Going on vacation…and 6 years later I’m still here

I had posted on Facebook ‘Hey guys, burn me a cool CD with a mix of your favorite songs, I’m going to Europe for a little while”. This was 2010 when people actually still used CD’s. It’s always a long story kept short as to how one ends up in Barcelona, but the common denominator is that it pulls you in and, no matter how long or short your stay, Barcelona will always hold a place in your heart.

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The mixture of the old in with the modern is enchanting

In my naïve, 24-year-old mind I was going to come, freelance as an English teacher, and make enough money to travel around Europe for 3 months until my tourist visa ran out. I did my research to find the best TEFL school and signed up for TEFL Barcelona because I loved the idea that they mass-emailed your curriculum out after the course to a lot of the English academies in the city. So, I packed up my things and off I went!

My TEFL course was amazing, I had a small class and we all bonded immediately, and I personally paid a lot of attention and took a lot away from the course. It was really nice that we had so many practice teaching hours too because it forced me straight away into the position that I would later find myself in at my first job. When I had to plan and execute my first paid classes, I was obviously nervous, but I felt I was prepared. The one-to-one project, little did I know, would also develop a skill set vital to the success of my future business in Barcelona.

To celebrate graduating (and surviving a month of shenanigans in a foreign country!) six of us girls (3 Americans, a Canadian, a British girl, and a Bermudian) bought a cheap ticket to Rome and TORE the town UP! It was by far, the craziest, funniest weekend of my life! And two days after getting back I got a phone call from an English academy saying that she had received my curriculum from TEFL Barcelona, that the teacher they had hired had found a different job, and they were looking for a teacher from then (September) until the end of June. AND, in a crazy stroke of luck, the school just happened to be two blocks from where I was living. SOLD.

The first year I was only being paid 685 euros a month, but I was just so happy to be living abroad and enjoying the sunshine and year-round good weather. Plus, I felt so good physically after having changed from the American diet to a modest Mediterranean one of garbanzos, bread with olive oil, oranges, flan etc. And since I often walked everywhere, I was in the best shape I had been in since I was 16! I didn’t even really miss the money because I shared an apartment with some nice people and a lot of the things that my friends and I liked to do didn’t cost a lot of money anyway. You can ride bikes, explore the Gothic quarter, there are free movies and concerts all the time, hit the beach, walk around Gracia and window shop, check out the museums when they have their free days, go hiking up to Tibidabo, amazing street festivals…the list is almost endless.

And that is basically how my I got sucked into the charm of it all. The first nine months blew by. Then I stayed to enjoy the sweet, sweet Spanish summertime on the coast. Another school year was upon us and this time around they were offering more money…the more money you have, the list of things to do and see gets even longer…and SIX YEARS later I’m still not tired of it and I can’t seem to ever get to the bottom of the list of all the places I want to visit, and things I want to do and experience. Barcelona is an extremely cosmopolitan city, and if you are open-minded and you put yourself out there, you’ll also find you are never alone and will always have people who want to join up with you to check something out.

What’s more, Barcelona is an international hub and from here, you can travel relatively cheaply to anywhere in the world. Over the last six years, apart from travelling ALL OVER Spain, even doing two legs of the Camino de Santiago, I have also had the pleasure of experiencing Amsterdam, Brussels, Brugge, Hamburg, Berlin, Rome, Paris (x2), southern France, the Canary Islands, South Africa and Egypt with stops in Istambul and Dubai.

Did I mention I also got Advanced Scuba certification and hiked above the cloud line numerous times in the Pyrenees.

So, how do I finance this amazing lifestyle?

I’ve worked with 4 different language schools over the last 6 years and each one has offered learning experiences. The more experience that you have and the more that you continue to develop and educate yourself, the easier it is to move up into higher positions and you have the possibility to transition into managerial positions or teacher training, maybe even start your own language school. But these things take time. A long time. But who’s counting when you are enjoying yourself so much on the side?

I personally have created two English language-based companies based on a specific niche of students I have recognized and feel that I can cater to the best based on my undergraduate education.

In general, there is a lot of work in teaching English. It’s not always an easy job nor is it easy to be away from home. My experience has also been affected largely by the fact that Americans don’t have work permission here. It’s rough too that, depending on the academy that you work with, you may be one hundred percent responsible for developing curriculum for your classes. In other cases, the academy is super helpful and gives you everything you need to succeed. It can be HARD work. However, I wouldn’t be here going on seven years if I didn’t love the lifestyle that teaching English affords you. Plus, the relationships that you build with your students are priceless.

So, are you ready to dive in? I DARE YOU to find one person who says they regret it.

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Goofing around on the Costa Brava with friends. Loving the water and Spanish sunshine.
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The best way around BCN is on foot or by bike. Take it slow, soak it in.

 

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Above the cloud level at 2,909m, Puigmal, Spanish Pyrenees

By Katie Kleinwachter

 

For more information on our TEFL courses please visit teflbarcelona.net

Mi Vida Loca

I am originally from Toronto, Canada and have recently graduated from university in 2014. I was living and working in Toronto at a 9 to 5 desk job wondering how I was going to do this for the next 50 years. I didn’t hate my bank job in Toronto however I knew I wanted to do something different with my life. I quit my job one day in October with zero plans. Two days later I was online researching how a Canadian who only speaks English could move to Europe to live and work. I had never been to Europe before but I had always dreamed of living there. Originally I had thought London because the language was the same but then I decided London was too expensive. Then I thought Paris but again too expensive. Then I thought of Spain- the weather is perfect, I’ve always been interested in Spanish, and I love the beach. I decided Barcelona would be my destination.

Originally I didn’t think of being an English teacher because I had had friends in the past who were English teachers abroad however all of them went to Asia. I had never heard of anyone teaching English in Europe. After a bit of research online I applied for TEFL Barcelona having no idea if I even qualified for it. When I submitted my application I was informed that within 72 hours I would find out if I was accepted or not. Two days later I was hanging out with my brother and his friends at his house when I told them I had applied for an English teaching certification school in Barcelona. They were very supportive and thought it was very brave of me. Twenty minutes after telling them this I checked my email and said ‘Oh my god I’m moving to Barcelona in January’.

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Moving to Europe by myself was extremely scary. I had some friends from Canada living in London, UK however I had never been to Europe in my life much less move there. I was excited but also very sad because I really enjoyed my family and friends in Toronto. I was worried about leaving a perfectly good and safe life behind for what? To randomly go live in a country I knew nothing about and didn’t even speak the language? I did feel a slight bit of relief that at least TEFL Barcelona had arranged an apartment for me for the first month of me being there. I could not imagine having to try to find an apartment in Barcelona while I was living back in Canada- I say this because there are so many scams online for apartments which is something that doesn’t really happen where I’m from.

After flying for what felt like an eternity I finally landed in Barcelona and was ready to see my new home! I had a great experience on arrival because the school offered to pick me up and drive me to my apartment. Another girl from Chicago was arriving around the same time so they would be driving us together. She became my first friend in Europe immediately and I was so happy to have made a friend before I even left the Barcelona airport! We exchanged numbers as she was living in a different apartment, and planned to check out the city the next day together. We had 3 full days before our school was to start on Monday so I was excited to have someone to explore the city with as I had assumed I would be alone for those 3 days.

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I immediately fell in love with Barcelona. As a city in looks so different than anything I have ever seen in North America. There is so much history in the city and such unique architecture unlike the glass boxes I am used to in Toronto. My new friend Kelsey and I did 3 free walking tours of the city; we got to see the Guadi buildings, the Gothic Quarter, and the city centre of Barcelona. We did a hike of Montjuic and saw an amazing view of the city. We got to try some local restaurants with traditional Spanish tapas. We did a day trip outside of Barcelona to Montserrat and saw the breathtaking mountains literally 20 minutes outside of the city centre. Believe it or not we saw all of this in just 3 days.

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The following Monday after my arrival to Spain was the first day of school. I was so excited and I had no idea what to expect. Would school be 8 hours a day, would it be difficult, would I make more friends, would I be expected to know how to teach already? All of my questions were answered on the first day which was great. My class was about 14 people; mostly all Americans. We had me the only Canadian, one girl from the UK, two ladies from the Netherlands and one girl from Italy. This was very cool to me as all my life I had mostly only been exposed to other Canadians and some Americans. The city where I’m from in Canada is very diverse but everyone I know holds a Canadian passport so it was very neat to have friends all over the world now. The girl I met in the airport and the British girl have become 2 of the closest friends I have ever had. Althought we live in different places now we still keep in touch and have travelled together.

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The school was an excellent set up because to be honest, no one wants to be in school for 8 hours a day. Everyday our schedule was just 10am to 1pm. A perfect amount of time to learn English grammar then get to go explore your new city. The grammar was so comprehensive. Never in my life have I learned grammar like this. Such as past perfect, perfect simple, future perfect. I had never heard of these tenses but they drilled them in their heads that by the time the course finished I was an expert. The teachers were all amazing. I have nothing but great things to say about all of them. They really want to see you succeed in teaching and genuinely care about your future as a teacher. I had so many questions all the time and really lacked confidence as a teacher. They throw you right in there with some people teaching their first ever lesson in the first week of school.

The first lesson I ever taught was absolutely terrifying. Now looking back they held my hand through all of it so it’s funny to me how scared I was. They help you create a lesson plan and you teach for 45 minutes. It’s uncomfortable at first and you stress out about timing but in the end I survived and surprised myself with how well I did. As someone who hates public speaking I felt relaxed up in front of the class after the first half of the lesson. The students are adults and they were so friendly and understanding to the fact that all of us had zero teaching experience.

TEFL Barcelona also provides excellent job guidance. There is a guy who works there once a week and is solely dedicated to helping us find jobs. It was amazing he gave us a list of emails of heads of schools who we could contact with our resume. He also gave us a list of websites to apply for English teaching jobs in Barcelona and other parts of Spain for those interested in moving else where. If you do the TEFL course in Barcelona you are by no means forced to stay there and can easily find a job in another city in Spain, another country in Europe, or another continent if you wish. With the help of the job guidance guy at TEFL Barcelona I had actually secured a private tutor teaching job before I had even finished the course. One night I had applied for about 10 positions and the next morning I woke up with an email asking me to come in for an interview. I was hired with one week left of the course which my new employer knew and I would begin teaching immediately after.

Being a private tutor has worked out so well for me and my goals in moving to Europe. Because I had never been to Europe before I had plans to do a lot of travelling. I needed to work to keep some money coming in but my goal was to not work on Fridays so that I could travel on weekends. As a private tutor you basically dictate your own schedule. So not only did I get Fridays off but I also didn’t start work until 5pm on Monday’s which gave me even more flexibility for travelling on weekends. My students ages ranged from 5 years old to 52 years old and all at different levels of course. I really enjoy private tutoring because I have such a deeper connection with my students because of the fact that it is one on one. I was actually really sad when the school year ended because every week I looked forward to seeing my students because some of the older students kind of felt like friends to me. It’s also a great way to get some local advice on anything you want to do or eat in Barcelona because all of my students had lived in Barcelona their entire lives.

Although I am a private tutor I work for a language services company called Exit Language Services, so they sort out any problems I might have which is really nice. If I was having a problem with a student always cancelling, the company I work for would sort it out for me. They set me up with all of my students and they paid me so I never had to awkwardly ask for money at the end of the lesson. The company I work for is amazing and I feel so lucky to have such a supportive boss. They supply me with all of my teaching materials as well which is nice as a new teacher because there are so many books out on the market. I’ve never once missed a payment because of the fact I am not representing myself.

My life since moving to Europe has been absolutely crazy and amazing and I am so happy I did this. I have so many friends in Barcelona and always have someone to call for going for food or going out and experiencing the night life. Since Barcelona is a big city there is a wide variety of cuisines to try here which is great for a foodie like myself. Also if you are wondering about the night life, yes it is insane and it is crazier than what you are imagining. I have had some unforgettable nights here where I didn’t get home until 8am and didn’t even want to go home then because I was having so much fun. There are so many expat groups on Facebook where you can always find events going on. There are lots of language exchanges, festivals, parties, everything happening every weekend in the city. You will never get bored here.

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Also I have done an insane amount of traveling since living here. The awesome thing about Europe is once you’re here, it’s so cheap to get around and see other countries. I have been living in Barcelona for 8 months and I have already been to 13 countries in Europe. I have done things I never would have imagined doing. For example, I hiked a mountain for 9 hours in Bulgaria, I went skiing in the Austrian alps, I got to see the black sand beaches in the Canary Islands, and I ended up on a massive yacht in the Amalfi Coast in Italy. I have so many crazy stories from every place I have been to, everyday I wake up and I can’t believe this is my life. I met my boyfriend here in Barcelona also when I went on an organized group trip to Andorra. I am the happiest I have ever been in my life and I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world.

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Overall I cannot promote the TEFL Barcelona course enough. The teachers are amazing, you meet new people from all over the world, and grow so much as a person. I am living the dream working and living in Barcelona, Spain. I can only describe my life as Mi Vida Loca.

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By Olivia Kelly

For more information on our TEFL courses please visit teflbarcelona.net

 

How to get your empadronamiento in Barcelona

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What is an empadronamiento?

Your empadronamiento (or padron) is a census record which allows the city to keep track of its local inhabitants. You are required to register if you live in the city for more than 6 months (although you can do so before that), and it’s an important part of several other bureaucratic processes, such as

  • Getting an NIE (in some offices; in others you can get your padron afterwards)
  • Getting a health insurance card (allowing you to access free healthcare at the CAP)
  • Getting welfare or other forms of social care and support
  • Getting married
  • Voting
  • Registering children at school
  • Buying a car, or making similarly large purchases
  • Applying for VISAs

Your padron must have been registered within the last 3 months to be valid. It is not a

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one-time document – you will likely have to register several times if you live in Barcelona in the long term. You must also re-register every time you move address, or every 5 years (if you are an EU citizen) Luckily, it’s actually one of the more straightforward government processes in Spain. In theory, to get your padron, you must simply go to your local town hall (ayuntamiento) with proof of your identity and proof of your address.

Where do I get my empadronamiento?

You can either go to the main town hall at Plaza Sant Miquel, 3, or your local office (see below).

Your Neighbourhood Nearest Office
Ciutat Vella Calle Ramelleres, 17
Eixample Calle Aragó, 328
Sants-Montjuïc Calle Creu Coberta, 104
Les Corts Plaza Comas 1
Sarrià-Sant Gervasi Calle Anglí, 31
Gràcia Plaza Vila de Gràcia, 2
Horta-Guinardó Calle Lepant, 387
Nou Barris Plaça Major de Nou Barris, 1
Sant Andreu Calle Segre, 24-32
Sant Martí Plaza Valentí Almirall, 1

You can get an appointment online [https://w30.bcn.cat/APPS/portaltramits/formulari/ptbcitaprevia/T128/init/es/default.html?], or simply turn up at one of the offices and wait your turn. It’s better to arrive early either way. The offices tend to open at around 8:30am and close at 5:30pm, although some may stay open as late as 8pm during parts of the year. It’s probably best to go in the morning or do your own research for the opening times of the specific office you want to visit.

Alternatively, you can apply by post by sending the required documents to the appropriate town hall. Getting your padron will take a few weeks with this method.

Required Documents

To get your padron, you need the following required documents. It’s best to bring 94_Ajuntament_de_Barcelona,_edifici_Novíssim,_pl._Sant_Miquel
photocopies of everything as well.

  • Proof of identity
    Could be your passport or a European ID card. If you have an NIE it’s probably worth bringing that too.
  • Proof of accommodation
    If you are a tenant: a rental contract with your name, signed by the owner. 

    If you are a tenant, but not named on the contact: either (1) a written document from the owner of the flat confirming that you live at the address, with a signed copy of their ID, or (2) an autorización expresa [https://w9.bcn.cat/tramits/padro/Autoritzaciodomicili_cas.pdf] signed by a person already registered at your address, with a signed copy of their ID 

    If you are a homeowner: the original copy of the title deeds

  • Proof of rental payment
    If you are a tenant, you will also need a bank statement with proof that you have paid rent within the last month.
  • The empadronamiento application form
    Not required in some offices – you can either get it from the office and fill it out while you wait in the queue, or you can fill it out online [https://w30.bcn.cat/APPS/portaltramits/formulari/ptbaltapadro/T06a/init/es/portal.html?]

Notes

Congratulations – getting your padron is an important step to become fully registered in Barcelona. Once you have it, it’s best to take it with you for any administrative tasks, although whether it is required varies by region, office, and perhaps even day. Remember, it is usually expected to have been registered within the last 3 months, so try to group your administrative tasks within that time period for maximum convenience.

By Christopher Drifter

 

For more information on our TEFL courses visit teflbarcelona.net

My experience with TEFL in Barcelona

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I wanted to travel, that much I knew. But how could I get paid while traveling? And how could I also add to my resume while seeing the world? Some friends of mine recommended teaching English abroad, and I’m glad they did. The flexibility of the job and the work itself sounded ideal. After doing a little research, Spain also seemed like a perfect destination. The demand for teachers is high and the country itself is a good place to both explore and be based.

After deciding I wanted to teach, I’m glad I went to the expense and effort of taking the TEFL Barcelona course. First of all, it refreshed my rather rusty knowledge of English grammar. They explained grammar in a useful way, a way that I would be able to easily use with my students. And the course also gave me real life teaching experience paired with the critique and encouragement of well-experienced teachers at the same time. It took away (most) of the fear that comes with standing in front of a group of adults who are staring at you, expecting you to teach them something. The course was also very helpful in terms of career guidance. They gave such blunt and helpful information.

Since finishing the course, I’ve had a lot of success teaching. I completed the course in November, which meant waiting a month until the next semester started. (Spain takes a month long Christmas break.) But once everyone was back from holidays, work was not an issue to find. It was harder to find housing than it was to find students. I advertised English classes on tusclasesparticulares, which is where most of my students contacted me. And on days I wasn’t being contacted, I was contacting potential students.

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Being in Barcelona means there are a lot of people wanting to learn English, but it also means there are a lot of people teaching English. For a while it seemed that everyone wanted the same one-hour slot in my week. And if our schedules didn’t line up, they moved on to the next teacher. After a few weeks of setting up classes, coordinating schedules, and getting rid of students who weren’t going to take it seriously, things fell into place and I had a group of consistent students I could count on.

I decided to go the route of teaching private lessons, over teaching in an academy or for a business. I decided that, because I didn’t want to be bound by a contract. I wanted more flexibility and higher pay. With teaching private lessons come some frustrations and it is a lot of coordinating schedules, but there are a lot of people wanting and needing to learn English and when you get a good student, they’re great, most have even become friends.

Most of the difficulties of teaching happened in the first month or so, but then I adapted. I dropped students who consistently canceled or were late without notice. I asked for payment at the end of every class. And I became much, much better at communicating and keeping a schedule.

It hasn’t been all easy. Planning lessons can be draining, commuting can be draining, teaching can be draining, but it is rewarding. Helping someone to be able to communicate, to express what they’re feeling, or to pass an exam is a good feeling. It is exciting to be able to see them improve.

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After the course, I decided to stay in Barcelona. I originally thought I’d leave as soon as the month was over (I’m not a big city person), but I’m glad I stayed. Within the month of the course, I had already made some connections and friends. And as I mentioned, housing was hard to find. My level of Spanish is low and I wanted a short-term lease in a fully furnished apartment. You won’t just find that overnight. It takes time. My advice would be to start looking for housing within the first two weeks of the course.

Also, Barcelona itself is a wonderful city. There is so much going on here. Almost every weekend there are multiple events to choose from. From food truck festivals to concerts to the beach, they are all fun. And I love being able to walk everywhere and along the way stop in to enjoy the cafes and restaurants. And really Barcelona isn’t too big. With the help of friendly people, it becomes homey quickly

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Overall, I am very glad I took the TEFL Barcelona course. By no means was it a waste of my money. I’ve already made more than the cost of the course back. If you’re debating taking the course or not, do it. Within the course you will learn a lot about teaching, English itself, and the best way to go about getting employment. There is plenty of work in this field and it truly is a wonderful experience.

By Jessie Conroy

For more information on our TEFL courses visit teflbarcelona.net

Why I Chose TEFL Barcelona

Moving to Barcelona was a spontaneous decision for me. I quit my jobs and moved away from everyone and everything familiar. While hard at times, it was completely worth it. Barcelona is a vibrant and bustling city with mountains, beach and countryside all within reach. The people are friendly and the whole city is walkable with bakeries, bars and cafes lining every street. The people here are passionate and lively. If there is a holiday, people participate whether that means handing out roses and books on Sant Jordi Day or setting up Christmas markets all around town during December. If there is a Barcelona match, the city erupts with cheers when they score. If you are looking for a city with plenty to do, see and taste, Barcelona is an excellent choice.

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Taking the TEFL course was a great way to ease into a new city and culture. You bond with your classmates and receive a lot of hands on practice in the classroom. The course prepares you by reteaching forgotten grammar, providing useful teaching techniques and exercises, and actually allowing us to teach 1-2 classes per week. If you are wanting to teach or simply live abroad while earning some extra money, this course is well worth it.

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I took the class in November, so finding work in December proved to be a challenge because everyone was on holiday. If you are wanting to travel before filling your schedule with students, December is an ideal month for that. However, once January rolled around, students started pouring in. I found all of my students on Tus Clases. Most of my classes are one on one, and most of them have been fairly consistent. The only reality of teaching on your own and not through an academy is the inconsistency. Life happens and students cancel and you don’t get paid. It can be frustrating at times, but if you bond well with your students, it makes it all worth it.

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Housing is something you should start looking into right when you get here. It can take a few weeks to find a place, so if you are looking ahead of time, you could have a home right when you finish the course rather than living in a hostel.

Barcelona has so many things to do. You can go to a football match. Chill at the beach. Hike or climb at Montserrat. Eat at one of many delicious restaurants. Relax in a cafe. Check out the various food and craft markets that happen monthly. Visit the National Art Gallery or Sagrada Familia. There are so many neighborhoods to explore with trendy shops and bars like Gracia, El Born and Sant Antoni. Soak it all in.

Finally, make sure to travel. There are so many beautiful places in Spain and beyond. Look for the cheapest flight and make it your next destination. Also, take time to learn Spanish (or Catalan, if you are feeling like a challenge). It is so helpful as a teacher to understand what it’s like to be the student learning an unfamiliar language. It is also exciting to be able to communicate with your barista, landlord, or friends in the countries language. Teaching abroad has been an unbelievable and rewarding experience that I will never forget, and the TEFL course made it possible. If you are considering it, DO IT.

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By Hanna Guenther

 

For more information on our TEFL courses visit teflbarcelona.net

Buh-lencia

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So, what is Valencia? Quick facts: Valencia is an orange blossoming, port city on Spain’s southeastern coast. Not only is it Spain’s third largest city it is also a Mediterranean paradise with gorgeous beaches including Port Suplaya.

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Port Suplaya

Other than the beaches, Valencia is also know for its City of Arts and Sciences, with futuristic structures including a planetarium (where ‘Tomorrowland’ was filmed) and the biggest Aquarium in Europe.

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Arts and Science Center

If you’re not keen on the beaches there are many parks, nearby mountains and old castles with historical attractions like Chativa and Albufera Park.

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Chativa / Xativa – 30 minute train ride, 7 euros

Similar to most places in Spain, Valencia has an unforgettable nightlife, no matter how many cups of Sangria you have. One of my favorite drinks is Agua de Valencia, which is similar to what Americans know as PJ or Jungle Juice if you’re from the north.

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Agua De Valencia

On of my favorite clubs is Mya, which is under the Arts and Science Center and has 3 different rooms playing today’s hits / hip-hop, house, and electro/techno. My favorite area is Colon, an older area of the city center with many cafes, bars, and restaurants. The Erasmus life (young people abroad, not necessarily students) in Valencia is very big, with even greater benefits. For example, every Wednesday they offer free Salsa lessons with free sangria, paella, and tapas.

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Paella de Valenica – Seafood

If you’re debating choosing this city over Barcelona or Madrid, I’ll tell you why I chose Valencia. I took the TEFL program in Barcelona and loved it, loved the city, the environment, and attractions. But, for me, Barcelona wasn’t somewhere I’d want to live for more than a few months or so, because of the huge tourist population and expensive prices. Not that you can’t find affordable options on an English teacher budget in Barcelona, but Valencia is extremely affordable and was the best option for my wallet. For example, I only pay 200 euros for rent in a great neighborhood and was able to buy a city bike for transportation costing 30 euros the entire year.

I find Valencia to be more traditional, as siesta time is very prevalent and so is Spanish. I easily got by speaking English everywhere I went in Barcelona which I didn’t like. My Spanish isn’t great, but I continue to improve by speaking with locals. One benefit of living in Madrid or Barcelona over Valencia is the airport. Flights are much cheaper to other countries from the bigger airports and are more frequent.

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Carnival Concert Celebration – right behind my house in Plaza de Benimaclet

Finally, the best for last; FALLAS. Through March 15-19th Valencia celebrates its renowned fire and firework holiday that is incomparable. There are tons of activities and things to do through the day but the following are the main events. Everyday morning street music parades can start as early as 7am, afternoon mascletas (loud fireworks you can literally feel in your body) at 2pm, evening street light shows between 7-9pm, nightly firework shows at 10pm and street discos 12pm-6am. Most importantly, every neighborhood has a ‘monument’ which are massive papier-mâché statues that will burn on the last day called ‘creama.’

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Obviously, my life as an English teacher in Valencia allows me to see and do many things. My first class doesn’t begin until 3pm because I teach at an academy outside of the school system. Generally most students are taught English in their school, but it is very common for them to also attend classes at an academy and/or take private lessons. English academies are very prevalent in Valencia, and it took about a week for my roommate and I to find jobs. I work part time (12 hours) Monday through Friday earning 600 euros and teach 5 different private lessons throughout the week for 10-15 euro an hour. It doesn’t sound like much, but I am definitely able to get by. I do recommend taking an English certification course before teaching because some days can be really challenging and mentally draining. Also, relearning correct English grammar is more difficult and confusing than expected. Teaching English abroad is and isn’t what I expected. My student’s ages ranges from 3 to 42 years old which is nice because everyday classes are different. The younger ages are much more difficult to teach, especially when there are fifteen 3 year olds. But, you learn how to handle it. It’s not common for one teacher to have that many students though, generally my classes have 4-6 students. If you have no interest in teaching children, don’t worry, many businesses hire teachers through academies to teach employees in the mornings or afternoons. If you have the interest in teaching abroad in order to live somewhere amazing, gain cultural experience, learn a new language, and travel… do it. Being away from family and friends can be really hard at times, especially during the holidays, but you’ll make friends who are in the same boat and celebrate together. I feel that I’ve grown a lot during my time here and am so happy I made this choice.

By Emily Beam

 

For more information on our TEFL courses visit http://www.teflbarcelona.net

Time Well Spent

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When it comes to most decisions, I like to be organized and well informed; it allows me to approach the situation feeling safe and confident. When I decided to sign up for a TEFL course and commit myself to a year abroad in Barcelona, there was only so much I could prepare for. I researched a bit about everything –medical insurance, housing, weather and appropriate clothes- and I made sure I had everything from home that I could possibly need. Beyond basic knowledge of where the school was located and who I’d temporarily be living with, there were plenty of unknowns I had to face going into this experience. I didn’t know where I’d end up living, who my classmates would be, or where I’d find a job, but I told myself- I’ll have time for that.

The first month was almost too blissful. I had been staying with a wonderful host, my friends were mostly English speakers, my days were scheduled, and this felt very normal and comfortable. Not to mention, many hot afternoons spent on the beach. As a newly certified teacher from the U.S, the TEFL course was intended to be an extension of my education, another enhancement to my resume. The moment we were introduced the phrase ‘engage, study, activate,’ I knew that this certification was going to offer me a new perspective on language teaching that would revitalize my teaching practice. Even after taking several language-based educational classes for my degree, I found that this course and its instructors were more active in creating a learning environment that promotes language use! I was being challenged in a new way and it truly showed me the success of a lesson that is done entirely in the target language. Take it from me, I was in the country’s number one education program, and I still feel like my teaching really improved as a result of this course. It’s amazing what four weeks can do!

After years of taking classes year round, working a job, or jetting off on adventures, I was suddenly unemployed, graduated, and living on my own. I finally managed to find a room to rent in Raval and was going on a few job interviews per week. I didn’t have any assignments to complete or hours to work, let alone a designated wakeup time. I felt free, and lazy, and anxious. I was so used to having things to do or somewhere to be that the amount of time on my hands was overwhelming. I didn’t know what to do with myself! It began to set in that I could actually take time to rediscover who I am and the creative side of myself I had neglected over the years. I decided that I needed to do MORE. More reading, writing, and engaging with others. More coffee, more lounging at the park, more trips. But most importantly, more of what I wanted to do, and less of what I felt like I needed to do to achieve something. Why couldn’t becoming a better version of myself be my biggest priority right now? I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time.

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It’s been over seven months since I’ve been here and I have four more to go. I laugh when I think back on how I thought a year would be long enough. I’ve been undermined by Barcelona and I already know I’ll regret leaving this place. I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs while living here, but it’s all a part of how my experience is being shaped. I worked as both a teacher and a nanny in the fall, but I am currently just teaching at an art-based English school in Grácia. I teach afterschool programs and private lessons that implement art as a way of engaging students in language. The lesson plans are creative and I plan to use these ideas in my future teaching. I work with mostly four to ten-year-olds, but I have a few adult students as well. I have found different advantages and disadvantages in working with small groups of students versus private lessons, which has been very insightful. I am used to working with a different age group in a definitive classroom, so traveling to different places and teaching in a variety of environments has been a new experience. I’m excited that I’ll be able to bring a unique perspective to the classroom when I return to the U.S. I’ve enjoyed seeing myself develop as an educator and know that I will be a better teacher because of my time here.

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If I’m being honest, I work approximately 9 hours a week. My job is one of the few that pays really well, so that, along with money I’ve loaned from my parents, has allowed me to survive just enough while I’m here. My nanny job allowed me to save enough to travel here and there, so I decided to give myself a break for once and work just enough to keep me afloat. I’ve learned that investing in myself as an individual, beyond a student, a teacher, a daughter, a friend, and a friendly face, is the best thing I could do at age 22. I don’t want to have any regrets. And so, I’ve spent my time doing what I love. I’ve gone on several trips, even indulging in a few weekend travels on my own, which is by far one of the best ways to self-reflect. I’ve read about three books per month, going between travel novels and Barcelona based fiction. I’ve been writing more, and sending letters and postcards to my loved ones back home. I’ve been working out and experimenting with cooking more at home. I’ve been creating an online teaching portfolio and organizing my lessons. I’ve been going to intercambios and doing yoga on the beach with my friends. The life I have right now is simpler and I’m trying to relish in that simplicity while I’m still here.

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Barcelona is intoxicating for me. Some days I am out exploring a new neighborhood I haven’t been to and other days, I’m just as content to lie around all day and spend time with good friends. I feel happier because I’m finally in touch with the part of myself that was drowning in work and school for so many years. Why go back, you ask? Curiosity, I suppose, is the best answer. I deserve to follow through with my first love, teaching Spanish and bringing culture into the classroom. I want to share my experience with students and invoke that same curiosity in them- to see the world for themselves, in order to understand their place in it. I already know how much this year will remain a part of me, but time is slipping away, and I’m trying to use it thoughtfully. My greatest comfort is knowing that my time here hasn’t finished- once you learn the existence of a place that has the capacity to change your life, it feels as though you’ve intuitively been searching for it all along and you can’t help but return time and time again.

By Diana Sanchez

Recommendations:

Book: The Idle Traveller- Dan Kieran & The Shadow of the Wind- Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Street: Carrer d’Astúries for organic stores and bookshops & Carrer d’Blai for tapas

Sundays: chai tea in Ciutadella and fleamarkets in Raval

Good Eats: Pizza Circus $ Milkbar $$ Flax and Kale $$$

 

For more information about our TEFL course in Barcelona please see  http://www.teflbarcelona.net