By John and Carla Z. Auxiliares de Conversación in Murcia 2019/2020
So Wait… Why Are We Doing This?
We’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, and we’ll tell you how we ended up in a town called San Javier. We are an Australian couple who recently got married in January 2019. Considering that the first year of marriage isn’t hard enough, we decided to add some extra strain and become a Language Assistant. Prior to our little siesta from life, we both held corporate jobs in Sydney.
The most common question we heard when explaining our plan, was ‘Why?’, fiercely powerful and at sometimes made you question exactly that: ‘Why are we doing this?’. So we decided to dedicate a post to try and explain it.
Cliché wedding picture in Sydney – Check!
When did We Decide We Were Moving Overseas and Become Language Assistants?
We always knew that overseas was an option. John had always had it in his mind that he wanted to spend some time abroad. Together, we had not really defined what this meant. We started talking about making this all happen on our honeymoon. In hindsight… John probably could have waited seven days before proposing another life-changing event.
The face you make when your husband proposes moving overseas on your honeymoon
Originally the plan was to try and find corporate work overseas. The more we looked into it, the more we realised that it would be pretty difficult to find something better than what we had in Sydney. After speaking to a manager, he suggested teaching English abroad. In the end, we saw two options for us. We could:
- teach English, allowing us to earn some money and extend our travel time overseas.
- only travel, taking as many months off as our savings would allow and just travel until we couldn’t anymore.
We spoke about these options and eventually decided we wanted to teach. It would give us the chance to immerse ourselves in a culture and, taking on teaching as a new challenge for us to try. The thought of teaching English made us nervous, but we liked the idea of having a direct impact on someone’s life. However, it was still unknown, but the idea of being able to capitalise on the travel convinced us.
Having been here for two months, we can’t even understand how this is a question. You would have to drag us out of this country. The story of how we chose Spain was that, when we decided we wanted to teach, it was a matter of finding options. We had some basic requirements:
- be based in a travel hub
- find a good working schedule
- try and learn a language
Originally, we heard great things about Korea and Vietnam and we even interviewed with some companies there, however, we decided against Asia. It is so well connected to Australia that it felt like something we could always do. Also, the companies didn’t really sell us on the opportunities there.
Next, we asked each other, which language was most desirable to learn. Both Arabic and Spanish stood as strong options, simply due to their global coverage. However, after a bit more research into teaching English in Arabic speaking countries, we decided against it. These jobs had great salaries and perks, although they were not the ‘relaxing and navel-gazing’ opportunities we were after. We were left with two options: Latin America or Spain.
We eventually came across the ConversaSpain program, which placed English speakers in schools throughout Spain, with choice of either Madrid or Murcia. It had a fixed stipend and fixed hours per week, as we learnt all of this, our decision was made. It ticked all our boxes for us.
How could you say no to this?
Why the ConversaSpain Program?
This was a question we debated over many nights. There are a lot of opportunities to teach in Spain. You can go about doing it yourself, or reach out to one of the variety of programs offered in Spain. After a lot of research, we decided on ConversaSpain. There seemed to be a lot of positive feedback on the program and the two areas (Madrid and Murcia) resonated with us. They were both areas we could see ourselves living.
On top of this, we were applying as a couple. The last thing we wanted to happen was that we would be placed far apart, which was a possibility. While speaking with ConversaSpain, we felt a little bit more comfortable with having them help us with our placements. For example, they let us know we would have a better chance of being placed near one another if we selected Murcia.
In the end, they were right, with our schools being a 5-minute walk from one another. A bit of a caveat here, at no stage, did the program say they would be able to guarantee our placement next to one another. Another reason we decided to go with the ConversaSpain program was that we were both teaching full-time programs and settling into a new apartment in Sydney during the times of the application. For us, ConversaSpain was our personal guide to help us navigate the bureaucracy that is notorious with governments, visas, and Spain.
So, all in all, we saw it as us paying for a level of service. Yes, it was something we could have done ourselves, although we value the offering from ConversaSpain and saw it worth our money. Ultimately individuals should assess their situations and choose the best option for them based on this. For us, ConversaSpain was the best option. We have no regrets about having chosen this program.
I wish my school had art like this
So does Going Through the Program Mean You Will Have No Administrative Pains at All?
No. Just no. Expect them, take a big breath and know that you have a team supporting you. This was the hardest thing for us to do, and I am sure others experience the same pain. The nice thing is ConversaSpain will literally email you telling you exactly what you need or what files you have missed. Nice little safety net to have!
Once you get to Spain though, you will quickly forget about all this. You will be immersed in the culture, and hopefully, like us, realise it was all worth it.