BEDA 2014-2015 APPLICATIONS ARE OPEN!

Just wanted to leave the link here on my blog for those interested in applying to the BEDA program:

http://www.ecmadrid.org/en/programs/beda-program/144-auxiliares-de-coversacion/475-solicitudes

I believe that it will be open until January 31st. GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE APPLYING! If you’re accepted, you’re in for the experience of a lifetime 🙂

Also, on the application there are spaces where it asks for a cell phone number and NIE number from Spain, if you’re applying from anywhere OUTSIDE of Spain, you don’t need to worry about this. But there are some people who apply from other programs in Spain who do have this information available, which is why there is that section in the application.

Bureaucracy.

There is a lot of paperwork involved when you decide to stay in Spain for another year. The bulk of this paperwork is in the NIE renewal process. It’s actually not that horribly bad…except for all the copies you have to make. Also, I would have been entirely lost in regards to what in the heck I needed to provide for this if it weren’t for BEDA and the auxiliares facebook group. The BEDA coordinator sent out a greatly detailed email explaining to us, step by step, what we needed to do in order to renew our NIEs.

The main things you need to make copies of are: your entire passport, your current NIE (front and back), the certificate that shows you’ve completed your work as an auxiliar for the current year, and the letter of your placement for next year. Then you fill out 2 copies of the EX-oo form, which is available online. You also need to pay the tasa for the renewal, which is also available online to fill out. Once you have all of that, you just need to go to the consejeria to turn it all in. You do have to triple check that you’re turning everything in, because the people at the office will not be able to help you in that regard. They just take all your papers and then put a sticker on one of the EX-00 copies to show that you’ve submitted the application.

The only thing is, you will more than likely have to take a day off of work in order to turn everything in because the hours are from 9-2, which is usually when most of us are at work. I was lucky in that my students had a field trip to the amusement park, so I took that day to get it done. I would have felt more comfortable taking the day off work if I hadn’t missed 4 days a few weeks prior when I had tonsillitis. If you do end up taking the day off of work, they will provide you with a justificante at the extranjería upon your request.

The next step is getting your autorización de regreso, which you need if you have an expired NIE and are planning to travel outside of Spain. Getting this is a pretty simple process that’s done at Aluche. You need a copy of your passport (when I went, the guy only took the page with my picture and information…but I had brought a copy of the entire thing JIC), a copy of your NIE (front and back), your paid tasa (which you need to pick up at a police station because it’s not available online), a copy of the EX-00 with the sticker showing you’ve submitted your NIE renewal paperwork, a copy of your flight plans, a printout of your appointment for the authorization (you do that online), and 2 filled out copies of the EX-13 (available online). You need to bring the original of each document to show the government worker, so make sure you bring all of those with you too. Again, the Aluche office is open from 9-2, so you’ll probably need to ask for a justificante.

My biggest piece of advice is to get to the offices a few minutes before they open. I can assure you that there will already be a line, so it’s best to get an early start. For my authorization, I got there about 15 minutes before they opened and was out the door again just 20 minutes after they let us all in. I got to the renewal place about 10 minutes after they opened, and was in and out in less than 5 minutes. I heard of one person who went later in the day to get his authorization and waited in line for 5 hours. Better to sacrifice some sleep and be able to get it done early and quickly, rather than lose an entire day at one of these offices.

All that being said, doing all this isn’t as bad as it seems. Once you start getting all the documents together, you realize it’s not that bad of a process. It’s just really time consuming. It’s also entirely worth it in order to be able to stay in Spain for one more year 🙂

Winding Down.

The end of my first year in Spain is quickly approaching. I can’t believe how quickly these months have gone by! I only have 2 weeks left and then I head back to Maryland for the summer. I have so much to do before I leave and I feel like I don’t have enough time. I’m currently attempting to get all of my paperwork for my NIE renewal together. It’s a pain. So many copies need to be made and tasas need to be paid. I really truly did not mean for that to rhyme. I’m getting all the copies and such done this week because I want to head over to turn in all my paperwork next Wednesday since my students are going on a field trip to the amusement park so that way I’m not missing any actual class. Seeing as how I was out a few days last week because I had the illness of death, I’m trying to get this done without missing too much work.

I never knew tonsillitis could suck so hardcore, but having a fever of 102.7 was no party. And the fact that it took me filling a ziplock bag with ice and placing it on my head, neck, and back to get it to finally go down was ridiculous. Oh and apparently the infection was so bad that it caused me to have blisters on my hands and feet as well. Thankfully I’ve finished the antibiotics and am feeling as good as new now. And once again I am eternally grateful to the fact that my insurance here covers house calls from the doctor. There was no way I could make the bus and metro ride to see my doctor in the city.

I wish the fun ended with the NIE renewal…but no. I also have to get an autorización de regreso since I leave to go back to the states soon and my NIE will be expired and I need that to be able to return to Spain in September. Oh and did I mention that both of these things require me to pay a tasa at the bank? And banks here close for the day at 2 in the afternoon…when I’m still at work. It’s super convenient. I think the best part has been making 2 copies of every single page in my passport because they sometimes require a copy of the entire thing for both the NIE renewal and the authorization. I say sometimes because it’s a luck of the draw whether the person says you need the entire thing or just the first page and visa page. I’m basically expecting some version of this to go down:

I also had some confusion filling out the EX-00 form for the renewal. I think I’ve got it correct, but there were 2 sections that threw me off. I’m pretty sure they’re right, but I’m  paranoid that I’m going to do something wrong and screw up my entire renewal process. I’ll be sure to write another post once I actually go file it.

And on an entirely and completely random note: if you’ve read my About the Expat section, you will see that The Book Thief is listed as one of my all-time favorite books. Well, one of my sisters mentioned to me that she’s reading it for the first time and it made me want to reread it (I’ve already read it twice), but I legitimately had to stop reading because I started to cry every single time Rudy Steiner appeared/was mentioned. I tweeted this to the author, Markus Zusak, yesterday on twitter and he REPLIED to me. I just about screamed. Here’s the screenshot of it:

markuszusak

This is the 2nd time that someone I hugely love/admire has either replied or favorited my tweet. A few months ago, I tweeted that all I wanted in my life was to marry Ronan Farrow and he favorited the tweet:

RonanFarrow

So basically, I’m going to marry Ronan Farrow and I’m also BFF with Markus Zusak.

That’s all for now. I’ll be finishing up my Italy posts soon. I’m still writing up the Rome post and the small Siena post.

¡Hablamos Pronto!

Learning to Leave.

If you go to the About the Expat section of my blog, you’ll see that I mention that I am an avid reader. Recently, I was rereading one of my favorite books, Paper Towns, by one of my all-time favorite authors: John Green. I read this book years ago when it first came out and I hadn’t reread it since. If I loved this book before, it is now one of my top 3 favorite books. I relate to it so much more now that I’ve had this experience of living abroad. There were 2 quotes that struck me the most when I was reading the book. The first:

It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.

If you are an expat, I’m sure you can relate to this quote. I was so nervous about leaving my home, friends, and family when I was getting ready to move to Spain. And then once I arrived, I realized how stupid I’d been to be so scared. I never really had horrible homesickness (luckily). I honestly didn’t start to miss home until Thanksgiving. And at that point, I only needed to hold on 3 more weeks because I knew I was visiting home for Christmas. While I am super excited to be going home for the summer and spending time with my family, I am also thrilled at the idea of returning to Spain in September and planning all my next adventures.

For all the future auxiliares (I know BEDA and the Ministry have started handing out placements), I know that it seems so insanely scary to uproot your life to another country, but just as the quote says, leaving is hard until the moment in which you finally leave. You will meet new people and make new friends. I am so grateful for my tight-knit group of friends here in Spain. Diana, Sean, and Dan are the greatest friends I could have found here. It’s rare to find people who you just “click” with and that’s what I’ve found in them. My Italy trip wouldn’t have been half as fun if I hadn’t had Diana with me. And then there is my amazing Spain family. I will never be able to thank them enough for taking me in and making me another member of their family. I’ve gone from being the baby sister in my family back home to the big sister here and I’ve loved every minute of it.

The other quote that struck me while I was reading was the following one:

Leaving feels good and pure only when you leave something important, something that mattered to you. Pulling life out by the roots. But you can’t do that until your life has grown roots.

This is so utterly and completely true. Before Spain, I had never been away from my family for longer than a few days. I went to college in-state and I saw my family every weekend. Not to mention since my mom works at a sorority at my university, I saw her during the week too. I’ve lived in Maryland my entire life. My dog is in Maryland…I know this probably seems absurd…but I realllyyyy love my dog. All of my friends are in Maryland. Maryland is my comfort zone. So completely uprooting my life to move to Spain was a big decision. But this journey wouldn’t have half of the significance if I didn’t leave all those things behind. So while I know many of the future auxiliares are likely scared shitless about this move…that’s good. That means it’ll be all the more worthwhile once you’re finally here in Spain…or wherever it is that your journey is taking you. Can’t wait to meet some of you this September 🙂

Special Guests.

20130320-090110.jpg

Since it’s semana cultural at my school, this week is is full of all sorts of activities. Yesterday, Cristina Medina, the actress who plays Nines in La Que Se Avecina, came to the school to talk to my ESO kids about acting and such. She was super nice! This picture is me and most of the 1 and 2 ESO teachers with her.

I’m prepping to leave for Italy for semana santa, so I’m going to try and write a quick post tonight about how I packed for the 11 day trip. If not, you’ll be getting quite a few posts upon my return April 1st.
¡Hablamos pronto!

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My Life as an Auxiliar in Spain

I get a lot of emails that inquire about my life in Spain. Most people ask if I’m friends with other auxiliares, what I do in my free time, and what I do at my colegio.

So here’s a little glimpse into my auxiliar life here.

I work at an awesome school located in Alcorcón. Mondays are my busiest day because I teach 6 classes. Mondays and Wednesdays I finish at 3:30, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2:30, and Fridays at 1:35. The earliest I have to be at my school is 9:25 and that’s on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. You may think that since I go in at that time it means I don’t have to get up so early…well, you’re wrong. I live in the outskirts of Madrid, so the commute to my school takes 1.5 hours. So on the days I have to go in at 9:25, I wake up at 6:30, and am on the bus that takes me to the metro by 7:40. Since I have a decent commute, I’ll normally pass the time listening to music, or reading on my kindle, and sending whatsapps to my fellow language assistants since everyone else back home is asleep.

Most of the time, I get to the school around 9:10 so that gives me a good amount of time to get myself together for my first class. I have class from 9:25-11:15 (That’s two class periods). Then I have a merienda break until 11:45. During this time, I go to a nearby cafe with my fellow teachers and have some coffee along with a tostada con mermelada.

[Side note 1: I have been extremely lucky in that I get along spectacularly with the faculty at my school. They have invited me to meet up with them many times during the weekend to go shopping together or out to eat. I can definitely say that they constantly keep me laughing. They’re always joking with me saying that I’m going to tell everyone back home that the teachers in Spain are all insane. What I will be telling people is that if all the faculty in Spain is like the one at my school, then it’s the best faculty in the world.]

Due to the fact that we spend the vast majority of our break talking, we always end up rushing to get back in time for the next class. Then it’s full force ahead from 11:45-2:30 or 3:30 depending on the day. Tuesdays are nice because I don’t start until 11:45 and Fridays are spectacular because I only teach one class at 12:40 and then I’m done for the day. Granted, Fridays are the days that I have BEDA class, but since those aren’t that often, I normally get to do some shopping or go to my all-time favorite pastry shop in Las Rozas (Pan Coffee). The woman who works there, Vicki, knows me by name and will normally start cutting the slice of cheesecake I always order as soon as I walk through the door. I love that about Spain. How you can have such a nice relationship with the people who work at the locations that you frequent the most often. A few weeks ago, my friend Diana and I were at LUSH buying a birthday gift for a friend of ours, and the LUSH employee recognized me because I go there so often. Granted, this was the same employee who witnessed me spill about half of a container of lotion that they had on display down my jacket, jeans, and boots sooo I guess that would be somewhat memorable.

[Side note 2: I don’t really want to bore you with the details of what I do with each class. I will tell you that the coordinator always meets me with me once a week and tells me what I’ll be doing with my ESO classes during the following week. This week, for example, my ESO classes have to pick a song, print about 5 copies of the lyrics with blanks, and lead the class in a listening activity using the song. I made my 2 ESO students translate it as well because they have a higher English level than the 1 ESO students. With my Bach students I am required to do the listening and speaking sections of their textbook to the corresponding unit they’re on and then another activity of my choosing. If you would like more details regarding what I do with my classes, let me know. I’d be happy to write up a post about it. Or if you’d like me to tell you in an email, that works too.]

The weekend is when I’ll try to make it into Madrid to see my friends. Sometimes we’ll go shopping and others we’ll go get something to eat. [Side note 3: One of my good friends here has a blog which you can see here.] A few weeks ago we celebrated Sean’s birthday by having brunch and then walking around Madrid. I’ll leave you with the pictures from the occasion at the end of this post. I will try to update again soon. Feel free to ask me any other questions you may have about auxiliar life here in España, I’m more than happy to help. Como siempre…¡hablamos luego!

Here are some pics as promised (Click on the image to enlarge it):

Budgeting Your Life in Madrid

A lot of potential auxiliares worry about the paycheck and how they will make ends meet every month. I’ve asked around and done some research in order to tell you the average that people spend on things like rent, groceries, and utilities every month (this information is regarding the Madrid community).

Before I get into the breakdown of rent and such, I have to discuss the average pay for auxiliares. For the ministry program, auxiliares in Madrid get 1000€. With BEDA, the pay works differently. Your pay with BEDA depends on the amount of hours you work. Here is a breakdown of the payment:

  • 24 hours: 1200€ (gross)
  • 22 hours: 1100€ (gross)
  • 20 hours: 1000€ (gross)
  • 18 hours: 900€ (gross)

Now, with that being said, we can move on to where that money will be going every month. First up is RENT. The bulk of your paycheck will be going towards rent. The average rent in Madrid ranges from 300-550€. The range is large because there are areas of Madrid that are more expensive to live in than others. Malasaña and Salamanca are two areas that tend to be on the more expensive side. Places like La Latina, Moncloa, and Príncipe Pío tend to be a little more reasonable in their rent. How much you’re willing to pay for rent really depends on you and the type of place you want to live in. Another thing to keep in mind is that the utilities are often not included when they tell you the rent, so add another 30€ or so to it.  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!

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!

Ch-ch-changes.

There are two main reasons for my lack of blogging as of late:

1. I have been incredibly busy with work for the school.

2. When you have nothing positive to blog, it’s best not to blog anything at all.

I posted awhile ago about the responsibilities at my school for BEDA. I also mentioned that I had spoken with the coordinator regarding the issue of me being left alone during one of my classes my first week. Well, even after the coordinator called and spoke with my school, they had a meeting with me and informed me that I would be left alone with the students because that was the way that they had designed the auxiliar hour to function. I didn’t bother to mention this again to my coordinator because I thought that maybe I could cope with the situation. I was able to deal with that aspect pretty well, just like I thought. However, I could not get use to the amount of students that I was responsible for and the amount of lesson planning that I had to do. I spent over 7 hours on Sunday researching lessons and videos for my 6 Monday classes. I knew this week would be the true test of whether I could handle being at this school because it was the first week with full school days. All of September was half days, so I didn’t have the majority of my assigned primary students.

Turns out that this school and I are just not compatible. I had a complete breakdown yesterday and made the decision to call the coordinator again first thing in the morning and tell her that I could not handle the situation at my school. During my commute to the school this morning, I called the coordinator and explained my situation to her and she offered to switch me to a different school. I happily agreed. I should mention that my main issue with the school was that they were treating me like I was a legitimate teacher rather than an auxiliar.

Tomorrow I have my NIE appointment at the comisaria at 8:30 in the morning and will be starting at my new school afterwards. My new school is in another region of Madrid, so I won’t even be in Majadahonda anymore. My commute will likely be a little longer and I’ll be working less hours, but I will GLADLY make those sacrifices in order to maintain my sanity. I’ll keep you all posted about the NIE appointment and my first day at my new school.

¡Hablamos Luego!

P.S. To my friends back home: I am terribly sorry for my lack of communication. I promise that it was due to lack of time, not my lack of missing you all since I miss you all terribly! Now that I’m switching schools, I should have more time to talk 🙂

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