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The Experience is Waiting for You

Everyone has a story at to why they came to Madrid. It is very intriguing to hear about everyone’s story. Normally underlying reasons are that people needed a change in their present lives because of boredom or just chasing an adventure of some type. For me, it was a combination of the two. I worked for Accenture in the United States for five years.
By Trent Brock (Dec. 20, 2005)

 

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Expanding language school is looking for full-time and part-time teachers.

 
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William Christison
William Christison

Teaches English classes in companies and in his own private home.

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Accenture is a global information technology and management consulting firm that specializes in providing information technology based business solution to improve a business. What does all that mumbo jumbo mean? Let me give the real answer to you … companies pay Accenture to cut cost or increase profits.

After five years, I decided that it was time to try something different for a while. I was bored with doing the same type work and definitely needed a change. I have a Life Goal List that I review every year around New Year’s. Usually a few new goals get added and usually a few goals get crossed off. The particular three that are related to Madrid are below. They have all been on the Life Goal List for at least two years.



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1. Teaching English – I have always wanted to teach, but I did not want to go through all the red tape needed in the United States just to decide if I really like teaching. Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) is a great option. After a month long intensive course, a person is qualified to teach.

2. Learning Spanish – Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States. In college, I asked my father what he would study if he was me. The quote burned into my psyche is, “If I had a choice of what to study, it would be computers or Spanish.” I did the computer gig for five years so decided that I would follow up on the Spanish now. My hope is that I will have the option to one day go back to the United States and get a job using Spanish.

3. Traveling Europe – I could have chosen a location like Costa Rica or Guatemala, but I have always wanted see what is like to live in a European country and to travel through Europe. Since Spain is the only part of Europe that I could teach English and learn Spanish, the choice was easy.

Now that is narrowed down to a Spain, how did I choose Madrid? I was initially thinking Barcelona since it is the closest major city to the rest of Europe that I knew of. After researching, Barcelonans speak Catalonia in addition to Spanish. That is all I need…two languages that I do not know! Through my research I found a school with an impressive website – Canterbury English. The school was located in Madrid. It was perfect for me for several reasons: association with the Garcia Lorca Spanish School, one month intensive TEFL program, guaranteed employment after completing the class, library with internet and copy machine, and the Canterbury Social Club. After sending a few emails to the director of studies, I was convinced that Canterbury was it for me.

I applied and was amazingly accepted the next day for the Spanish course starting October 24th and the TEFL class starting the following month. I had three weeks to pack what I was not selling in Dallas where I lived, take some personal belongings to my parents’ home in Arkansas, take my car to brother in North Carolina, get traveler’s checks, book a plane ticket, book a hostel, and try to find a permanent place to live.




Everything was done! I was on the plane and ready for my grand adventure. I did not sleep much on the flight over – maybe 1 hour or so. I felt myself getting a little bit of a sore throat which is normal for me when I do not get any sleep. When I arrived to the Barajas Airport, one of my bags was lost. Welcome to Madrid with open arms! I had to fill out the paperwork with an employee from Iberia Airlines who did not speak much English. I realized that this could be quite a difficult experience until I learned enough Spanish to somewhat communicate. Through my first weekend, my sore throat evolved into that Madrid cold that is so tough to get rid of. I absolutely felt like someone had beaten me with a sledgehammer. My sleeping schedule was really off from the jetlag. My walking shoes were in my lost bag so I was wearing my dress shoes. After wearing my dress shoes for a couple of days, my feet began to hurt. They hurt on and off for the next 2 weeks. That is not good because all you do is walk in Madrid. I had to limit my walking. My legs and my butt also hurt because I was not used to all the walking. I was not eating either because I was so intimidated to go into a restaurant and ask for food since I did not know any Spanish. I did not know numbers, names of food, anything. And this will for sure happen; you will definitely step in dog poop. Dogs have nowhere to go but on the sidewalk. If you are not looking for it, you have really good chances to step right in it.

So now are you feeling sorry for me yet, or are you thinking that I am wimp? I told you all this for two reasons: some of these things are going to happen to you, and you are not the only person that will go through the adjustment to a new country.

I am a very optimistic person so let me leave you on a positive note. I knew that there would be an adjustment to arriving in Spain, but I had my mind made up that I was not leaving until I was dead or knew Spanish and taught enough English to decide if I wanted to pursue it as a career. Most importantly, I kept a positive attitude through the whole saga.

My bag with my walking shoes and other clothes did finally arrive! My hostel Cat’s Hostel was awesome! They were recommended on www.hostelworld.com as the best hostel in Madrid - internet, clean, decent location, bar inside, and more than helpful staff. My legs have gotten very used to walking everywhere. It is definitely keeping me in good shape. I got over the jetlag in about a week. After two weeks and fourteen packages of Halls cough drops, I kicked the cold. I know enough Spanish now to get what I need, order food, and do most simple things. I have gotten to meet some extremely cool people in my Spanish and TEFL classes. We will meet out for drinks or a social activity. Canterbury has a great welcoming committee for people new to Madrid. I have not stepped in dog poop since the first time. I think that I have developed a sixth sense. I can not step in if I tried now. (Next week I will probably regret saying that!)

The following tips should be helpful for newbies to Madrid.

I chose the academy that I was going to attend by their website. If you cannot go and see the location itself, the website and email correspondence is the best measure. Pretty simple – if they take pride in their website, they take pride in their school.

I suggest arriving at least, at least, one week before starting classes to just get acclimated to the new environment, get over jetlag, learn your way around the city, and find a permanent place to live.

Get a cell phone immediately. The Gran Via area has a few cell phone stores where they speak English if needed.

Use an apartment locator service to assist you in finding a flat especially if you do not know Spanish very well. It is well worth the normal 50 euros that they charge.

If searching for an apartment/flat without a locator service, it is different in Spain. Hundred of apartments turn over every day. The internet and email are not the most efficient way to research. The Segundamano is the best source which is the daily newspaper. Use your cell phone to call. Have your security deposit and first months rent when you go to see a place. Money talks.

If you need to buy something, Spaniards normally do not care if you can speak Spanish or not because they are going to make some money out of the deal. If you get turned down, go down the street. The same type store is very close.

It takes longer to do things than estimated. In general, Spaniards have a very relaxed attitude and do not get into a hurry over much. Additionally, Spaniards really do take siesta, and it can prevent a person from getting things done at times.

Have an open mind. Your lifestyle is going to change. For example, the ratio of bars to Madrilenos is one bar for every 143 people in Madrid. Going out for tapas is part of the culture. It is not uncommon for people to be out until 8 am the following morning. Forty percent of Madrilenos smoke, and it is permitted in almost most public places.

Attitude is the key. Everything can be an adventure if you make it one. It all depends on how you want to receive it. So pack your bags and come to Madrid. The experience is waiting for you!

Part 2: The Wrap Up!

In this article, I plan to tell you what I did over the year since the article that I wrote a few months ago, some experiences that I have had, and some advice to newcomers from a one year veteran of Madrid!

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The Green Monkey Schools and BBS are seeking English teachers for 2017-2018 teaching season Corporate classes are in-company, usually in Madrid but also in the suburbs. Classes to children, adults and teenagers are in our schools located in and around Madrid as well as Barcelona.

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