By Bernadette G., Auxiliar de Conversación in Madrid 21/22
Living and teaching abroad in Madrid has so many more benefits than words can describe. To begin with, you gain experience that many others don’t have and will probably never have. Traveling abroad alone to a country where you may or may not speak the language sufficiently is challenging enough. It certainly helps to learn the language. On top of that, submerging yourself in a culture other than your own definitely pushes you outside of your comfort zone. For many people, this is a perfect excuse not to teach abroad. For those who are daring, we live up to the challenge and we continuously push the boundaries of our comfort zone for the thrill of it and so much more!
Living in Madrid Can Help You Grow Professionally
Professionally speaking, having the experience of teaching abroad looks great on your resume! It’s an ideal way to identify and connect with others, especially whenever you meet others who have also taught abroad or in the same geographic location! You can’t go wrong with networking and establishing relationships while learning new teaching strategies and earning certificates! It sounds like a lot, and it is. As the saying goes, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. And, as my school posted in the hallway, “Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world”, – Nelson Mandela. To sum it up, broadening your horizon and pushing the limits of your comfort zone are an excellent opportunity for growth.
Making Friends While Living in Madrid
Making Friends Through Online Groups
It’s so easy to make friends in Spain! It seems difficult at first but eventually, it gets easier. The most obvious way to make friends in Spain is to get out and about in the local community. As they say, “Go where the locals go”. There are so many options that you’ll need another lifetime to explore them all. For starters, Facebook has a plethora of groups you can join. Some groups within Facebook also have WhatsApp groups. Auxiliares have so many to choose from that it would take up too much space to list here. For me, these lists have been an effective way to organize and attend get-togethers as well as make new friends. In addition to Facebook, there’s also the Meetup application. There, organizers advertise their hosted events.
Additionally, not to sound like an advertisement, but another recommended website for those under the age of 30 is Citylife Madrid. They promote all kinds of events from tours to the surrounding areas to pub crawls. Furthermore, who can forget language and cultural exchanges! Madrid has several that they host as advertised on Facebook and other mediums. These are excellent opportunities to find like-minded people who enjoy the same hobbies and interests as you! Let’s not forget about language schools! Enrolling in a language school is another way to make friends in Spain especially if you take classes face-to-face. From there you can also organize events and teach others a skill you have. Take or give classes in whatever interests you.
Making Friends to Travel Around
If you want to travel Europe on a budget then making friends in Spain is imprescindible. Again, there are so many travel groups on Facebook. You can find hiking trips, language and culture exchanges, walking history tours as well as foodie tours. In addition to Facebook, Instagram and TikTok are excellent applications to find local tour guides to follow.
Sharing Your Hobbies With Your Friends
Finally, one of many ways to make friends in Spain that has worked so well for me is to enroll in a dance school. In this way, you mix with the locals and go out dancing to practice what you’ve learned in school. Madrid has so many events nearly every day of the week that it’s impossible to not make friends!
Things I Had Never Done Until Living in Madrid
Until living in Madrid I had never walked so much nor been without a car! I had never ridden public transportation regularly. In Madrid, for able-bodied people, it’s incredibly easy to get around. Between the metro, Cercanías, buses, and taxis, you can get to wherever you need to go. No need to budget for gas, car insurance, car maintenance, nor car payments!
Until living in Madrid, I had never drunk hot coffee from a drinking glass. In the U.S., it’s customary to drink it from a porcelain coffee cup.
Until living in Madrid, I had never used a pencil without an eraser attached to the end of it. I’m amazed how none of my students have pencils with erasers. Instead, they have to rely on a separate eraser better known as ‘rubber’. It amazes me because I would never buy a pencil without an eraser attached. After all, it defeats the purpose of using a pencil in the first place.
Until living in Madrid, I had never taken a course in Spanish geography. Now that I’m an Auxiliar, I get to participate in my third-grade class as we discuss the topographies of the different types of maps in English, of course. Before being thrown out of the class, one student made it clear to the rest of the students that the Iberian Peninsula was in the shape of a “culito de una abeja” -that translates to “the small butt of a bee”-! Wow! I had never considered that! Now this image is forever burned into my mind and I’ll never forget it!
In Spain, there’s never a dull moment! I love it here!