There are many factors I consider when applying to teach English in Spain for a whole school year. Of all the available programs to do so with (explained in great detail here), I’ve decided to apply to the official government’s Auxiliar de Conversación program and the privately run BEDA program. Here are the top 3 reasons that guide my decision process:
#1 – LOCATION
The city I end up living in is e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y important to me. Not because I’m not interested in exploring all of Spain’s nooks and crannies, but because
a) I’m a big city girl at heart; I don’t know if I could EVER live rural
b) I am 99% sure I wouldn’t be able to keep my sanity in a completely homogenous village where I am the only black person and I’m stared at like a three-headed monster every time I walk down the street (I’ve heard firsthand stories).
The Auxiliar program randomly (first come, first serve) places assistants in various regions throughout the country, but since the majority of BEDA placements are in Madrid it’s good to have an alternative where my chances are far more secure.
#2 – MONEY
In Madrid, Auxiliares de Conversación work 16 hours a week and make 1000€ a month. Outside the region, auxiliares work 12 hours a week and make 700€ a month. All of their income is untaxed. Much better than the American 40 hour work week, amirite?! Oh, and there’s also the fun fact that many regions are infamous for paying assistants up to 3 months late. Yay for poverty roulette! BEDA, on the other hand, grades your pay based on the amount of hours you work per week, and while that income is taxable, I hear they’ve never had issues paying their assistants on time. Booooring.
24 hours: 1200€ (gross)
22 hours: 1100€ (gross)
20 hours: 1000€ (gross)
18 hours: 900€ (gross)
– source as of 2013
But seriously, I do want the most bang for my buck, so I really hope to get placed in Madrid with the Auxiliar program. Otherwise, I wouldn’t mind working 20+ hours with BEDA to ensure a liveable (read: wine and travel budget) income.
#3 – SUPPORT:
This will be my first time east of the Atlantic Ocean. My first double-digit hour plane ride. My first REAL time (long story) dealing with visas and NIEs. Needless to say, I’m going to need help. The BEDA program claims they will help assistants get their documents together and their feet on the ground. The Auxiliar program will basically tell assistants “Congratulations, you’ve been accepted! See you when you land!”, and you’ll be lucky if you ever hear from them again.
While I do like the independence of DIY, I don’t like the idea of being denied a visa or not being able to open a bank account because of silly, avoidable mistakes. If I ever feel that the Auxiliar process will be too overwhelming, I can always depend on the BEDA program to be there for me when I need them.
Which program do you think is best???