Teaching English In Spain: Auxiliares de Conversación November Update

Hola! If you are new to my blog, bienvenido! You’ve stumbled upon my monthly Auxiliares de Conversación update, where I share all about my experiences teaching English and living in Spain. If you are interested in teaching abroad, are curious about life as an auxiliar, or simply enjoy keeping up with my Miss Adventures, then you are in the right place!

This month, I’m talking all about my second-month living and teaching in Spain-so buckle up, and get ready to hear all about working in a Spanish elementary school, my frustration with Spanish internet companies, Thanksgiving celebrations abroad, travels to Valencia and more!


Receiving my TIE

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It’s official-I’m legal! Legally permitted to live and work in Spain for the next few months, that is. After heading to the Oficina de Extranjeros twice in October to hand in my paperwork and get my fingerprints taken, my appointment to pick my card up in November went off without a hitch. Considering that my permesso de soggiorno somehow never made it to me during my entire year living in Italy, I was pretty impressed with how comparatively simple the process was. Bonus: I even got to take the day off work to pick it up, as my appointment was on a Monday and the office in Sevilla is way too far from my school in Lebrija.


I’m…getting the hang of teaching?

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If you told me two years ago that I’d be standing at the front of a classroom in Spain teaching twenty-five 7-year-olds how to sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” I probably would have laughed in your face.

Nonetheless, here I am doing exactly that.

I’m still very new to teaching, and I am constantly improving and getting a better feel for the job. October was filled with a lot of observation, trial, and error. I spent the first few weeks mostly “winging it” as I slowly discovered what activities work for which age levels and what each class’s level of English is.

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While I do still feel like I am winging it a lot of the time (I don’t have a teaching background!), I now have a much better understanding of how to create a lesson plan that fills an entire 45-minute class. While 45 minutes doesn’t seem like a lot of time, the kids I teach are between 6-12 years old and often have pretty short attention spans. I’ve found that the key is to come prepared with a variety of activities planned, and to always have a backup game, song, or worksheet in case the lesson runs more quickly than expected.

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I am also learning each day what it takes to command a classroom. While the kids are capable of sitting quietly and paying attention, there are always days where it seems like all my students want to do is chat with their neighbor, squirm around in their seats, and ignore the teacher. Stern looks, small threats (no recess, copying vocabulary instead of playing a game) definitely help combat this, but sometimes when I am tired this does get a bit exhausting!  Fortunately, if things ever get really out of control, the other teachers step in and really get the kids to behave. In general, the kids I teach are pretty good, although I have noticed a difference in classroom discipline-Spanish schools are much more relaxed than schools in the United States. I read a horror story the other day in the auxiliar Facebook group about a 5th-grade student who pulled down his pants and pooped right on the floor of the classroom. Yikes-I really have nothing to complain about!

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No matter how much planning I do before class (typically while on the train) I still feel like each day requires its fair share of improvisation! I am constantly learning new teacher’s tricks and am always looking for fresh games, activities, and songs to bring to class. I, unfortunately, am still waiting for wifi in my apartment (more on that later, but it’s slowly killing me!), but I can’t wait until I have more reliable internet access and can find some helpful online resources.

Side jobs: working in an academy + private lesson

I am continuing to enjoy working an extra 6 hours a week in an academy, and also began teaching my first clase particular. While this does make for some long days spent in Lebrija (two days I week I don’t make it home from the train station until 10 PM!), teaching in the academy has been really fun, and I love the smaller class sizes. Additionally, the extra money I make each week has really helped to offset the cost of my commute and helped to fund some of my travels! Now that I have settled into my schedule more, I am hoping to learn how to better maximize my time spent on my daily commute! (Have any tips?-Let me know in the comments!)


Getting Paid

Money. Euro.

Woot woot! One of the major downsides of the Auxiliaries de Conversation program is that the program is notorious for paying it’s auxiliaries late. However, in my case, I am happy to report that I was actually paid on time! I received my €700  for the month of October on November 7th, just a week after the month’s end. After getting used to late pay in Italy, this was amazing, and I was pleasantly surprised. That being said, I do know of Auxiliaries in other regions who did have longer wait times, so this timely payment experience, unfortunately, did not apply to everyone.


Social Life

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I have been fortunate enough to make quite a few friends in just two months! I often hang out with my roommates, fellow auxiliares, and I’ve met and befriended many Europeans who are doing their Erasmus in Sevilla . It feels as if I am constantly meeting someone new, and my circle of friends becomes a little larger every day! I have even managed to meet many students from Italy, which has been an amazing way to help me brush up on my Italian-something I didn’t expect to happen while living in Spain! One of my favorite parts of living abroad is the international friendships I am able to forge, and I have found this to be easy to do while living in Sevilla.


Learning Spanish

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Speaking of Spanish…prior to moving to Spain my Spanish…um…wasn’t the greatest. And by “wasn’t the greatest” I mean that it was one of my worst subjects in high school, and I forgot almost all of it when I began studying Italian in college. While I faithfully pledged to practice over the summer before moving to Spain, the summer came and went, and my Spanish level remained the same.

That being said, there is nothing like immersion to kick-start your language learning (or re-learning!). In just two months, I’ve managed to go from barely being able to choke out an “Hola” or a “Gracias” to having full on conversations in extremely grammatically incorrect, but (hopefully) intelligible, Spanish. While I have always been able to understand a lot of Spanish as it is quite similar to Italian, my ability to understand and respond has dramatically improved. It still is frustrating not being able to express myself the same way I am able to in Italian, but I am gradually gaining confidence and my vocabulary is improving. After a cerveza or two, I really get quite chatty! 😉


We STILL don’t have WiFi

If you have been following along with my blog or Instagram for some time, you may have noticed a dramatic decrease in the number of posts I’ve made. Why this decrease, you ask? I haven’t had any WiFi in my apartment! This has by far been the most frustrating part of moving to Spain. While most of my paperwork, apartment hunting, and other details that come with moving to a different country were sorted out in a few weeks, WiFi has been a nightmare all it’s own. I won’t bore you with the details of my struggle to get WiFi installed (that is a topic for another post), but I will tell you that it is definitely an issue with the internet companies of Sevilla, and there hasn’t been much I have been able to do to speed up the process. While I could attempt to work more out of cafes or libraries, many are closed when I have more free time, or the internet is slow or times out. This has all made blogging quite a challenge, and I am pretty sure I am slowly going insane. When I do actually have internet, I typically need to spend my time planning trips, booking flights and accommodations, and sorting out other necessary details.

The lack of internet has certainly been frustrating, but I have been trying to focus on the positives and constantly have to remind myself that hiccups like these are all part of the territory when it comes to moving abroad. I have instead used the time I would have spent blogging to meet friends, explore Sevilla, and detox a bit from social media…which has been…nice? Like I said-I’m trying to find the bright side!

Either way, keep your fingers crossed for me for internet in December! I’m sure once I am connected again I’ll go into hiding for a few weeks just to catch up on all of the posting I haven’t been able to do!


Travel

Cerro de Hierro

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I kicked off the month with a bit of local travel. Just 100 Kilometers from Sevilla you’ll find the Parque Natural de la Sierra Norte de Sevilla. This park is home to the amazing Cerro de Hierro. My roommates and I hopped on a train and then met up with some friends at the park for an excellent afternoon exploring the unique territory. While we didn’t do any intense hiking, we did enjoy escaping the city and taking in the natural beauty and rock formations within the park. If you ever end up living in Sevilla, I highly recommend taking a trip there for a bit of hiking or climbing!

Valencia

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My big trip during the month of November was to Valencia, and I am happy to report that the long overnight bus rides I took to get to and from the city were more than worth it! I absolutely fell in love with Valencia-the city really does have something to offer everyone. There is a charming historic center, amazing parks, cosmopolitan vibes, modern architecture, and of course, the beach! I felt that the city had a similar feel to Barcelona (another city I love), but with far fewer tourists. You can read more about visiting Valencia and check out my three-day itinerary here.

I also spent the month planning a few upcoming trips! Despite not having internet, I managed to book flights to Belgium and Copenhagen, and I will be returning home for 10 days over Christmas. Stay tuned for more!


Friendsgiving and Black Friday

It wouldn’t be the month of November without celebrating Thanksgiving! Even though Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday (I am totally a Christmas girl) I always try to meet up with fellow Americans to celebrate the holiday while living abroad.

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This year, a few of my friends hosted Friendsgiving. Though many traditional American foods are difficult (or impossible) to find, we managed to have a lovely meal. There was chicken (finding a large turkey proved to be difficult), mac and cheese, potatoes, salad, cider, and even a delicious sweet potato dessert in lieu of pumpkin pie. We had so much fun celebrating the holiday, and consumed entirely too much food! #noregrets

The next day, a bunch of us braved the crowds and went…Black Friday shopping? I had no idea that Black Friday existed outside of the United States-I don’t know how I missed the memo when living in Italy. It turns out, Spain goes all out on Black Friday with most stores offering 20%-30% discounts. I stocked up on warm sweaters and extra layers because it is finally starting to get chilly here in Andalusia. Fun fact-this was actually my first time ever shopping on Black Friday! Who would have thought I would go for the first time in Spain?


There you have it! The month of November in a nutshell! Now I’m just crossing my fingers that I have internet before my December update!

Interested in reading more posts on life as an Auxiliar de Conversación? You might also enjoy these posts:

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