The truth is, being an Auxiliar in Spain was a strategic decision for me. Globetrotting while teaching myself what it is to be a digital nomad was rapidly depleting my savings. My wanderlust, however, was only increasing as was my desire to be an ex-pat/living abroad. Whilst jet setting, ads for the Spanish Auxiliar program floated into my social media pop-ups and I was thoroughly intrigued.
The program presented as perfect for my individual situation: part-time hours, temporary residency abroad, and steady (non-freelance-based) income. This would allow me to work and live comfortably in a foreign country while building my freelance business. Now is the moment when I impress upon you that teaching was not, is not my chosen profession. I am TEFL certified, however, and had experience teaching/facilitating from my time serving in the US Peace Corps. Those that find purpose in teaching should consider alternate programs such as BEDA. The latter, however, requiring more working hours per week and a deposit upwards of 800 Euros to participate.
And while neither program is exactly free, the Auxiliar program does not require one to come out of pocket if selected. You are, however, responsible for the fees associated with applying for your visa as well as your relocation. Outside of the information provided to you about the chosen school and a Coordinator contact, you’re on your own.
You’re on your own
The visa process was a bit of a bear, is individual from State to State, and took some moderate planning. There are plenty of other blogs out in the ether to help assist you with this part of things. I will give you a heads up, though, to get started on all of it as soon as possible. Each process is multifaceted and requires time to correspond overseas so don’t dilly dally.
Finding accommodations can be as simple as making a FB post in the assorted private group communities. Auxiliars from around the globe converge there seeking roommates and helpful info about their assignments. It also serves as a great place to make friends in the region of placement. Beware of agents lurking on the pages, however, who will often aggressively reach out to you with offers.
I don’t condone working with agents, per se, but be prepared to come up with twice the amount of cash you’d planned if that is the case. It is expected to pay the equivalent of two month’s rent as a deposit, as well as agent fees. That fee is typically the same cost as the rent. As a result, it is highly recommended to approach the start (and the end, more on that later) of the program with a decent amount of savings and an abundance of patience.
The waiting game
Patience has never been my forte and flexibility has become a learned skill over the last half-decade – give or take. The Auxiliar program in Spain absolutely requires both things. As the awareness of the Auxiliar program grows, the waiting time for placements has increased. In the past, renewing Auxiliars would get confirmation of placement in late May. In recent years, the time frame for placements has been pushed back as far as early August.
This is problematic primarily in the Summer months for renewing Auxiliars. Traveling outside of the country without government-approved documentation makes returning with the same visa an issue. It’s these bureaucratic steps that can trip up even the best of us at times. So step carefully and put in time doing the research/networking necessary for the region of placement.
Patience is even more virtuous once the program begins and the Auxiliars step into the classroom in October. Even experienced Auxiliars have to hang back in observation mode when beginning a new academic school year. As aforementioned, Auxiliar experiences in Spain are individual and truly vary from region to region, and school to school.
In the classroom
Every teacher runs their classroom differently. Further, every teacher seems to have a different understanding of how best to utilize their Auxiliar. With no formal training on the program itself, some of the bilingual campuses struggle. It’s important that Auxiliars approach these situations carefully. Cultural misunderstandings happen and can disrupt the entire process of building rapport leaving the Auxiliar the odd (wo)man out. Those seeking separation between work and home life should set healthy boundaries early being careful not to accidentally offend.
Keep in mind that at the close of the 8- month contract, an evaluation of your contribution and professionalism will be given. Flying remarks warrant a renewal to the program, the opposite obviously creating a possible hang-up. This is where the patience I mentioned earlier also flourishes. There has been a genuine learning curve for each campus I have been assigned over the last two years. And I fully anticipate more of the same with my newest school assignment in an entirely different region of the country.
Still, the Auxiliar program has granted me the backdrop to living my best life abroad. I will continue with this program as long as it remains fulfilling. As I said, strategy; after enough consecutive years, I will be eligible to apply for a permanent residency. This residency would allow me to live anywhere in the EU. As a remote worker avoiding the expenses of living in my home country is my aim. Like-minded serial ex-pats may see the beauty in this strategic approach to living abroad. But regardless if you’re seeking to stay abroad, these unspoken details about being an Auxiliar in Spain are advantageous.
Have you considered being a Spanish Auxiliar?