Think You Want to be an Auxiliar? Part III

A very merry auxiliar Christmas party.

A very merry auxiliar Christmas party.

I’ve been traveling through Europe for the past 2.5 weeks, which is why it’s been quiet on the blog, but before I post about my latest adventures I’d like to finish off the series with this third and final entry:

Part III: What to Think About Before Renewing

This applies to current auxiliars who think they might want to stay another year in Spain. At the moment I’m on the fence, so here are some questions I’ve been giving a lot of thought to lately. Unlike my previous two posts, I don’t have many answers to these—they’re more rhetorical, as I’m still grappling with my own responses. This entry could be more aptly titled “Jenny’s Thought Process Through Her Crippling Indecision.” Let’s start with the basics….

1) Does the thought of teaching English for another year. . . a) repulse you b) thrill you c) you actually consider this job teaching? It’s more like showing up and chatting with kids.

If you answered A, maybe this program is just not for you, as much as you’d like to live the dream in Europe. I’m somewhere around C . . . although I don’t think I want to be a teacher forever, this job is so painless that it’s sort of a secondary part of my existence here. I neither love it nor dread it, and therefore it doesn’t factor hugely into my decision, even though it is the primary reason I’m in Spain. However, I do find it a bit tough to generate lesson plans that will entertain 16-year-olds with a minimal English level…they hardly know basic body parts, but would get bored playing Simon Says all day long. Can I come up with enough fresh ideas for another year?

2) Can I handle another year away from close friends, family, and American-sized lattes?

3) If I went home in June, would I spend all of one day cherishing my mom’s baking, and then instantly regret the chance to live and work in Europe for another year? After all, opportunities like this don’t come around all that often.

4) Am I really ready to start a 9—5? Or, more realistically, an 8—6? It’d be difficult—stupid, really—to so easily let go of this 12-hour Auxiliar workweek, plus health benefits and ridiculous vacation time.

5) Would a second year (or third year, counting study abroad) in Spain be monotonous, or would there be an “over-the-hump” moment where I suddenly feel like this is home sweet home, and cured ham becomes my favorite food?

6) Am I idealizing a place merely because I’m not there? I often think I would love living and working in San Francisco or New York. But I conveniently forget about sky-high rent prices (if you even manage to find an apartment at all), grueling work hours, poor public transportation (at least compared to Europe), extremely competitive corporate environments, and expensive cost of living. Oh right, and weather: as I’m writing this, New York is experiencing record arctic temperatures.

7) Is it time to start working in a field I actually want to pursue? Like I said, I don’t think I want to be a teacher forever. I envision myself doing something with writing, publishing, or public relations. Of course, every publishing job I look at requires about 60 years of prior experience, so if I’ll realistically achieve my dream around the time I’ll be checking into a nursing home, another year in Spain shouldn’t slow things down too much.

8) Even if I decide to renew, many of the friends I’ve made here–fellow American and British auxiliars, as well as European study-abroad students–will be returning home. Will I feel too lonely without them, or will I be able to make new friends again quickly?

So after your own personalized version of this mental rollercoaster, you’ve decided that renewal is in the cards. Good for you!! But the decisions don’t end there….

9) Do you like the school you’re at, or would you like to switch? Maybe you were placed at a high school but are dying to teach little kids. Maybe your school is out in the boonies, and it’s time to try your luck at being placed in Sevilla capital. In my case, I would love to work somewhere with more motivated students, where the level of English is substantially higher. (This isn’t a pipe dream! My colleagues have told me that my school has an especially low level, mostly due to the socioeconomic situation of the neighborhood.) On the other hand, my school is close to the city center, the class sizes are small, the staff treats me well, the director is incredibly kind and understanding, and my students are nice and respect me. Can’t have everything, right?

10) Do you want to stay in the same region of Spain? I’ve gone back and forth over whether I want to remain in Basque Country or try a new place, namely Madrid, but in the end I think that if I decide to stay another year, I want to get to know this unique region more. Plus, beginnings are always the hardest—making friends, finding housing, familiarizing yourself with the city–and I’m not too eager to start all over again. So if I do stay in Spain, I’ll be getting to know Bilbao on a deeper level!

Renewals and first-year applications open at midnight tonight. Luckily for me, renewals have priority, so I have until February to mull these questions over while still being (almost) guaranteed my spot. New Year’s Resolution: be less indecisive. Good luck everyone!