Teaching English In Spain: Auxiliares de Conversación January 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 case of the “Januaries,” why I’m freezing in sunny Andalusia, my new favorite classroom activity, and my travels to Denmark and Merida!

A Case of the Januaries

This month I must admit to having a little case of the “Januaries.” I don’t know about you, but for me, January always seems to be the longest month of the year, and this year was no exception.

The saddest part is, I even had the first week of January off! (It still felt like a busy week because I spent it traveling back from the US and squeezed in a short trip to Copenhagen!)

botellion-sevilla

The only known cure for the “Januaries”: Botellón con amigos!

I wish I could say that I returned home from my travels rejuvenated and ready to start 2018 off on a good note. Unfortunately, I got pretty sick when I was at home, and actually spent the first week of the month recovering! This probably contributed to the overall fatigue I experienced when heading back to work.

However, once I got back into my routine (and it got closer to February), my case of the “Januaries” went away, and I began feeling less exhausted, more optimistic, and ready to take on 2018!

Auxiliar de Conversación Renewal

As every Auxiliar de Conversación knows, January is the month in which new applicants can apply to the program, and old applicants renew. As the application process is first come, first served, the day that the application opens, there is always a flurry of activity as applicants try to grab the lowest possible inscrita number.

So, did I decide to renew?

Yes.

I managed to receive a number in the 400s this year (which is quite low), despite nearly forgetting what time the application opened!

profex

Ah, PROFEX…we meet again.

That being said, I am still not 100% sure if I will be repeating the program next year. There is a lot to consider before committing to another year teaching English in Spain. If you are wondering what some of my considerations are, here is a list of some of the factors that will ultimately determine whether I spend another year in Spain.

  1. Placement. Not only am I hoping to be placed again in Andalucia, but being placed in a city (preferably Sevilla) is absolutely essential for me. This year I have had an incredibly long commute. While I am happy I chose to live in Sevilla as opposed to the pueblo where I work, being so far from home has really cut down on my productivity and ability to work on my blog. If I stay another year, I absolutely cannot have a commute this long.
  2. Career goals. At this point, I don’t necessarily see myself teaching English forever. (Although the thought of teaching English around the world is pretty exciting.) When making my final decision, I will definitely have to evaluate in living in Spain for another year is in line with my ultimate career goals, or if it is a factor which may hold me back.
  3. Funds. In addition to my commute being quite long, it is also pretty expensive! Each month I spend €180 simply getting to school. While this might not sound like a lot of money, when you only make €700 a month, it is a huge chunk of pay. To stay another year, I need to evaluate how many private or academy classes I’d need to teach in order to save some funds, and still have the ability to travel.  I also need to figure out my money-making plans for the summer!
  4. Travel. In my time working and living in both Italy and Spain, I’ve been able to see quite a bit of Europe. While there are so many places I have yet to explore, and cities I’d love to re-visit, the world is pretty big! One of my future goals is to spend some time exploring Southeast Asia. Another year in Spain will definitely help me access more of Europe, but it won’t put me closer to this goal! I’ll need to put some serious thought into what travels would be realistic with another year spent in Spain.
  5. Blogging. I moved to Spain and first started this job with the intention of working “only” 12 hours per week and spending the rest of my time on my blog. If you’ve read some of my previous Auxiliaries Updates, then you’re already aware of the fact that I spent my first 3 months in Spain completely without internet. I am working pretty hard to catch up, but this definitely stalled my progress and blogging goals. Also, with my commute and additional academy work to help fund my commute, I am out of the house almost as much as a full-time worker, and have some pretty long days. Not all is lost, though! I have been traveling quite a bit and gathering lots of new content, both of which are essential for a successful travel blog!

Winter in Spain

That awkward moment when you wear the same layers in Andalucia as you do in Chicago or Denmark... I won't lie, sometimes I wear this coat in the house. :0

That awkward moment when you wear the same layers in Andalucia as you do in Chicago or Denmark… I won’t lie, sometimes I wear this coat in the house. :0

Fun fact: winter in Spain is absolutely FREEZING, and it has almost nothing to do with the actual temperature.  You know it’s bad when I’m saying that and I’m originally from Chicago.

Why is Spain so cold, you ask? Even though the temperatures here in Sevilla ranges between 40-60 °F, I have become convinced that Spaniards (or at least Andalucians) don’t believe in heat. The buildings here in Andalucia are in no way equipped for winter, and I kid you not when I say that I’m pretty certain that my apartment is usually colder than the air outside.

While my apartment does have heat, energy is quite expensive in Spain, so many people simply choose to go without. Seriously, my friend’s space heater brought her electricity bill up almost €50 a month! I’m teaching on a budget, so I chose to forgo a purchasing a space heater and instead invest in an amazingly thick (and cozy) €15 blanket. Best purchase of 2017, hands down. If I’m in my house, you are pretty much guaranteed to find me wrapped up in a blanket burrito, wearing as many layers as possible, and drinking copious amounts of tea.

Welcome to winter in Andalucia. Frozen.

Resuming Classes

december-auxiliar-classroom-spain

There isn’t much that is new to report about teaching! After 3 months, I am pretty well settled in both at school and at the academy where I work. You can read more about my day-to-day classroom life in some of my earlier monthly recaps (here and here).

Now that I am more used to teaching and the kids are more accustomed to our classroom routines, I’ve found that I’ve had to try to switch things up a little. Without changing activities frequently, the kids get bored or finish exercises too quickly. To help avoid this, I’ve worked at finding new games that hold their attention. Additionally, I’ve found ways to make effective activities a bit more challenging. In some classes, a few of the students are more advanced, so I always try to have an extra worksheet or activity prepared for those who typically finish early.

My favorite new game I tried this month has been a variation of 20 Questions. I handed out sample questions under the categories “Person,” “Place,” or “Thing” to help inspire the kids, and have been letting them go to town. It has been fun watching them put questions together, and they have learned some new vocabulary in their quest to discover the answers!

Adulting

Along with being completely comfortable with my school routine, I’ve finally developed a system for optimizing my free time! I have specific days where I grocery shop, a laundry schedule, and I even do quite a bit of meal prepping to save me time (and ensure a healthy diet) during the week.

Since my commute is so long, it has been really great establishing a routine that works for me, and I have been able to more effectively use my time.

The only thing I really need to improve on is my sleep schedule! I am pretty terrible at getting to bed early, which is not ideal when you wake up 4 days a week at 6:00 AM or 7:00 AM. Once I improve on going to bed earlier, I will probably feel more awake during my commute, and hopefully be able to get some blogging done on the train.

My Travels

My goal each month while living in Spain is to head to two different locations, ideally for one weekend trip and one day trip. This month I chose to visit Copenhagen during my last few days of Christmas break, and also took a day trip to nearby Merida.

Copenhagen

nyhavn-maa-copenhagen-denmark

I had a phenomenal time during my long weekend in Denmark. Copenhagen is so easy to navigate and most of the landmarks are pretty close together, so I loved that I didn’t feel like I was trying to squeeze too much into one weekend. I explored the city’s beautiful and historic palaces, visited an amazing art collection, saw the iconic Little Mermaid statue, and took way too many photos of the picturesque Nyhavn harbor. I even managed to squeeze in a day trip to visit Frederiksborg Castle (which totally blew me away) and Kronborg Castle, the setting of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Another successful solo trip in the books! You can read more about my epic Copenhagen weekend itinerary here!

Mérida

merida-spain-theater-maa

Just a few hours outside of Sevilla lies the capital of Extremadura, Mérida. The city is known as the home of some of Spain’s most impressive Roman ruins. As a lover of art history, and total Ancient Rome nerd, I knew I had to make a trip at some point! Plus, I am trying to visit as many regions in Spain as I can! (So far I’ve covered Andalucia, Catalunya, Madrid, Valencia, and now Extremadura.)

I finally got around to visiting Mérida this month (after several failed attempts, mainly due to my desire to sleep in on Sundays). My friend and I hopped on a bus and spent a day back in time, stumbling upon amphitheaters, temples, theaters, among other ancient sites. While I was more impressed by the amphitheater I visited in Italica, the theater of Merida was the best Roman theater I’ve seen yet, and I’ve visited Roman ruins in 4 countries! If you happen to be traveling through Extremadura, are obsessed with Ancient Rome, or are looking for a day trip option from Madrid or Sevilla, you can check out my Mérida day trip guide here!

Coming Up…

Stay tuned next month for my next Auxiliares de Conversación update! I’ll be talking all about life in Spain, and my upcoming visits to Barcelona and Rome!


Interested in learning more about life as an Auxiliar de Conversación? Then be sure to check out these posts:

Leave a Comment