Hello there, nervous researcher that stumbled across this post. I was you once. Have no fear, I am here to convince you why teaching in Spain is the right choice for you. I am specifically here to convince you the Auxiliares de Conversación program is not as scary as the application process makes it out to be.
The Auxiliares de Conversación Program according to the Spanish Ministry:
“The Language and Culture Assistants program is coordinated by the Spanish Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Spanish Comunidades Autónomas (regions) and the Education Offices of the Embassies of Spain in the United States and Canada. It gives Junior and Senior College students as well as College Graduates an opportunity to visit Spain and become acquainted with the Spanish education system, teachers and students, while sharing with them aspects of their own language and culture. The assistants will also have the opportunity to learn about Spanish language and culture and use their experience upon their return to the United States, thus helping to develop cultural understanding between the citizens of Spain and the United States. The program begins in October and ends in May. The academic calendar, however, is subject to the regional education norms.”
You can find more information and the application by clicking here.
The application process usually opens at the beginning of January and ends mid April. This year the application closes April 5th at 6pm Eastern Time. So, there is definitely still time to apply!
Before I start, I want to say this program is not for the faint of heart. I am definitely not going to sugar coat that for you. The application itself is like trying to read hieroglyphics, you don’t have much of a choice where you are placed (for first year applicants), and you are on your own once they give you your placement (visas, airfare, apartment hunting, phone plans…list goes on).
All this being said, I cannot be thankful enough that I decided to go ahead and do this program. To be honest, I have big bones to pick with the program itself. There will definitely be a post dedicated to this in the future, but for now I want to focus on the positive effects this program will have on your life. Because really, I don’t care how many complaints I have about this program. I would go through all the bullshit over and over again if it meant I could be here, where I am today.
The job itself depends on where you are placed. Basically if you are placed anywhere outside the Community of Madrid, you will work 12 hours a week and receive a 700 euro stipend per month. Since this is technically a grant, we are not taxed on our monthly salary. Wooo hooo! If you are in Madrid, you will work 16 hours per week and get paid 1000 euros per month.
Yes, this is enough money to live off of. I have lived off the 700 euro stipend and am currently living off the 1000 euro stipend in Madrid. Which brings me to the first benefit of the program…
Benefit Numero Uno: The Money Factor
Money Factor Part 1: The program is free. Other programs, like CIEE, cost big $$$$ and if you don’t have that money, the Auxiliar program is the choice for you. I ALSO just found out that they are offering discounts to fly through Iberia if you do this program. I’ve flown Iberia my past two years on this program. So upset they didn’t do this sooner. -____-
Money Factor Part 2: Budgeting. You will learn how to budget. There is no better way to learn what little amount of money you can live and travel off of until you’re forced to.
For the past year and a half, I have successfully lived off both of the salaries I discussed above. Granted, I am no expertise at this and sometimes still end up with 1 euro in my bank account 2 weeks before we’re supposed to get paid butttt you know, nobody’s perfect.
Money Factor Part 3: Private Lessons. Almost everyone does private lessons. Basically you will have to do them. The only people I know that don’t do private lessons are in different programs that pay more (but you work more hours, thus the reason for getting paid more) orrrr they have big ol savings. Private lessons are a very good opportunity to make some extra money, which is what we all need in order to fund our adventurous (and sometimes alcoholic) habits. Luckily for us native English speakers, we are at very high demand and you can find lessons no problem.
Although dealing with money and learning how to budget might not be the most fun benefit, you really do learn how to appreciate it. It is a skill you need for life, so better to learn when you’re young, right?
Benefit number 2: Four. Day. Work. Weeks.
In rare cases, 3-day work weeks. You get Fridays or Mondays off. (In my case, Fridays both years. Whooooot.) What is life.
This is the only Teach-in-Spain program (besides CIEE, but remember, $$$) that allows this to happen. The rest are all 5 days a week, in which you will probably work 20-25+ hours a week. Fulbright Scholars will get a 4-day work week, but they have a lot of behind-the-scenes work to do. School is basically only 60% of their job, while they have the rest of that 40% to diligently plan what is required of their scholarship.
So, what other job will you ever have that 4-day work weeks is a thing?! No further explanation needed.
Benefit number 3: TRAVELING.
My god if this isn’t reason enough I’m not sure what is. I am guessing if you are reading this and want to teach abroad, traveling is a top priority on your list.
This is where those 4-day work weeks come into play. This is a huge benefit to the program. My roommate this year has to work Fridays, and it is never fun for her to watch me wave “Adiós!” as I leave to hop on a Thursday night flight to wherever I’m going.
In addition to the 3-day weekends, Spain basically has a holiday for everything. I have Fridays off, and essentially every month we have a Monday off. Which means 4-day weekends. Which means see ya Spain and helllooo new country! We also receive 3 weeks off for Christmas break, and about 10 days off for Easter break. The past two years I have used these weeks to their full advantage. A lot of people decide to go home (especially for Christmas), but don’t go back if you don’t have to! You can get through the holidays over here, I promise.
Also, it’s so cheap to get anywhere. Nothing feels greater than buying your first 20 euro round-trip ticket. Yes those do exist, thank you RyanAir <333.
Benefit number 4: The people you will meet.
I have met people from all walks of life that have left tiny imprints on my soul. From breakfast at hostels to living with complete strangers that have become my family…the people I have met on this program/abroad are the people that have made some of the biggest impacts on my life. You will meet people and hear stories that astonish you. There have been so many people that I have met, and thought to myself how lucky I am to have had them walk into my life. These are very special kinds of relationships that you won’t understand fully until you experience them yourself. I truly cherish them.
Benefit number 5: Meeting yourself.
Whether you are placed in a tiny pueblo in Asturias by yourself or living it up in the city of Madrid with thousands of other expats, this program will force you to face yourself head-on. You will fight your demons and find what makes you tick. I promise you, you will come out of this year so surprised at what you are capable of. You will have story upon story and you will have created a life you are proud of. No one can take that away from you.
So. APPLY. Do it. Accept your position. Yes, it is okay to be scared shitless and wonder if this is the right choice. But I am telling you, it is the right choice.