So to recap, I’m moving to Spain! Very exciting.
But what will I actually be doing in Spain? Great question! I’ve been placed in an elementary school in the city where I’ll be living (Logroño). This is pretty great, because some people have to commute an hour each way to get to/from their schools, or chose to live in a tiny pueblo. I seriously lucked out with my placement, and am pretty relieved I’m not leaving the traffic of LA to move across the world to an even worse commute!
The program in general works as such:
For every region other than Madrid, you work 12 hours a week and get paid 700 euros a month (no, that’s not a typo, I am actually losing more that 75% of my monthly salary!). A huge perk is that because you’re only working 12 hours a week, it’s extremely common to have three day weekends, which does not sound too shabby to me. In Madrid, to combat the higher cost of living, they work 16 hours a week and get 1,000 euros a month. Per hour, this is pretty comparable to what other professional Spaniards make. For me, it’s something that results an anxiety attack if I think about it for too long.
That said, almost everyone supplements their income with private lessons or by working at a language academy.
There are pros and cons to both private lessons and language academies. Private lessons pay more per hour. The going rate in Logroño is 15 euros an hour for one person, 20 for two, and so on. These lessons can be easier to plan, and often just involve playing games with a kid, or having a conversation on a specific topic with an adult. You also have complete control over your schedule. Those awesome three day weekends? You can keep them by just not scheduling classes on Fridays! Have friends coming to visit? Tell your clients you’re unavailable for a week. There’s tons of flexibility. The downside is there is pretty much no security. People can cancel on you at any time, or decide to stop taking lessons, and suddenly your paycheck is tiny again with no notice. Another less than ideal aspect is travel time. If a lesson is a 20 minute walk from your apartment, you’re actually getting 15 euros for an hour and forty minute time commitment. That sounds a lot less appealing than 15 euros an hour.
Language academies are much more of a commitment. In general you’re teaching larger groups, often fully classes of people. This usually means more lesson planning, though some academies will do this for you. You get paid less than 15 an hour, but you work a lot more hours, so in general you’ll make much more working at an academy than just by private lessons. You don’t have to worry about someone flaking and not getting paid, because it’s an entire class. A few people can bail, you still get paid. The only real downsides are the lower rate per hour and less flexibility.
Also since you technically don’t have a work visa (it’s weird and complicated but we’re technically there on a scholarship and a student visa), working at all is illegal and you’ll have to be paid under the table. Everyone does it, but I guess it is a risk to be aware of.
All that said, I’d LOVE to get a job at an academy, because a steady paycheck is something I’ve really grown to love in my years spent living like I’m some sort of adult.
I have a few interviews set up for when I first arrive, and I’m REALLY hoping one of them works out, cause I’m gonna need some extra money to afford all the traveling I hope to do.
I already found an apartment by breaking the cardinal rule of international moves–I said yes without seeing the place in person. That said my research was thorough, I spoke to THREE former tenants (who all lived there different years), and spoke to the landlord more than once to make sure she wasn’t a psycho (she isn’t). Mostly I did this because I’m showing up with Brady and finding an apartment that allows pets was looking like a real nightmare. I checked other cities in Spain and they all seem a lot more happy to have animals, but people in Logroño just o not seem into it. My options were crazy limited, I couldn’t find an affordable/pet friendly hostel/hotel/airbnb to crash at while I looked, and this place seemed pretty great, honestly. I would have been super interested even without the pet friendly pressure I was under. It’s right in the center of Casco Antiguo, or the old quarter of the city. It has big, floor to ceiling windows, and is walking distance to pretty much everywhere. Also the landlord was fine with Brady. Sign me up!
I found roommates already too, one was here in LA and just graduated from UCLA. We’ve had coffee and she seems really nice and really clean, which is great. A girl from New England is taking the last bedroom, which is great cause maybe I can get her to care about the Patriots with me!
Having an apartment means that when I arrive in a few weeks, I’ll have a place to go right away. I can get settled in from the start, get to know my neighborhood, and focus on other stressful things, like opening a bank account, getting my foreigner identification card, and figuring out health insurance! Also San Mateo* will start a few days after I get there, so I do think I’ll have a lot of Rioja wine sampling to do.
In the meantime I have a million things to do before I go. Mainly sell my car. Also figure out what I’m doing with all my possessions I’m not planning on taking to Spain. And finish Brady’s pet passport. And change all my addresses and tell all my banks. There’s a lot. That said, I got an international driving permit on Saturday. Now I just have to learn to drive stick…
I’ll post about the progress, and how I got my visa and the steps I’m taking to get Brady his. And in 15 days time, I’ll be writing to you from Logroño.
*I am fairly certain that video takes place on my future street. RIGHT in the middle of everything, which is great because I’m naturally lazy and don’t really go to social events that take much effort. I can probably swing this.