3rd September: Toledo Livin’

Well, I’ve made it! After a long wait at the airport in Toronto, a relatively quick-seeming flight to Madrid, an even quicker train ride to Toledo, and countless muscle aches from dragging my 60 pound suitcase all over the cobblestone streets, I’m here. I’m living in Toledo, Spain!

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View of the Old Town about five minutes walking up from the train station!

Toledo is beautiful, but I can already tell I’m going to get a work out just by walking from my apartment to my school. There are so many hills! It appears to be split between the “old” town and the new and is fairly navigable. I’ve already downloaded a helpful city bus app, which also has information about out of town buses. (If you’re spending any longer than a day in the city, I’d highly recommend it; I found it by searching “Toledo Bus” in the app store.)

I spent my first two nights here in an Air BNB, my first one ever! I’ve always been a bit wary of things like Uber and related companies just because it seemed so sketchy to me. A room in a person’s house? For a night? Is it like a hotel or a hostel? I have the keys to their house? I stayed in a bottom floor flat with a room to myself, sharing the bathroom and common areas with two others who I rarely saw. My only complaint would be that the place was difficult to find. The street “Callejon de Cura” might as well have been an alleyway with how tiny it was, and signage in Spain makes it tough to spot the street name until you’re basically there. But otherwise, it was cozy and a great way to start my adventure in Toledo!
Click here for a link the one I stayed at, my hostess Manuela was very kind and helpful, especially when I told her I was looking for an apartment. She called a few of her contacts and told me about the neighbourhoods of Toledo.

Afterwards, the real work began: my apartment hunt. I’ve been back in Spain for almost five days now, and already I’ve experienced one of my least favourite things about the country…the attitude of “mañana.” This Spanish word means “tomorrow,” but is also a common joke about how slow the pace of life is in Spain, because here, everything can wait until “mañana.” I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to be laid back, but I need an apartment! Hello! I messaged probably 40 people in total regarding their ads for rentable rooms, most of them on the Spanish renting site idealista.com. Around ten didn’t respond to my messages at all, more than fifteen were already rented out (then why is your ad still up? Because mañana, probably), and a few ended up being out of my price range. I saw four places in total and ended up in one in the neighbourhood of Buenavista.

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Buenavista is Spanish for “great view,” and that’s what I’ve got! -From my balcony

I have a different job than a lot of Spaniards, so it’s hard for me to say if life in Spain is low-cost. I mean, for me, it totally is…my room costs me 200 euros per month including the internet, cable, water, gas, electricity, etc. and came furnished with a bed, armario (I don’t know the English word for this lmao), an armchair, a desk, and a desk chair. The neighbourhood is beautiful and I’m on the 6th floor, the only fly in that ointment being that our elevator is currently broken… time to get fit I guess. I live with three Spanish women which will hopefully help me learn this language to fluency even faster. There’s also a POOL in this complex that will 1. hopefully be open for another couple weeks as it’s like 34 degrees here and 2. may have been my deciding factor in picking this apartment over others I saw. It might be a 30 minute walk to my school, but I’m committed to my fitness goals this time around in Spain, and if all else fails, the bus is right outside the gate!

Tomorrow I’ll be finalizing the contract to live here, and I can’t wait! I still have two days after that until BEDA orientation, and on the 9th I’ll be off to Portugal to kill some time before classes officially begin on 18th September!

xoxo Cady

I’m Going Back to SPAIN!

Hi everyone! I’m a bit delayed in writing this post, but I’ve been so excited, I’ve barely had the time to think! Look what came into my email the other day:

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That’s right, your girl got a spot in the BEDA program to teach English in Toledo, Spain from September 2017 to June 2018! Why would I want to do this, you ask? Well, there are a few reasons. The first is that I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, but over here in Canada, most of our college applications require some experience. And I have none! So I figured why not gain some valuable teaching practice in a lovely place like Spain? That’s reason number two: I fell in love with Spain years ago and have been itching to go back ever since. Almost exactly three years later, here I’ll go! 🙂

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I’ll be teaching here! Image from: https://nationaltokens.com/7-new-locations-toledo-spain/

Wow, was this ever an agonizing wait! I joined Facebook groups for both the BEDA and Auxiliar programs, and I’ve been anxiously watching others post their acceptances since I returned from Varadero in early May. I even racked up some pretty hefty roaming charges while in Cuba, because I was constantly checking my email for word! The year before, I heard pretty quickly from BEDA, but this year seemed to take more time. Finally, on May 17th, I had my answer!

The letter I got details my assignment (primary and high school students) and the amount of hours I’ll work each week. 24 may not seem like a lot, but in fact it’s the maximum you could be working with BEDA! Positions are assigned from 18-24 hours and are given at random. It’s a lighter work load because we’ll also be taking classes about teaching theory through the University of Comillas. I’m not sure what to expect from those, but I’m sure they’ll look great on a resume.

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Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1328388/Spain-weekend-breaks-Toledo-steel-heart.html

I’ll be living in a city with roughly 83,000 people, but it’s only 45 minutes from the Spanish capital of Madrid. Heart eyes! I have to confess, even though I spent nearly five months in and around Spain in 2014 during my exchange, I’ve never been to Madrid or most other parts of Spain (broke student life). I’m excited to discover the castles and cobblestones of Toledo, head to Madrid for easy flight-hopping and El Clasico (I’m getting tickets ASAP, baby!), take a train down to Malaga, Cordoba, or Cadiz, and explore the rest of Don Quixote’s province. I also can’t wait to visit the friends I made while living in Bilbao!

The process of applying for a student visa, which we’re technically under since we’ll be studying at Comillas, is a long one, so I promise to detail the steps that lead up to my BEDA experience as I go along! I’ve already put in an application for my national background check to be able to work with children, and I’ve made a massive list splitting up my tasks in nice “To Do” checklists for June, July, and August. Classes start on September 18th, but I’ll be in Spain long before then to apartment hunt and settle in! Oh, and I’m going to Varadero again in two weeks, for possibly the last time for a year! 😦 I’m very sad about being even further from my boyfriend for 9+ long months, but we’ve spoken about this at length, and on a sort of positive note, we’re already used to distance. I’m excited to explore Spain and the rest of Europe, and to be back in one of my favourite countries once again!

Did anyone else apply to BEDA, UCETAM, MEDDEAS or the Auxiliares program in Spain? Anyone in the Madrid/Castilla La Mancha area? I’d love to connect!

xoxo Cady

Go For Spain 2017: BEDA and Auxiliares

Wow, it sure has been a long time since I posted on my blog! This stems from the fact that I declined my BEDA offer last year and instead opted to stay here in Ontario to make some money. Did it turn out to be a good decision? Honestly, I’m on the fence about it. I really do like my job (and its benefits), I’ve met a lot of great friends through work, and I’ve been able to save some money this year which can hopefully go towards a job in Spain in September/more travels. But in contrast, I’ve also been shivering away during yet another Ontario winter, wishing I was eating churros and watching futbol in a tiny bar in Galicia (the place I was supposed to go to with BEDA!). But as they say in El Sal, #socks: eso si que es. I’m back with news though: I’ve applied to both BEDA and Auxiliares de Conversacion for the 2017/2018 school year! I never really planned to stay long here, but I did want to earn some money so that I’d be more comfortable if I did move abroad soon. Here’s hoping I get a job with either one, and here’s an update on both!

BEDA: I applied to BEDA as soon as applications opened in early December, and I received a notification for my  Skype interview several weeks later. I’ll be having it in a week from tomorrow (!), and I’m not too nervous, except for the fact that I did defer my position last year. I hope this won’t affect my chances! I wrote a bit about my experiences with the application process here, and getting the job with BEDA last year here. The interview last year was pleasant, straight-forward, and completely in English. Applications are still open although it does say until January 2017, so I’m not sure when exactly they will close. If you’re interested, apply now through this link! 🙂

Auxiliares de Conversacion: Last year I ran into a few problems with my application for the known-to-be-disorganized ADC program, which I wrote about here and here. Today I finished my application for the 2017-2018 year, and I’m inscrita (application number) 715. I wanted to be earlier, but I forgot that the applications opened on January 9th at midnight SPAIN time, and not Ontario time. Still, I submitted it, and 715th is not too shabby. I’ve heard that generally return applicants get their first choices and then it all trickles down through the ranks from there. Surprisingly, this year’s application offered not only a choice between your top 3 Spanish autonomous regions, but an option to select Andorra as a first or second choice over Spain. As far as I know, this is the first year that Andorra has been open on the program. I picked it as my second choice, because I really do love Spain, but if I got placed in Andorra I wouldn’t be disappointed. Applications officially opened today and go until 18th April 2017, but placements are on a first come, first serve basis, so apply now if you want one here!

Both programs start giving placements around the end of April/beginning of May, so you may not hear anything for awhile about that, but if I have any updates I’ll be sure to post them. I’ll also soon be writing about a recent trip to Cuba that I took, which was my first big trip since my 2015 China disaster. I have trips planned in 2017 for Cuba (again) and possibly Mexico or the Dominican Republic too. Hopefully September will also be bringing me to Spain or Andorra!

Glad to be back in the travel game 🙂

xoxo Cady

Back at it with BEDA!

Sticking with my style of doing complete 180s when it comes to life plans, I’ve had a change of heart in terms of teaching in Spain. I wrote a bit about my interview with BEDA here, but I had already basically decided to go back to university and bump up my degree to an Honours, and then go to teacher’s college here in Canada afterwards. But, I received acceptance into BEDA a few days ago, and I felt like I couldn’t say no.

Why? A few reasons. One, I feel like I have to try teaching somewhere  before I end up committing to a two-year money-draining Master’s program in teacher education here. If it turns out that I go through all of this, graduate when I’m 27-28, and end up hating teaching, it’ll be a waste of my time AND money.

Two, school will always be there, but traveling opportunities come with age restrictions and responsibilities. I’m not a parent, home owner, or car owner, and my lease ends in September. What better time to go?

Three, I love traveling, and I love Spain. While my China teaching adventure didn’t end up working out, I largely attribute the failure to my lack of proper medication for my anxiety and the language barrier around me. But hey, I speak Spanish, and I’ve already researched that my medication is available abroad. Plus, I was assigned to the beautiful little town of Orense, Galicia, which is a region completely unexplored by yours truly! How could I turn it down?

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Image from galiciaguide.com

Four is that I love the idea of teaching, and I’m itching to travel again. I want to explore more of Spain, and see other countries I never got to see the first time around. As well, I have some friends I met during my exchange that I miss dearly, who would be easy to visit once I was already across the pond.

I don’t want to be sitting in a classroom during a cold Canadian winter, wishing I’d taken the plunge but being too afraid of past failures to do it. We’ve all got to move on someday, and I’m ready to put my unfortunate China experience behind me.

I’ll end this post with a quote from one of my favourite books, and probably my favourite work of non-fiction, Wanderlust by Elisabeth Eaves:

“My wanderlust had only been in abeyance, like a briefly dormant volcano. There was so much of the world I hadn’t seen yet. There were lives, so many, that I hadn’t experimented with. What if I was meant to be an aid worker, a dive instructor, a spy? What if I was meant to be a writer in New York? And forget even what I was meant to be. What would it feel like to just wander the world, free of all responsibility, knowing I could stand on my own two feet?”

What if?

 

xoxo Cady

P.S. Anyone else get into BEDA or any other program? Let’s connect!