How I Live Legally in Barcelona as an American

Meddeas placement Barcelona

Meddeas. /mə.ˈðeɪ.əs/ Acronym: Multilingual Education Development and Support. My golden ticket to residency in Barcelona. 

I’m not married to a European. I wasn’t hired by a multinational corporation in the States. Spain’s main English teaching program, the one I did last year in Bilbao, doesn’t offer placements in Catalonia, and hence, Barcelona. So how am I here legally?

In a word (well, acronym): Meddeas. 

About Meddeas

Meddeas is not an English academy or an English Language teaching program. Rather, it is a private contracting company that sets up teachers with schools.

I was hired to teach English 20 hours a week through Meddeas. It’s a similar deal to the Spanish Ministry of Education’s NALCA program—I’m an auxiliar de conversación, or English language assistant. This means I’m not the primary teacher in the classroom, but rather there to help out as a native speaker, mostly with conversation.

Meddeas works with private institutions all throughout Spain. (For the purpose of this post, I’m only focusing on Barcelona. However, the majority of Meddeas placements are in Madrid, and they do offer positions throughout the whole country.) This is in contrast to the government program, which only places auxiliars in public schools. Meddeas works anywhere from daycares up to high schools.

There are three levels of the Meddeas grant program, depending on how much you really want to be a teacher in the future, and how much experience you have teaching already. You’d be part of the Advanced, Graduate, or Speakers program (see chart below). The program you do determines your wage, hours, and workload. I am doing the “Graduate” program, meant for people who don’t really see themselves as teachers long-term.

Meddeas also offers an option between living with a host family or living on your own. Obviously this is a personal choice—I believe placements are divided pretty evenly between the two, so it’s not like choosing one over the other gives you a better chance at getting hired. If you live with a host family, you’re given room and board, so your wages are lower. If it were my first year in Spain, I may have opted to live with a host family in the interest of language and culture immersion. As it’s my third year, I needed more freedom, so I found my own shared flat.

As part of the deal with Meddeas, you are required to participate in an online TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course. This is included (read: free) with your job, but means you also must do the extra work. If you don’t complete the course, you can’t renew for a second year. The TEFL course is certainly beneficial in the fact that it explains effective teaching methods (something the government program doesn’t give a damn about helping you with). However, if you don’t plan on teaching ESL in the future, it’s extra time and effort spent in something you won’t use later on.

This chart can explain things much more comprehensively: 

Meddeas chart

The Meddeas Application Process

Step 1.

Contact Meddeas saying you are interested in the auxiliar position. They will send you a questionaire to fill out, and ask for your CV. The questionaire is simple: your basic information; what size city you prefer not to live in; what age you prefer to teach; if you prefer to work in a secular or Catholic school. (Note: answer to this last question does not affect your chances of being placed.)

Step 2.

If this goes well, Meddeas will contact you to set up a Skype interview. My interview lasted about 20-30 minutes and didn’t strike me as difficult. The weirdest question I remember was, “Tell us a bit about your elementary school experience.” I was all, “If I remember correctly, at age 5 I made some friends and at age 8 I learned some cursive. Classes were chill. No complaints.” How that makes me a desirable candidate in today’s market, I have yet to understand.

Step 3.

If you sufficiently wooed them over Skype, the next step is a mandatory in-person interview. Here is where many of you will hit a roadblock. Meddeas REQUIRES that you’re there in person, but they only hold interviews in a very small number of places. This year, the representatives are as follows:

Spain: Madrid, Barcelona and Pamplona

UK: Cardiff, London, Manchester, Birmingham

Ireland: Dublin

USA: Boston, Dallas, Chicago, Washington (state), Los Angeles

So basically, if I were back home near San Francisco instead of in Bilbao last year, doing Meddeas probably wouldn’t have been feasible. It’s not likely I would have driven 8 hours to Los Angeles for an interview. Luckily for me, Pamplona was just a 2-hour bus-ride from Bilbao. (And at the time, I thought that seemed ridiculous!)

Step 4.

Hear back from them, yay or nay. If it’s yay, they’ll inform you about the complete information of the location, age range of your students, and school’s characteristics and expectations before you accept. If you reject the assigned school—say, you’re not happy with the location or age group—they may try to find you another placement, but it’s not guaranteed.

Step 5.

Start your visa paperwork if you’re American; kick back with your feet up if you’re British or Irish.

Timeline for Meddeas Hiring Process

Applications are on a rolling basis. There is no set deadline, but obviously the sooner, the better (before spots fill). Applications are usually available in January. I submitted my app on February 12, had the Skype interview on February 28, and the in-person interview in Pamplona on March 28. On April 9 I received an email saying they “ideally wanted to hire me,” but at the moment didn’t have a position that fit all my needs. (I had a lot of needs—see below.) They emailed me again on May 14 saying that a position had become available at a daycare in the center of Barcelona, and I accepted.

So here’s the secret to how I’m in Barcelona. . . .

When I went to Pamplona for an interview, I had almost convinced myself I wanted to stay in Bilbao with the government program for another year. I didn’t love my time in Bilbao, but the thought of starting over from scratch yet again seemed daunting, and I was sure Bilbao would grow on me. In fact, I almost cancelled my in-person interview in Pamplona, because I figured, why waste the money on a bus ticket?

The point is, I went in to the interview with zero nerves, because I thought I didn’t care about the outcome. So I was cool, calm, and collected. And of course, like all things in life, you mess up when you’re nervous, and hit home runs when you care the least.

The interview lasted double the time because the directer of the program and I hit it off, chatting and joking aimlessly for an hour and a half. Plus, since I had a year’s worth of experience as a language assistant already, I could answer questions without too much bull-shitting. By the end of the interview, I had completely changed my blasé attitude towards the job—I WANTED TO BE HIRED. I NEEDED TO MOVE TO BARCELONA. So, first piece of advice to being placed where you want: Nail the interview. (This may be obvious. But it’s important.)

Pamplona Meddeas headquarters

Main plaza in Pamplona, where I had my Meddeas interview

In the interview, he asked if I had a preference of location. I decided right there that I would tell the absolute truth. I told him, very politely but in no uncertain terms, that I really wanted Barcelona and would realistically only accept the position if it were in Barcelona. If not, I was happy with Bilbao and would just stay put with the government program. I told him I had lived in Granada and Bilbao already, had traveled extensively throughout Spain, and wasn’t saying I wanted Barcelona because it’s the typical place to party, hang with other Americans, speak English, or catch cheap flights to other places.

I told him the truth: For my third year in Spain—now that I had already experienced much of Spanish (and Basque) culture and knew the language—I craved an international city. I told him I was also a writer, and a cosmopolitan environment with more opportunities—besides teaching, I even admitted—really appealed to me. In addition, with my linguistic background, I was interested in learning Catalan (which I’ve now started classes for). I said that realistically, for my future plans, it was probably Bilbao, Barcelona, or back home.

Second piece of advice: Be honest. If you will truly reject a placement if it’s in the middle of no where, better to speak up beforehand. If you will ONLY accept a placement in a certain place, say that too. Keep in mind, it’s like giving them an ultimatum, and it may not work out the way you want. As always, it’s much better to be flexible with placements than to say, “This or nothing.” There is so much to be said for experiencing and being open to off-the-beaten-track places in Spain. (For example, fellow auxiliar Trevor Huxham lived in the “undesirable” province of Jaen and loved it.) In my case, I simply didn’t want to waste their time, knowing that I would either stay in Bilbao or move back to California unless Barcelona came into the mix.

Two weeks later, I received a message from Meddeas saying that they wanted to hire me, but in that moment, there wasn’t a position available that fit all my criteria (in the middle of Barcelona; not too Catholic; not living with a host-family; Graduate program; monthly bonus of rainbows and puppies.) I hadn’t exactly given them much to work with.

I gave up hope and resigned myself once again to renewing in Bilbao. I tried to convince myself I was totally happy there. I even visited Barcelona that April and was less than impressed, mostly because the insane amount of tourists.

Then Meddeas wrote back saying a position opened up. Only thing was, it had a weird split schedule (I work 9–12 and then 5:30–6:30 every day) and it was at a daycare. WITH BABIES. Did I want it?

Meddeas daycare

I said yes.

Keep in mind. Meddeas DOES NOT EQUAL Barcelona.

The thing is, I got lucky. I also did a good interview, and had a strong resumé (since I had already been an English Assistant for one year, and had studied Linguistics in college). There are very few spots in Barcelona—in fact, at my orientation kick-off meeting I met only two other girls placed in or around the city. I believe the director told me there were about ten spots total in Barcelona. The fact that my school is in the CENTER of Barcelona, and a 10 minute walk from my flat in El Raval, is even luckier still.

But a handful of spots in Barcelona is a handful more than the government program offers. Meddeas is a great option for those trying to make their (legal) way to the Catalonian capital. 

(To go to Meddeas’ website, click here.)

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll make sure to reply! For more updates about Meddeas, teaching English and Barcelona throughout the year, get future posts delivered right to your inbox. And make sure to follow A Thing For Wor(l)ds on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

  • Kaitlin Anne

    Hey Jenny! I am headed to my second in-person interview! They did not provide a lot of information regarding the information. Do you have any suggestions?

  • Baris

    Hi Jenny,

    I just read about your writing, ‘ Cost of Living in Barcelona’ and it helps me in many ways, thank you for that. I have some further questions, can I learn your e-mail so that ı can communicate you via there ?

    Best Regards,

    Barış Özcan

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  • Katie

    I’m planning on applying to the Meddeas program; seeing as it’s my first time I’m thinking staying with a host family would be most beneficial. So I’m wondering how that was for you your first time in the program? And why did you opt to not stay with a host family the next time?
    Also what would be your number one tips when it comes to the interviews?

  • Kara Spilker

    Great blog post! My question to you is about the visa. Did you use a student visa or did the company sponsor your work permit?

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  • Alex

    Hey! Thanks for the helpful info. I, like you, will be switching from the ministry to meddeas for the upcoming year. I was dead set on being in Madrid and it worked out decently! My question for you was whether or not you had any say in terms of your work schedule or if your school handed you one and that was that. My placement has an after school sports club and some of the sports practices apparently run all the way until 11pm at night…I’m terrified they’ll ask me to help out which would really take away any chance of personal freedom during the week. Should I also assume that with the higher number of hours, Meddeas has us working 5 days a week versus the ministry 4? And do you remember when the provide you with a work schedule?

    • Hey Alex, my school handed me a schedule and I didn’t get a say in it. I think they gave it to me a few weeks before starting? (maybe?) It was five days a week, three hours in the mornings and one in the afternoon (total hassle). Yes, I think you should expect to work five days instead of 4, but you may get lucky. However, I highly doubt they would make you stay till 11pm…that seems really unreasonable. If they do, I bet you could speak to Meddeas and have that changed.

  • shae

    Hi Jenny!
    Thanks for the informative post. I’m currently in the interview process, do you happen to know if they offer placement in Sevilla?

    thank you!

  • Emily Kim

    Hi Jenny!

    The post is fantastic, thank you so much :) I just applied for the September start date (late to the game, I know). And I received an email within a day of submitting my cv and TEFL certification that said “my info had been forwarded to HR” and I’d be “notified if they had a suitable position.” I have a ministry position so I’m not 1000% banking on this although I think it would be fantastic to be in a more stable system. But do you think that I got just an automated response and they’ve already filled the spots? Would they have mentioned a skype interview? Or is that later?

    I know I applied late and chances are slim, but just wanted to have an idea of likelihood and the notification process (at all stages) so I’m not twiddling my thumbs for nothing. Thank you!

    • Hi Emily,
      I’m sure it’s an automated response, as most things are – but that doesn’t mean they won’t get back to you! It’s only early April, and I didn’t find out about my placement till late April when I applied with them. They’d mention a Skype interview once they review your app and want to move forward. Honestly I think it could go either way at this point, but maybe send them a follow-up email in two weeks if you haven’t heard anything!

      • Emily Kim

        Thank you, Jenny!

    • Angie Urena

      Hey Emily, is it just a cv that you have to submit for the first part of the application process or did you also answer a questionnaire? I’m about to send them my cv and was wondering if I was to submit something else

      • Emily Kim

        Hey Angie!

        On the website there’s a section for language assistants where there’s a link to “apply now.” I think you fill in some contact information and they you a questionnaire to fill out and return. If you have any questions, let me know!

  • Tori

    Hi Jenny! This article was super helpful. I just got accepted into Meddeas and am waiting for my placement!! I was wondering if you had to pay a security deposit last year. They’re requiring what seems like a steep deposit (400 euros) within 3 days of finding/accepting my placement and I’m nervous about it!

    • Hi Tori, sorry for the late response, and you’ve probably either paid by now or decided not to. But just for peace of mind, yes, they did require it last year. I don’t think it was quite as steep, maybe around 250 euros, but nonetheless there was a deposit. Meddeas is really reliable, so I wouldn’t worry about not getting it back or anything – it’s just annoying to have to put up that much up front :(

  • Sam

    Jenny! I love you — this article has proven to be the most informative one that I’ve read regarding this program (Meddeas)

    I, myself, am currently in the second round (in-person) interview process for this program, which I will drive to the Bay Area for on the 26th of this month. I share the same sentiment as you in regards to wanting badly to get placed in Barcelona. I am usually very good during interviews and I have no doubt about my abilities there, however I don’t yet have language assistant experience abroad such as you did when you made your bid for Barcelona. What, if any, advice could you offer me when i get them face to face?

    Thank you,
    Sam

    • Sam! Sorry I’ve been the absolute worst about my blog and comments lately, I’m vowing to get better. How did the interview go? I’m sure if you’re very good at them normally, you nailed this one. Good luck!

      • Sam

        Yes it went very well! I am just awaiting placement at this point, which they said they would let me know by the beginning of April. I’ve been selected as a finalist so I think this is just for location/school. I told them Barca as first choice, then Granada and Valencia respectively. Are you still in Barca?!

        • Tom

          Did you get your placement? :) I’ve also specified Barcelona in my face-to-face interview, which went really well although I haven’t heard back yet as it’s only been 2 days.

  • Sam Smith

    Hey Jenny, I applied for both Meddeas and BEDA and have had Skype interviews for both. My face to face interview with Meddeas is on Monday and I have to drive 6 hours to Chicago so I really don’t want to mess it up. Would you be willing to tell me more specifics about the second round interview questions? I have no teaching experience so some questions I may be unprepared for. Thanks I’d really appreciate it!

    • Carpe

      Hey Sam,

      My Skype interview is on Thursday, and I’m wondering if you remember any of the questions they asked you? I’m a bit nervous and want to be prepared. How did your in person interview go? Good luck!

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  • Jamie

    Hey, I’ve read this post probably dozens of times before actually applying to Meddeas – it’s really informative and helpful! Thanks for breaking it all down for us. I actually have a skype interview with them in two days and was wondering if you could give me a good idea of how that went down for you exactly. They told me to read over their FAQ and know about the specific program I want to join. Any help is appreciated! Thanks :)

    • Hey Jamie, glad you’ve found it so helpful. I hope this is getting to you in time! The skype interview was pretty straightforward, just asking you about yourself, any experience teaching, which program you’d prefer, any specific preferences you have, and maybe some situational questions (“if you were in the classroom and this happened…”). The skype interview doesn’t go too in-depth from what I remember. that would come later at an in-person interview. Good luck!

      • Jamie

        Hey Jenny, the skype interview went exactly like that! Thanks for the advice. It’s been a week and a half now and I’ve just sent off a follow-up email so that they haven’t forgotten about me! I was wondering if you followed up in any way, how long it took for them to get back to you after your first interview, and how soon after the first interview you got a second one. Thanks for all the help!

      • Jamie

        Hey Jenny, how long did you say it took for them to set up your second interview after your skype interview? They’ve gotten back to me and said that I received good feedback from my second interview and that I’ve been selected for the second stage of the interview process, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I have a second interview yet. Because I’m applying for a January start date, the vacancies are much lower… and they said that a representative would reach out to me about a second interview once they know about the vacancies and if I have a suitable profile for those schools. It’s been three weeks since they’ve sent that email and I’m just worried that there’s not much out there.
        Also, how different was the in-person interview from the skype interview? Do they go more in depth about methodology and have more situation-based questions about what to do in the classrooms? I’m really nervous for this interview!
        Any advice is appreciated!

        • It took them probably two weeks to get back about a second email. I’d just send them a follow-up email checking in. And the in-person interview was relatively straightforward and similar to the Skype, but yes, they go a bit more in-depth and also ask you questions to see how you can react on the spot a bit. Don’t worry, it’s nothing too crazy!

  • Carlos

    Hi Jenny,
    Again, thank you for your blog it proved very helpful in my decision making process between Maddeas and the Ministry’s program. I will be a language assistant this September in Malaga and was wondering what the steps were to renew your Visa/contract? Do I have to come back to the states or can everything be done abroad?
    Any help is appreciated!!

    Best,

    -Carlos

  • Christine Harrill

    Hi Jenny I have a question for you. Do you think its possible to be in this program and apply for a masters program in Barcelona and do them at the same time. If by the grace of god you get placed within the city? Will Meddeas be okay with this? Thanks

    • Hey Christine, it potentially could be possible since you only work 20 hours a week, but I’d certainly email Meddeas to make sure. Good luck!

  • Daniella Calthorpe

    Hi Jenny

    Thanks for all the informative information. I have a second interview with Meddeas on Monday and was wondering if you could maybe tell me how the second interviewed differed to the first?

    My first interview was 40 minutes long and cannot imagine what more they would still want to ask me.

    Thanks!
    Daniella

    • Hi Daniella,
      So sorry I’m just seeing this, your interview’s over by now I think but I hope it went well! If I remember correctly the interviews were pretty similar re: the questions they asked. Was that still the case?

      • Daniella Calthorpe

        Hi Jenny
        No problem! The interview went well, it was very similar to the first, just less questions and the activity was different. I had to speak about a random word for 3 mins! So, I had the interview on Monday and now it is Wednesday. Do you know how long it takes for them to reply with a yes or no? I want this so bad!

        Thanks
        Daniella.

        • Ya I had to do that word thing too–I completely botched it haha. I think they got back to me about 2 weeks later.

  • Charissa Stewart-Zubelzu

    Hi Jenny. This blog is amazing and so much more informative than the site. Earlier this month I saw the position advertised on teflonline and I applied. They said I would be given a response in a month, so a few questions:
    Is there a nationality requirement (I’m Jamaican)
    How soon after applying does one usually get contacted
    Do you get a confirmation email when you send in your cv? I sent it to the email address but haven’t gotten a confirmation letter.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Charissa, I’m so glad the blog has been helpful!!
      Unfortunately I think that they’ve already filled almost all their positions, and those that aren’t filled will come from the waitlist (I believe candidates have already been informed if they’re on the waitlist). Also, unfortunately I think there is a nationality requirement. I wouldn’t hesitate to send Meddeas a follow-up email, however, asking about the status of your application. Good luck!!

  • Elizabeth Spiegel

    Hi Jenny!

    I received an email from Meddeas on April 11th saying that they did not have any more placements that fit my requirements (I don´t have too many — I want independent accomodation and I have a preference of Valencia, Murcia, or Alicante). I told them I would like to teach with their program, but independent accomodation was key. They said “You are going to be placed in a short listing and your profile will be the first taken into account for suitable placements in the following weeks.” What do you think of my chances of hearing back about placement are? I know the visa process more or less, and that I will need a background check and medical certificate, so I was going to get those started the first week in May (I have an offer from CIEE Teach Abroad and I also applied through the Ministry but my inscrita number is quite high) for whichever placement I accept. Any help would be awesome! Thank you!

    • Hey Elizabeth, I’ve heard from a number of people that they’ve only been offered hosting positions. I guess Meddeas had a hard time filling those positions this year, since most people understandably want to live independently. I’d honestly say you’re chances are better for the Ministry, even with a high inscrita number–lots of people end up turning those positions down over the summer and getting placed late. I turned mine down last year in May, for example, and so did several of my friends. Good luck!

      • Elizabeth Spiegel

        Hey Jenny! Just wanted to let you know I was offered a position by Meddeas last week and accepted it!

  • Rosa

    Hi Jenny! I just applied today, I didn’t know about this program until recently. I’m still in college, so I can only do the speakers option. Do you think I might still have a chance or is it too late?

    • Hi Rosa, I’m not really sure but I’d bet that since they’ve already started out emailing placements, chances are pretty slim. You can always try for next year and that way might be eligible for the graduate program!

  • Kel

    Jenny,

    Thanks for the blog tips! I just did my in person interview last week with Meddeas! I was wondering if you knew in other situations where applicants haven’t specified an exact city they want to live in, if they find out right away where they will be placed? Or do they not find out for a while?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Kel, I actually don’t really know, I don’t think many people figure out right away but I’m not sure. I had to wait over a month to hear back if I remember correctly, although I wasn’t really lenient on where I was placed. If you’re more open to anywhere it could be faster but I’m sure they still take a few weeks. Good luck!

  • Su

    Hi Jenny,

    I’m pretty worried about my upcoming Skype interview. Do you have any suggestions as to how to prep for it?

    • Hey Su, the interview is pretty laid back. They just want to get to know you a bit, see why you’re interested in teaching, and hear your preferences for age group, location, host family vs. living alone, etc. I don’t think much prep is required–just try to be really outgoing and coherent in the interview so they could see you being a lively and competent teacher for the position! Good luck!

  • Carlos

    Thanks you for so much info on the program and a breakdown of the process, it really has reassured me. I just finished my second interview two days ago, and really (and honestly) my only preference was to be placed in a big city (500,000-3M-3M and up). Any guesses on my chances? I applied feb 3 and finished my second interview feb 23.

    Thank you :)

    • Hi Carlos!! I honestly don’t have any guesses, I think it got a lot more competitive this year the more people find out about the program. But Meddeas is pretty accommodating, so if they liked you and want to hire you they will almost certainly find you a spot in a big city!

      • Carlos

        Thanks for the response Jenny! I just got an acceptance email telling me they will send me placement details in April!
        Thanks for all the insight!

        • Kel

          Carlos, did you get your placement yet? I was told that I would receive my placement if I accepted a position living with a host. I have no other preferences so I told them I would rather wait it out and see. It doesn’t seem very worthwhile to be a 25 year old living with a family, and a curfew. They said I will be shortlisted for spots that will open up as an independent accommodation. Fingers Crossed!

          • Carlos

            I just Got in today actually! it seems the later you applied the more likely they offer you a host spot. But being shortlisted is not a bad thing! Good luck!

          • Elizabeth Spiegel

            I finished my interview mid-Feb and they offered me a host-spot. Waiting to hear of an opening.

          • Elizabeth Spiegel

            I am in the same position! (See my post above).

  • Marie G

    Hi Jenny! Thanks for your informative post. I recently got an email from meddeas saying that they weren’t sure if they could find a school that meets my preferences but that they’d contact me “with placement details as soon as we have a school that offers a position that meets as many of your preferences as possible.”

    I’m not sure if this means there’s a chance I won’t get placed anywhere or if it just means they’re still just trying to meet most of my preferences (Catholic as long as I don’t have to teach religion, 12-16 age group, population > 100,000, independent living…). Do you know of anyone who received a similar message and did not get placed?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Marie,
      I received that exact same message! Then I didn’t hear from them for about a month and had given up hope, but then they emailed me back with a placement in Barcelona. I do certainly think it means there’s a chance they won’t find a placement for you (if I’m being honest), but also I think Meddeas tries really hard to make adequate placements meeting all your needs, and will do their best to find something. Good news is, it’s only February, so you’ve still go lots of time. I didn’t hear until late April. Good luck!

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  • Taryn Curry

    Great article. I completed my Skype interview back in November and I didn’t think I was going to hear back from them but they just emailed me for a second interview. I live in NJ so I have to take a trip to DC which sucks because I have to take a day off of work for it. I’m really interested in TEFL (I am certified and currently teach at a daycare), the only thing that concerns me is money. The Skype interviewer was really pushing for me to stay with a host family which I might do. I’m just nervous about money. I have student loans to pay so I’m really looking for a job where I can pay those off and save money.Anyone else in my situation.

    • I was able to save a bit as an auxiliar last year (though definitely not this year in Barcelona), but I’d say in general between travel and enjoying living it up in Spain, it’s rather hard to save large chunks of money to pay off loans. Check out the main auxiliars facebook group for more threads on the student loans topic though, there are people who can help you more than I can on that: https://www.facebook.com/groups/590661094346622/

  • Andrea Furneaux

    Hi, I had my skype interview yesterday and have my in-person interview this Saturday. I was just wondering what sort of questions they ask you? Is it fairly similar questions to the skype interview?
    Thanks!
    Andrea

    • Hey Andrea,
      I don’t remember specific questions, but it was very much like the Skype interview, I believe. They’re also interested to hear your preferences: location, type of school, homestay or not, that sort of thing. I remember we spent a lot of time in mine weighing the pros and cons of a homestay (it felt like I was grabbing a coffee with the director and talking about an upcoming move to Spain, ha!). Try to be relaxed while still professional, and you’ll do great!
      Good luck!

  • Dan

    Hey Jenny, I’ve just applied for a job through Meddeas and I’ve found your articles to be very informative, so thank you very much :) I have a question though and it’s more to do with the cost of living in Barcelona… Does your wage from Meddeas really stretch that far? I was just wondering how much things like rent and utilities bills would be really? If you had any advice or info that you wouldn’t mind sharing that would be fantastic! :)

    • hey Dan, I’ll actually be coming out (relatively) soon with a cost of living breakdown for Barcelona, but for now suffice it to say that it’s enough, but tight. I live in the center and pay 350 E with bills included (but that’s a pretty good deal, I’d say). I hardly spend any money at all on transportation because I can walk to work and use the bike share program. Basically I think you’d have enough to live and be relatively social, but it would be hard to save or travel much just on the Meddeas salary alone. I’m doing freelance writing to earn more, and a lot of people do private lessons on the side. Hope that helps!

      • Dan

        Aw thats cool, thanks for replying so quickly, it was very helpful! Just another follow on question haha, sorry. Is it quite easy to find private work then? I really like the look of the job and love the idea of moving to Barcelona/ or wherever in Spain, i just don’t want to be so strapped for cash that it takes all the enjoyment out of living there, if you get what i mean.

        • There’s a lot of demand for private lessons but also a TON of English speaking expats too, so a lot of supply and you may have to offer lower rates to compete (average is probably 15 euros/hour, whereas I charged 20 no problem in Bilbao). But basically, I think you’ll be able to live fine and enjoy the experience; cost of living is much lower here than in the US or UK. And if you’re placed elsewhere in Spain (besides Madrid), 850 is DEFINITELy enough.

  • Scott Panek

    Hi Jenny- I’m wondering, is this 850/month pre or post tax? Also, do you know if Meddeas places in Castilla y León, like Valladolid or Salamanca? Thanks!

    • Hey Scott, that’s pre tax, but the tax is very little, something like 10 euros a month (and that gets you access to the health care system in Spain!). And yes, I believe they do place there!

  • Edgar Pizarro

    Hi Jenny,

    Thank you for your informative post! It definitely helped me understand who Meddeas was a bit more thoroughly prior to my Skype interview. To sum things up, my Skype interview went well — 45 minutes! And she seemed rather impressed and informed me that instead of going through the committee process to see if I was going to the next step, she would just notify me right there and then that I would get an in-person interview within the next weeks to come (given the approaching holidays). Lucky for me, I live in Boston and the representative is also located here — so not a big hassle.

    One question I do have, and am hoping you can provide me with further details than they did: In terms of the required insurance in order to obtain the visa, how does one go about doing that? I understand that you were able to renew within Spain given your previous participation with the NACLA program. However the representative I had my interview with said that Meddeas does not provide insurance coverage for individuals and if it is a requirement for the visa, I would have to obtain coverage from the U.S. and pay out of my pocket. (She approximated it to be around 300 dollars for the year).

    Was this something you had to provide upon renewing your visa and switching programs? The first time I went to Spain I was participating through my university’s study abroad program, and had health insurance through my school, so the process was easy and it was all taken care of for us.

    Do you have any information, or knowledge from other participants in the program who applied to Meddeas directly from the U.S.?

    I greatly appreciate your help!

    • Hey Edgar,
      Congratulations that your skype interview went so well!
      To answer your question, yes you’ll need to purchase insurance basically for the sole purpose of getting a visa. Once you’re actually in Spain, a tiny portion of your pay goes to social security so you actually qualify for Spain’s national healthcare. But for the visa, you need to show proof of insurance beforehand, so Meddeas will send you links for health care packages they recommend (and yes, it’s about $300.) I had to do this too, even though I renewed in Spain.
      The health care you’ll buy is really crappy and confusing and I just had a hell of a time trying to use it and get reimbursed last month, but it does get you the visa. After a few months in Barcelona I decided to switch over to the Spanish system, which was really easy, and now going to the doctor is a piece of cake, and so so so very free :) I actually ended up contacting the private insurer and cancelling my insurance, meaning i got reimbursed for $200 of the $277 i paid (and would have got more if I cancelled it sooner!). Meddeas in no way recommended I do that, nor do they endorse it—just to make that clear—but basically, once you show proof of insurance for your visa (a print-out form you’ll take with you to the appointment), that’s all you need. You can cancel it as I did later and still have your money, your visa, and Spanish health care. It’s a loophole that you can choose whether or not to take advantage of :)

      • Elizabeth Spiegel

        How did you switch over to the Spanish healthcare system — I´m surprised it was easy! Sorry for all the questions!

        • Meddeas supplies you with a social security number since you technically contribute a bit of your income to social security every month (5 euros or so…). You go to some goverment office in Barcelona showing you’re ’empadronado,’ (registered as a resident here) and turn in your NIE and your Social number, and they provide you with a card for the health care.

          • Elizabeth Spiegel

            Thanks Jenny! Currently I am on my parents health care plan — can I get a letter from their insurance company and then apply/sign up for the Spanish health care system once I´m there?

          • Hey Elizabeth–I’m afraid I don’t have solid answers for either question. Last year I was on my parents’ health insurance but still opted to sign up for insurance through a third party that would definitely cover me in Spain. I think I did that because it would be easier to get help more quickly over here, but also it might have something to do with the visa. I would email Meddeas about it. As for the second question, it’s true that you need to be referred with the public system, which is sort of a hassle, especially considering the wait times for appointments have gotten longer here with budget cuts. It very well may be faster through private insurance, so that’s something to keep in mind. Again, I’d shoot Meddeas an email, now that you’ve been hired by them!

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  • Very cool! I didn’t even know about this program. Maybe I’ll look into it for next year!

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  • Aaron Snyder

    Hi Jenny,
    I was hoping you could give some more insight as to the visa process for you? I wasn’t clear if you were an american or some european lol. I know something I have ran into being an american, is that the process can’t done abroad in spain. If you could shed some light on your situation maybe it could better help me. Thank you!

    • Hi Aaron,
      The title of the post didn’t give away my nationality? hahah ;) So unfortunately, the visa was a total gray area. I was able to renew in Spain, but pretty much turning in paperwork as though I were renewing with the Ministry program that I had been doing last year. Some people say you can renew visas in Spain as long as you’re doing the same type of program—i.e. auxiliar, doesn’t matter with what company—and other people say you have to return stateside to do the visa if you switch programs at all. The thing about Spain is the bureaucratic rules are ALWAYS changing, which is why even the workers in the foreigner’s office sometimes give you conflicting information. Basically, I got lucky being able to renew in Spain, but I’m not sure it would always work out like that. Sorry I can’t give more definite information!!

  • Great post! I’m always looking for more ways to stay legally in Spain as an unmarried American! ;-) Do you know what other regions Meddeas works with? Galicia, for example? I can’t wait to hear more about the program.

    • Thanks, Alisa! Meddeas works all throughout Spain, so they should have some spots in Galicia. I believe there are openings in every region :)

  • Chelsea

    This is a great article, Thanks for all the information! My boyfriend and I participated in the ministry program this past yr in Galicia and just recently came back to California. We’re now looking back to head back to Spain but maybe through a different program this time. Do you know if the meddeas program allows you to be placed in the same city as your significant other if you are both applying together?

    • Hey Chelsea, I actually am not sure. But I’ve found Meddeas to be very helpful and accommodating, and they really do try to take into account your preferences. I’d just shoot them an email and ask your question—they generally respond quickly!

  • Great information Jenny! I actually considered teaching in Spain before but I was not aware of any other program than the government sponsored one. Thanks for sharing!

  • Cassandra

    Interesting! I’ve never heard much about the Meddeas program before. They sound quite organized (you will understand why I sound surprised). Do you think you’ll do a compare/contrast of your different English-teaching programs in a future post?

    • Yes, certainly more organized than the Ministry, haha. And yes! In the next month or so I’ll have a post out talking about whether you should choose Meddeas or the Ministry (well, what to think about, and the pros and cons of each, at least.)

      • I ‘ll be very interested in reading that post! I’m graduating in the spring (with a degree in Linguistics like you!) and I am frantically trying to figure out what I want to do. A post like that would be really helpful!

  • Wow—amazing breakdown and even more amazing story of how you managed to score a teaching position in the city center of BCN! The pay isn’t high enough to tempt me to switch from the Ministry (12 hrs a week/700€ a month vs. 20 hrs a week/850€ a month) so I hope you’ve found some private classes to give you spending money! :E

    • Ya, the pay is the biggest downside. And I miss those 12-hour, 4-day work weeks!! But for me, I was willing to take a pay cut to be in a city I really wanted. Actually I only have one private lesson this year (but 25/hour, wooo!!) but that’s because I don’t really enjoy doing them. I wanted more time to be able to focus on other things—exploring the city, meeting people, and growing my blog and freelance writing. I’ll just be traveling less this year since I won’t have quite as much extra money, but that’s a fine decision for me, because I really want to get to know this amazing city anyway!

  • Kim

    I can imagine this is really useful for non-Europeans wanting to live in Europe. Great post!

  • Really informative – more so than their website!

    • Thanks Cat—ya, their website doesn’t really tell much at all! You have to email them requesting more information, which I think is kind of a deterrent.

  • Manny

    Can you just renew your NIE/TIE without returning to the states for a visa with this program?

    • Hmmm, this is such a grey area and I’m afraid I don’t really have an answer. I started my renewal process in late May and was able to do it in Spain, but I’m pretty sure it looked like I was renewing through the Ministry program instead of switching programs. I brought in paperwork from my school in Bilbao (where I was with the Ministry), showed proof of funds by highlighting the Ministry’s deposits in my bank account, and showed proof of health insurance by buying coverage (Meddeas doesn’t include it.) I also had a letter from my school in Bilbao saying I completed the year successfully. Basically I pieced together all the components without ever showing my letter of acceptance from Meddeas, so I think the foreigner’s office thought I was renewing with the Ministry. I’m still confused, and don’t know if I got lucky or if that was actually an acceptable way to do things. I have heard, however, that if it’s clear you’re switching programs, they make you go back to the States for a whole new visa. Wish I had a clearer answer, sorry!!

  • Shaheen Samavati

    Hola! Do they offer placements in Andalucia by any chance? I’m asking for a friend, who might be interested in doing a third year as an auxiliary in Malaga – and, as you know, the government project limits you to two years in the same region.

    • Yes they do! I would recommend that your friend tries to renew for the government program as well as apply for Meddeas. You never know with the government—I’ve heard cases of people getting three consecutive years in the same region.

      • I know of one guy who’s in his third or fourth year in Galicia, and before that he was in La Rioja!