I received a new school placement today through BEDA and I couldn’t be more excited about it!!!
When BEDA accepted me back in April, I was assigned to a school in the center of Alcalá de Henares, a small city about 30-45 minutes outside of Madrid. It’s the second largest city, with a population of 200,000, in the Autonomous Community of Madrid, next to the capital city itself. It’s the birthplace of the famous Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote.
I was a little disappointed when I first received this placement, because it was a little further from Madrid’s city center than I expected, and at the time I had my heart set on living in Madrid. After a ton of research and asking many other language assistants currently teaching in Alcalá, I discovered that living in Madrid was still possible. I would have to live by the Atocha train station (the main train station in Madrid), and take the commuter train to Alcalá every day. However, I started to become stressed thinking about the long commute (it could potentially take over an hour, and that’s without the frequent strikes in Madrid) as well as the expense to commute (it would be about 80 or 90 Euros a month). So at the beginning of May I emailed my program director and asked if there was any chance there were any openings at a different school closer to the Madrid center that I could switch to. I knew it was a long shot, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. Of course her answer was what I expected. She said there weren’t any other openings but if commute time and price were my concerns, my best bet was to live in Alcalá.
I took her advice and looked more into living in Alcalá. The more asking around and research I did, the more excited and accepting of living in Alcalá I became! It turns out the rent and cost of living in general is SO much cheaper than Madrid. I looked at that as a major positive because I could put all of that money into travelling and other expenses such as my phone, shopping, eating out, etc. Also, Alcalá has the same tradition as Granada where you get a free tapa every time you order a drink! That’s another huge money saver. Since it’s a smaller city, it would also give me more opportunities to practice my Spanish, which is definitely something I need to do. It looks like a beautiful city with everything you could possibly need. It’s close to nature but is still very well-connected to Madrid so I could go there on weekends or whenever else I would want to. And I was very fortunate to be given a school that is in such a prime location in Alcalá. It’s down the street from the main square—Plaza de Cervantes—so I could live in the main part of town and walk to my school which could be 5 minutes down the road! That means sleeping in and being able to go home for lunch during my breaks! The more I thought about it, the more psyched I became about being placed in Alcalá. Also, all of the assistants who have lived there before said they loved it.
But now everything has changed. Thursday morning I woke up to an email from my program director saying that a spot opened up at a school in Madrid for the same number of hours that I was assigned to before and she asked if I would like to switch. I thought it was so nice that she thought of me because I had emailed her a month ago! This is a reminder of why I’m so happy I chose to go through BEDA! I’m glad I didn’t answer right away because impulsively I was going to turn it down because I was so happy about my placement in Alcalá at this point. But I waited a day, and then I emailed her back asking where exactly the school is. She gave me the address and I researched the school and area all day Friday. This school is gorgeous and it’s in an incredible location, right in the heart of the Salamanca neighborhood of Madrid!! Salamanca is the ritzy part of Madrid, so it’s in a really nice area. I think the school covers all ages and it looks amazing.
I had a big decision to make! I spent the last month getting pumped up for Alcalá and this offer came out of nowhere! Alcalá would allow me to save money and practice my Spanish much more. I knew I would love living in Alcalá, which is why it felt weird considering turning it down even though living in Madrid is what I originally wanted. But taking the placement to live in Madrid would essentially allow me to live the dream. The school is in the heart of Madrid, how can I pass that up?! Madrid is so full of life, culture, and excitement. In both the Ministry program and BEDA, a ton of people are getting placed in the suburbs of Madrid, and everyone would kill to be placed in the city. I could potentially walk or take a quick metro ride to my school. It’s absolutely perfect. Although I won’t save nearly as much money as I would if I were to live in Alcalá, I think it’ll be worth it in the end. And Alcalá is a quick train ride away so I can always explore it whenever I want, especially when I want some free tapas! As for the practicing Spanish part of it, I think living with a Spanish roommate will be the best option, because otherwise I would just be speaking English all the time since my job will be to teach English.
I hope I’m making the right choice. My program director emailed me back today saying I’m officially switched over to the new school so there’s no turning back! I feel so incredibly lucky. Living in Madrid is what I had my heart set on doing from the very beginning and now it’s actually going to happen—I’m so thrilled!!!
Oh, and also, I booked my flight!! I’ll be leaving on September 2nd and will arrive in Madrid on the 3rd!