and are asking you all sorts of questions about your holidays. The only damper on my first week back to school was my terrible jet-lag. I was on Maryland time for the vast majority of the week, which meant that I was terribly sleepy at work and wide awake when I was trying to fall asleep at night. All of that’s over now, though, and I’m back on Spain time.

This past year has been a bit of a roller-coaster for me. I went from not knowing what in the heck I was going to do, to applying to be an auxiliar in Spain, waiting in limbo until I found out whether or not I would be accepted, and then prepping everything for my move to Spain. And in the spirit of this new year, I have decided to make some resolutions for the first time ever. Here are a few of my resolutions for 2013: More

Home.

No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.

I really love this quote by Lin Yutang, though I don’t think I ever truly could relate to it until now. Being home in Maryland these past few days has been wonderful. I thought I would feel like a stranger in my house, but it’s been amazing to me how quickly I fell back into my old routine. There have been definite moments where I have thought to myself, “Wow, this feels so different than Spain.” Those moments, however, have been more in stores, on the metro, or while watching TV. When it comes to time with my family, however,  it’s like nothing has changed.

When so many people think of “home” they think of their room and their bed or places in their town that they love. Living in Spain these past few months and now returning to Maryland for the holidays has made me realize  that for me my home isn’t my house, my room, or even my state. My home is my family. And it is nice to come to this realization. When I started this Spain adventure, I thought that maybe I’d like it so much that I’d want to stay in Spain/Europe for a few years (and I would certainly like to do another year in the BEDA program), but I don’t think I can ever see myself settling down in a place where my family is not. I know that for many people that is not the case, they could settle down anywhere and be fine with just seeing their family every once in awhile. That is just not the case with me. And I am okay with that.

I leave for Spain again in a few days and I plan to enjoy the rest of my time there to the fullest and make as many memories as possible, but I love the fact that I know that in a few months I will be reunited once again with my family. I don’t care if we are in Maryland, Spain, Puerto Rico, or Timbuktu, as long as I am with family, I’m home.

London Calling!

For the people who really know me, they are well aware that I am a huge Anglophile. It all began when I was 10 years old and read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. From that point forward, my love/obsession with England only increased. When I knew for sure that I would be doing BEDA in Spain, one of the first things I told my friends and family was that I would finally be able to travel to London. Two weeks ago, during the puente, I was finally able to travel to this wondrous place!

Upon arriving, the first thing I did was take the metro to my hotel so that I could drop off my bags. The metro for my hotel was King’s Cross Station (Yes, as in the King’s Cross from Harry Potter) so you can imagine my excitement. I had found out a few days before that there are Chipotles in London, so my first order of business was finding the Chipotle closest to me. I think that when I walked in through the door of Chipotle I could faintly hear the angels singing. Here is a picture of my bowl before and after: More

BEDA FAQ.

First off, HELLO my lovely readers! I know I have sucked in posting this past month. I have been quite busy at my school and I traveled to London during a long weekend we had last week (I’ll write another post about that later this week). I have been bombarded with emails regarding BEDA and the application process so I figured I would write a post answering the major questions I’ve gotten. To those that emailed me, I did finally respond! Again, I am SUPER sorry for replying so late…I’m normally not that bad, I promise!!

Anyway, here are the main questions I’ve gotten about the program:

When does the application period end?

January 31, 2013.

What is the Skype interview like and when did you find out about yours?

I received an email about a week after I submitted my application informing me of the date and time of my Skype interview. I know things are different this year, however, because the application period ends in January as oppose to March like last year. So I don’t know if the coordinator has already sent out emails letting people know when their interview is for or if she will start to do that after the application period ends.

As far as the interview, it’s nothing to stress over. First of all, the interview is in ENGLISH. The only question the coordinator asked me was my preference regarding what age group I wanted to teach and the number of hours I wanted to work. The rest of the interview was me asking her all of the questions I had about the program and living in Spain in general. Think of the interview as your opportunity to highlight any experience you have that makes you a good candidate and to show how enthusiastic you are about the program. My interview lasted a grand total of 7 minutes and I think that was the average time for most of them.

Is BEDA very competitive?

I would say BEDA is more selective than competitive. There are certain things that will give you an advantage:

  • Knowing Spanish
  • Experience living abroad (especially in Spain)
  • TEFL certificate
  • Education degree
  • Experience working with children

Having any of the things above will give you a GREAT advantage. It’s not like BEDA gets a TON of applications. Generally, for each opening, they have 2 candidates. At least, that’s what the coordinator told me during my interview last year when I asked her about the odds of being accepted/rejected. However, the program has gotten a lot more fame so that ratio may have increased this year.

Also, it doesn’t matter when you submit your application. BEDA is not like the Ministry program where preference is given to those who apply earlier. So if you haven’t sent in your application yet, no worries…but you only have a little over a month left, so get on it!

Can you live off of the monthly stipend?

First off, your stipend will depend on how many hours you work. So you could earn anywhere from 693-1040 euro. Most auxiliares will tell you that you’re going to have to supplement the stipend by giving private classes…and that’s true. I don’t, but that’s only because I live with a family so I don’t pay for rent or food. It’s always toughest the first few months, but once you learn how to manage your money and start to get a good grip on private classes, you’ll see the stipend is plenty.

Has BEDA ever had payment issues like the Ministry program?

No, BEDA has never had payment issues. The auxiliares are always paid on-time via direct deposit at the end of every month.

Do we get to decide when we take the mandatory course with Comillas and how long is it?

No, you have no say when you take this course. You will be assigned a group and once that happens you will be given a day and time for the course. This year, most of the classes are on Fridays, either in the morning or evening depending on how many hours you work.

The class generally lasts about 3 hours. Somedays it’s not that bad and others you can’t wait for it to be over, but I would say I have definitely found the courses to be helpful.

How much assistance does the program give with getting all your paperwork/cards/bank/apt when you get there?

BEDA is EXTREMELY helpful in getting you all set up. During orientation, we filled out all the paperwork in order to get our NIEs. This was such a relief for me. They provided all the documents we needed and let us know exactly how we needed to proceed. BEDA handles making the NIE appointment for you and sends you an email letting you know when your appointment is. You go with a group of other auxiliares and a worker from BEDA to your appointment at the police station when it’s time for you to file all the paperwork to get your NIE. I really can’t express enough how helpful BEDA is with that whole process.

BEDA also sets up your bank account for you. At orientation, we received our account information and debit card. All you have to do is make sure to go to the bank again once you have your NIE to switch your account over from extranjero to residente.

During orientation, you also fill out all the paperwork regarding your contract and your enrollment with Comillas for the course. The only thing BEDA does not help you with is finding an apartment. But I’m sure they could give you some tips/advice if you emailed them.

What exactly do you do at your school?

This question really depends on your school and the coordinators for the BEDA program there. At the school I am at now, I only work with the English teachers. I teach 1 and 2 ESO (so the equivalent of 7th and 8th graders) and 1 Bachillerato (equivalent of juniors in HS). With my ESO kids, I take half of the class for 25 minutes and do whatever activity the teacher and I have decided on, then I switch and take the other half of the class for 25 minutes and do the same thing. I take my half of the class to a laboratory so I am on my own with them during that time. With my Bachillerato students, I teach them on my own for 55 minutes. I do the listening and speaking section of their English book for whatever unit they’re on and then whatever activity I would like for the remainder of the class time.

Each auxiliar will tell you they do something different. Also, it depends greatly on the age group you teach. I enjoy having the older kids because I find that I can do more activities with them that I enjoy and are a bit more challenging.

Do you enjoy being an Au Pair? Can you really do this while participating in BEDA?

Yes, I really love being an au pair. Granted, I don’t really see myself that way. It really feels more like I was adopted into this family. I loveeeeee the family I live with. I refer to the parents as my Spain Mom and Spain Dad and I love the kids as if they were my siblings. Obviously it’s possible to do something like this while participating in BEDA since I’m doing it 🙂 I would HIGHLY recommend it because I feel like you gain a whole new experience by living with a family rather than on your own or with roommates. It really is a matter of finding a family that you feel is a good fit for you. Don’t make the decision lightly, however, because it is a big commitment.

I think that covers most of the questions I get about the program. If I missed any or if you have another, please leave it in a comment below.

I will be updating again soon about my London trip and about my upcoming trip home for the holidays!!!

¡Hasta Luego!

My Blog is Nominated at ExpatsBlog for their Blog Awards!

Hello everyone!

I just received an email from ExpatsBlog saying that my blog has been nominated for the Expat Blog Awards 2012. It would be awesome if you, my wonderful readers, could go to my nomination link HERE and leave me a comment/review. Thanks so much everyone!! ¡Son los mejores lectores del mundo!

Ice Skating in Majadahonda.

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I went on a field trip with my 1st and 2nd ESO students to the ice rink in Majadahonda. The kids were awesome at helping me skate around the rink and were constantly arguing over whose turn it was to hold my hand 🙂
See if you’re able to spot me among my kiddies in the picture! Hint: I’m wearing a green jacket.

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The BEDA Application Period Has Begun!

Hello lovely readers!!

I just wanted to make a quick post to inform you that BEDA opened their application process at the beginning of November. The link where you can read more about the program and get the application/instructions is HERE.

So if you would like to be a language assistant here in Spain like me, get your application in! The closing date for applying is January 31, 2013.

The ministry program won’t be opening their application process until December, so now is the perfect time to apply to BEDA if you’re thinking of applying to both programs so that you aren’t filling out the applications for the two programs at the same time.

As always, if you have any questions please ask me 🙂 I know how daunting the application process can be.

¡Hablamos Luego!

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