My Biggest Move Yet
Although it has been official for a while now, the moment has come to make it blog official— I’m moving to Madrid, Spain! I’ve been dreaming this dream since I returned from studying abroad in Sevilla in 2005 and a lot has gone into making it happen, including securing a year leave-of-absence from my school district. I’ve been back to Spain six times since then and every trip has nudged me more and more to plant some Spanish roots.
The supreme planner that I am, I have been setting myself up for this move for years. It was after walking the Camino on my own, that I knew I was fully capable of making a bold move like this— at a time when many of my peers are saying their “I dos” and having babies. I turned 20 living in Spain and I will turn 30 living there as well, which will offer an entirely new life perspective. A year soaking up vino tinto, tasting tortilla and becoming madrileña is going to lead to great personal and professional growth.
There are a number of programs that bring native English speakers to Spain to serve as language and cultural assistants in Spanish schools. My title will be an “auxiliar de conversación” through the Ministry of Education. I’m not sure what my schedule will be until I start, but I will only be assisting the classroom teacher by providing cultural lessons and native speaker expertise, so there is a ton of pressure relieved. I have read various auxiliar experiences and I’m just hoping for a happy medium between bored and abused. This isn’t my first rodeo teaching, but I’ve also never taught
English British English before. Just anticipating the moment when a 15-year-old boy asks me for a rubber to erase his paper. Cue immature laughter.
After getting accepted into the program and placed in Madrid at the end of April, I began the grueling process of gathering documents for my Spanish visa and set an appointment for early July at the consulate in Chicago. In true Spanish fashion, the last document I needed arrived in my inbox the day before my appointment.
I will be teaching at IES Carmen Martín Gaite, a secondary school in Navalcarnero, a town about 30 kilometers southwest of Madrid. Part of me fears Spanish teenagers, the other part doesn’t feel phased by them with my seven years of experience teaching high school, and the other part wishes I was going to be getting daily hugs from little Spanish nuggets. It was also an adjustment to learn I would be commuting 40 minutes via bus to this town. My dream to live near Parque Retiro quickly changed. Now, as I fall asleep each night, I’m checking Idealista.com for a piso that will make this commute easier, but still keep me central in the city.
The program will grant me a student visa from October through June and a monthly stipend of 1,000€— all for only 16 hours of actual teaching (assisting) per week. It’s certainly enough to live in Madrid and will give me some time to do some private tutoring, learn more Spanish, and actually blog about it all.
My plan is to fly standby to Madrid at the end of August, start the apartment hunt, and travel for a few weeks with Filippo in Northern Spain and Portugal.
I have been on a rollercoaster of emotions this past year as I made the decision to do this and went through all the steps of making it happen, but I’m confident that Spain is where I need to be.
The adventure is calling.