Being an Au Pair in Spain.

I cannot even tell you how many emails and comments I’ve gotten asking me about this topic. So I figured a post would be an easy way for people to find the information they want quickly and in one place. So here goes:

1. How did you find your family?

My family actually found me. I had made a profile on aupairworld.net and they messaged me through there.

2. How did you decide which family to live with?

This was actually a much harder decision than I thought it would be. Originally, my school was in Alcalá  de Henares so I was looking for families there. I had found a great one and was whatsapping constantly with the mom when I got the news that I had been switched to a school in Majadahonda (the complete opposite side of Madrid). I obviously had to inform the family that due to the circumstances, I could no longer commit to them. So my search began all over again. Some families didn’t pan out because they wanted someone who could take the kids to school and pick them up in the evenings, and that just wasn’t a possibility with my work schedule. I ended up being torn between two families, one of which had been the one to initiate contact with me. I decided to skype with both families in order to help me make a better informed decision. This was definitely the best thing I could have done because the decision became very clear to me after speaking with the families. I chose the one that had contacted me first and it was the greatest decision I’ve ever made.

3. How should I decide which family is best for me?

The biggest thing I could tell you regarding choosing your family is to make sure that you are all clear about what your responsibilities with them entail. If you don’t want to work on Friday evenings and the weekends, make that clear from the beginning. If you want to be able to travel during holiday breaks and long weekends, make it known. Ask if they would be okay with you having friends from back home visit and stay with you. Ask what they expect you to do with the children. Do they just want you to speak and play with them in English or do they want you to give them formal lessons? Also, make sure you inform them about our BEDA classes. Mine were in the afternoons on Fridays so I always made sure to give my Spain mom a heads up that I would be arriving later those days.

The next thing is asking about accommodation. Is your room next to everyone else’s or in another part of the house? Do you have your own bathroom or do you share? Are you expected to buy your own groceries or eat with the family? I loved that my room was in the basement so I felt like I really had my own space. I also had my own bathroom, which was a definite bonus. I always ate dinner with the family, and I loved it because I truly felt like I was another member of the family.

I’m also not big on going out or meeting friends for dinner or drinks during the week, so that was never an issue with me. My Spain family never said that I was expected to go home directly after work, but I always did. If once in awhile you’d like to take an evening to have dinner with your friends, make sure to tell your family that. I really don’t see too many people have an issue with that request.

To reiterate, the MAIN thing when choosing your family is that you both have clear ideas of what your responsibilities will be.

4. Is being an au pair really worth it?

The greatest decision I made regarding my Spain life was living with my Spain family. So yes, for me it was most definitely worth it. First, I became a part of a family. I gained 3 little brothers and 1 little sister. I gained two awesome parents. And I know that I will consider these people my family forever. I’m also the type of person that seriously loves kids, so I really liked being with and playing with the kids. Second, I was able to travel so much more and the way I wanted (i.e. staying in hotels rather than hostels) because I was able to save more money because I didn’t have to pay for rent or groceries.

5. Did you truly, really, honestly enjoy your au pair experience?

YES. People always seem to think that I’m not being truthful. But being an au pair was one of the greatest things I have ever done. No doubts. No regrets. I love my Spain family and it’s nice to know that I’ve made a bond with these people that will last the rest of my life.

 

If you have any other questions, please leave it below in a comment 🙂

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.

Looking Back.

I’m sitting here on my bed, looking around at what has been my room for the past 9.5 months and I can’t believe that I’ll be heading home for the summer come tomorrow (by the time this publishes, I’ll be on a plane making my way to Charlotte, NC, where I catch my flight home to MD). This past year has been such an amazing learning and growing experience for me. I needed something that would push me out of my shell and this did exactly that. I think it’s so funny that when I tell the people I’ve met here in Spain that I’m shy, they all disagree with me and say that I’m not shy at all. That is, by far, my greatest accomplishment this past year.

Then there’s the fact that I always thought that I worked best with primary school aged children and I’ve learned here that I really enjoy and prefer working with secondary aged students. I’ve had such an amazing year with my students and will truly miss them over the summer. It was great to see their English improve over the year and feel like I was truly making a difference in their English education. I know that I’ll be really excited to be reunited with them come September. I have also been incredibly lucky in that I have bonded a great deal with the faculty at my school. I love that we are much more like a family than coworkers. It’s so nice to have that homey environment at work and it’s something that I value greatly. The teachers have me laughing constantly in the teacher’s lounge and during our merienda break and have been the best part of my experience at my school. I was sad when I said goodbye to them for the summer yesterday.

ProtagsAnd what would this year have been like without my amazing new friends? I can’t thank Diana, Sean, and Dan enough for the great memories and laughs they’ve given me this past year. It’s imperative to have quality friends anywhere, but especially when you’re living abroad and are away from your family and friends from home. So to have been lucky enough to find 3 people who I think the world of is pretty damn awesome.

Of course, travelling has also been a major theme this past year. Besides the obvious travel to Spain, I have also been able to visit a few other European countries that were on my bucket list. I never thought I would actually get to see the Eiffel Tower in person or visit King’s Cross station and see Platform 9 3/4. I never thought I would spend nearly 2 weeks visting Italy during Holy Week. Travelling has been an amazing advantage of living in Europe and I look forward to travelling some more when I return. That being said, I do want to travel a lot within Spain next year because I want to get to know that country I’m living in more. And Spain has so many beautiful places to see, it’d be a shame to live here and not visit them.

I must say, though, that the greatest thing that has happened to me this past year has been gaining another family here in Spain. My Spain family completely took me in and treated me like one of their own. The move here would have been a thousand times more difficult without them. I have loved every single second of being a big sister to the kids! My summer will feel too quiet without them. I’ll constantly be expecting to hear a knock at my door and a kid saying, “Yarelis, can I play with your phone?” or “Yarelis, juega conmigo.” And my Spain parents are the best! Anyone who watches telenovelas knows that when you find another person who watches them and loves the same ones you do, it’s like finding a kindred spirit…and I’ve found just that in my Spain mom 🙂 We also share a profound love of cheesecake. And I think I’ve mentioned on here before that my Spain mom is one of the best cooks ever…and if I haven’t mentioned it before, well, I’m saying it now: She is one of the best cooks ever! I never had a meal that she made that I did not enjoy. And my Spain dad is awesome. Super funny and he always has interesting stories and topics to tell/discuss with me. It’s been so great to live with a family that I not only love, but really admire and look up to.

While I am excited to see my family/friends and spend my summer with them, it feels great to know that when I return to Spain in September I’ll be welcomed by great friends and my other family. It’s always nice to know that you have a “home away from home.”

¡Nos vemos en dos meses y medio, Madrid!

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!

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