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Adrian in Spain

Here is the story of why I am here.

Truth is I have no idea why I am here. I’m just here. It was calling me. Like a wave calls a surfer. I just got on a plane and landed in Madrid. Well it’s a little more complicated than that.

I was working 9 to 5 for about 6 months at a publicity company in Fort Lauderdale. My first “real job” at a company after graduating.

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Needless to say I was getting bored. Also I didn’t like all the driving you have to do in that state. So I got on a jet blue back to NYC, which is where I am from originally. But then, realizing that NYC is probably the most competitive city in the world to find work, I decided to look around again. My cousin was going to visit her sister in Salamanca who has been studying for about 5 months now. I’ve been getting pics of her trips all year in my inbox and jealously watching what appeared to be the time of her life. So with no work, no wife and no job, I said why not? ... – Swissair - $230 dollars and I landed in Barajas.

To my surprise I actually had family in Madrid. Not family, but a Peruvian woman who was my Nanny since I was 6 months old had a brother who lived in Alcorcon. And that’s where I stayed my first month ...

My original plan was to get work doing wedding videos, which is what I was doing in NYC before I left. And I actually got a job in Villalba editing wedding videos. Well I did that for a month part-time getting paid 4 euros an hour. I wasn’t happy. Living in Villalba and getting paid peanuts is not my idea of adventure. So I quit that job and started looking around.

I met Steve Starry at one of his cafe meetings. But before I met him I had no idea about teaching English. I applied to a couple of schools but nothing came thru. I had this idea in my head that I needed a TEFL and that I needed experience and that the competition was tough with all the British teachers here. But, Steve changed that revealing the reality of the situation here. There is a huge demand for teachers. Huge!

With this new fact in my head I went into interviews more confidently. I fibbed a little on my resume about teaching video editing and in NYC, and teaching theatre at a camp to kids. Both of which I could have done. But TEFL need not matter. I got work. And a lot of work. I had to turn stuff down because frankly, I like sleeping.

OPEN and Companyclass were my big employers. I did about 15 to 20 hours a week. Average 14€ an hour and more importantly I was building up my teaching resume. Now, teaching is not that hard. Yet it’s not that easy. It can be whatever you want it to be. I noticed a lot teachers had really bad attitudes about their classes and students. I couldn’t understand why. I was really having a great time. Where else could you get paid 14€ an hour to talk to people in your native tongue?

I’m surprised more people don’t do it in the US. Every May there are millions of college students who barely know how to tie their shoes graduating in the states trying to find work. Little do they know that hours away you get 14€ an hour to talk to people. Makes college seem kind of futile.

But I cannot say it’s been all easy. I’m still learning how to be a good teacher and knowing how to work with the material and create a fun enigmatic class. People learn better when their having fun. Simple as that. When you have a one hour class everyday. After the 7th day you find you’re running out of material and your student is giving you that look, “what now muther f@cker!?”

So it’s a learning process. And if I had a TEFL or CELTA, I’d probably be better off. But supply and demand put me at the top of food chain so I’m not so worried.

Work in the summer slows down. Right now I have NO classes. I find myself writing essays on the internet to stay afloat. But I can’t say I have been looking too hard because there is another factor to life in Spain.


That’s not March. That means party ... and man you can honestly party your @ss off in this city. New York and Miami have competition with Madrid. This city sleeps. But during the day. At night it’s non stop bar hopping, salsa swinging, speed flirting. No matter what day of the week. H@ll, I use my Saturdays to rest now. The best days are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Thursdays being my favourite. No matter what your mood, you’ll find something do. For someone my age and demeanour, this has become a part-time job in itself.

Then, you have the Festivals and Carnivals, which are state sponsored irresponsibility. First was the Carnival in Cadiz which was beautiful. Next year I’ll bring a costume. And of course there is the world famous running of the bulls or San Fermines to the locals. 7 days of pure mayhem. I was able to stay for two in fear of losing my life. Yes, I ran. Twice! The first time there were too many Girris. So I ran ahead and got into the ring with the Calf. The Calf ain’t no baby though. That sucker knocked me right in the chest with its nubbed horn. Ouch!

The Second Time I was feeling more balsy, so I met the bulls half way. The whistle blows and then everyone stops. Silence. Waiting. And then slowly you hear the hooves and the screams getting louder and louder. And then ... Oh sh@t... They’re here. People running for their lives pushing everyone out of the way. I stood to the side hoping one of those 500 kg bulls didn’t slip and turn me into thumbtack. Once the danger passed I ran with everyone else into the ring with my head high proud for having evaded the bulls once again ...

Besides the Festivals and insanity, Spain does have some beautiful cities and landscapes. I’m particularly fond of Galicia. The south is nice as well with all the history and diversity. I think what really sells Spain are the people. Now I guess I have an advantage having grown up Bilingual in a Colombian Family; I can get along great with the Spanish. But even to the other Girris I find them to be just as nice. Very welcoming, unpretentious, and sexy ... the women, of course. But seriously, I came with a lot of misconceptions after having studied in Rome for a year; I expected them to be similar to Italians. Nothing against Italians but I just never got very friendly with them. But the Spanish love the sweet life just as much and maybe even more so. Maybe it’s because they never had a huge Roman Empire or artistic rennescance or the pope sitting right next door. Other than colonizing the Americas, their history seems a little more modest and so are they. Then again, I must admit speaking the language is a huge advantage to understand any culture. Just have a couple more Cańas and it will start flowing.

But I can’t say it’s been all good times. I’m looking for a new place to live in August. I’ve been living with an Argentinean couple since April. First couple of months ... no big deal. Just a few talks about bringing guests over. But then my male flat mate kept asking me for money. The light bill came and they need to pay it ... or if I brought a guest over, “they will have to pay the night.” Any excuse he could think of ... Turns out he’s a (CENSORED => use your imagination - Steve). (CENSORED) I think. The TV and VCR got pawned and almost every night it was fighting between them "Che Boludo!!" which means asshole in Argentine. But he seems to be off it now, however I’m still locking up my iBook.

So next month I have to find a new place and new work. But I’m not too worried because tonight I’m cooking pasta with a Spanish girl I met at Palacio Gaviria. Stay tuned ...

Hasta Luego


PS: And if you see me at a club by Sol, feel free to say hi and buy me a drink

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Bray's English

Bray's English has a list of lessons they're looking to fill Tuesdays 20:00 to 21:00, Thursday 20: to 21:30 or Saturday 11:30 to 13:00 near Goya, Madrid. Mondays-Wednesdays 17:05 to 18:00 and Tuesdays-Thursdays 17:05 to 18:00 in Getafe.

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