Adventure Awaits

Officially five months in! In that time, I have been living through Spanish history, finally have the feeling of being settled in, and accustomed to my ever-changing schedule, which unsurprisingly, will change yet again at the end of June. It has been over a month since I have traveled out of the city, needless to say, I am itching to travel again! Adventure awaits me.

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All about the connections

Although I have not traveled these past two weeks, they have been full of amazing experiences with the people in my life, old and new! From launching an Instagram account with my sister, a mini-reunion with former co-workers, watching Real Madrid win the Champions League final with a friend I met in Thailand, to even kissing in the rain…

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Life is too short, live it well

These past three weeks have been full of joy and frustration.  I have met new people, strengthened relationships with friends and students, and went on two memorable trips filled with good people, food, sights, and even guys.  Alternatively, the crazy workload, language barrier, and technology continues to frustrate.  And a death of a young and beloved co-worker really shows you that life is too short, and you must live it well.

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Words cannot describe

Words cannot describe my trip to Munich, Germany.  The delicious Bavarian food and beer, beauty, and history left me speechless (which is not an easy task!)  From walking around the city’s main square, making German friends, venturing to an enchanting castle at the foot of the Bavarian Alps, and retracing the steps of those who were imprisoned at the first permanent concentration camp, this trip was an unforgettable one.

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This is what I came for

Finally, almost four months in, I took my first trip out of the country.  The week of Semana Santa (Easter Week), two friends and I journeyed to Portugal. The hustle and bustle of teaching in Madrid had taken its toll on us.  The trip was exactly what I needed and reminded me this is what I came for…              

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From Ana and Alberto...

Hello! We're the Spanish kids that Jackie is taking care of. Alberto love basketball and playing tennis. He love to talk about poo and Trump. He think that Trump is stupid. When he grows up he wants to be an inventor. I am Ana and I love volleyball and tennis. I love reading and music. When I grow up I want to be a doctor. See you soon!

Going with the flow

It’s hard to believe that I have been living in Madrid for two months.  It feels like years. Every week has brought new experiences, challenges, and adventures. 

Yet again, my work schedule has changed.  The results of my massive email sends from prior weeks led to two additional interviews at academies both hiring Americans legally.  The internal struggle of accepting and rejecting work almost caused me to cancel the interviews.  Thankfully, I reached out to a friend, a former TEFL teacher living in the Czech Republic, who put things into perspective and reminded me of my original intention of working abroad legally.  Following his advice, I went on the first interview and was offered the position.  Off the bat, I picked up nine hours of in company classes that fit (almost) perfectly into my schedule. As the academy is hiring me legally, my contract will be for 15-20 hours.  Therefore, they will give me more classes and not so surprisingly, my schedule is still in flux.

I began teaching the in company classes at a Spanish Biotech company.  The classes take place in a conference room and it feels good to be back in a familiar setting.  The students are great and eager to improve their English.  I also had my first work happy hour with my new co-workers.  Something I did not and could not have with my previous schedule of private classes and being a nanny.

Of course the academy, the Biotech company, the home I watch the kids, and my apartment are not located near each other or even on the same metro line.  I have learned that I need to give myself an hour to get anywhere in the city to account for walking to the metro, switching metro lines, and walking to the destination.  I wish I could say I have the timing down…

Despite figuring my routine and rushing from place to another, I was able to squeeze in a couple hours to see my first visitors from back home!  My cousin and her husband booked a trip to Madrid and Lisbon.  It was awesome to spend some time with them.

Although life these past two months has been unpredictable, unstable, and stressful, I am slowly learning to go with the flow.  Time to start finding joy in this journey.   

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Call me Mary Poppins

After two weeks of searching for work without much success, I decided it was time to expand my job search.  Based on my experience, I wanted to teach adults and in company classes. As that was not working, I started looking into teaching children and even becoming a nanny.  Two weekends ago, an ad caught my eye on a local job posting site: a nanny for two children, a 11-year-old girl and an 8-year old boy, about a 15-minute metro ride from my neighborhood, 10 hours a week, and for a larger pay than most language schools offer.  The opportunity almost sounded too good to be true! I would have a large chuck of my work schedule filled, with almost no prep time, not that far away, and reliable? I immediately responded to the ad with hopes that it would work out.

By that following Tuesday, I had seven random classes lined up: a mixture of private and group classes to adults and children.  While prepping for my Tuesday evening class, I received an email from the mother looking for a nanny for an interview that evening.  Unfortunately, the time she suggested conflicted with my class.  Sadly, the next time she offered was Thursday night, which I agreed to.  However, my experience thus far in Madrid has taught me 1) not to wait around and 2) nothing is guaranteed.  Listening to my intuition, I asked the mother if we could meet at 9:30 PM that night.  I was not going to let this opportunity slip through my fingers.  Thankfully, she agreed.  I gave myself thirty minutes to commute to the family’s home.  Boy, my estimation was off!  I did not consider the time to walk to and from the metro, transferring metro lines, and waiting for the metro.  When I arrived at the metro station near the family’s home, I had 4 minutes to go 0.8 miles. I looked for any possible taxi, Uber, etc. nearby, but I had no success.  So, I ran.  I got to the gates of their building exactly 3 minutes late.  I remember sitting on their couch out of breath and felt a bead of sweat drip down my back.  All things considered, the interview went well and they’d let me know in the next couple days if I was hired.

The next day, I was preparing for my classes and I got a phone call from a weird number.  As I have learned not to let any calls go unanswered, I picked it up.  It was the mother and she offered me the job!  I gladly accepted and agreed to start the following Monday.  After a moment of excitement, I had to start rescheduling and canceling the classes that I have picked up.  I am not one to go back on my word, but the way the teaching world works in Madrid is you must look out for what is best for you, companies and teachers alike.

That weekend, I took advantage of the time I had before my life began to pick up.  I went to Casa de Campo (a large park in Madrid), the Museo del Prado, on my first bike ride in the city, and on my second day trip to the ancient city and former home of the painter, El Greco, Toledo, Spain.  Check out my photography from Toledo here.

This week, I have been taking four hours of Spanish classes each day, started nannying, and continued to interview and picked up additional classes.  Mi clases de Español esta muy bien!  Also, being a nanny has been interesting and fun! The kids, Ana and Alberto, are really sweet and love playing Mad libs.  By the end of this week, my schedule is pretty set: 20 hours of Spanish classes (which will be reduced to 10 hours after next week), 10 hours of nannying, and 7 hours of English classes.

I am happy to say that I am finally settled in.  I have a place, a filled-up work schedule, friends, and Spanish classes.  Let the wandering truly begin…

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You’re hired!! Wait, nevermind…

My lovely subscribers, thank you for your patience with my blog posts as I settle into my new life. The past two and a half weeks have been jammed packed.  I completed my teacher training, moved out of my first AirBnb, moved in and out of my second AirBnb, moved into my apartment, went on numerous interviews, went on my first day trip out of the city, attended an expat event, saw my first movie in a Spanish cinema, and continued to explore this beautiful city I now call home.

On my first day trip out of Madrid, my friends and I traveled to Ávila, Spain, a majestic city about two hours outside the city.  The train ride to Ávila came straight out of a movie.  We passed by several rural villages, wild cattle grazing the land, and saw snow covered mountains in the distance.  Once in Ávila, we walked through the modern part of the town to the tall, medieval walls surrounding the old town.  After entering through the walls, we discovered an outdoor market in the square and ate a hearty lunch at a restaurant that too had a medieval feel to it.  After lunch, we climbed the steep and narrow stairs to the top of the wall, where we took in the breathtaking views of the Spanish landscape.  Check out my pictures from the trip here.  

That following week, we completed our teacher training.  We were popping bottles at 11 AM one morning celebrating with the TtMadrid trainers as we entered the teaching world of Madrid.  How interesting it has been!  My CV has been sent through every channel possible from TtMadrid’s network, language schools I found on Google maps or walked by, local advertising sites, to even an email address I saw on a flyer laying on the sidewalk.  After numerous emails, five face-to-face interviews, and one observed class, in which I was thrown into teaching the last thirty minutes unprepared, I finally had a work schedule figured out: a business English class at a well known international Accounting firm and acquiring a former TtMadrid teacher’s 14-hour schedule. It was perfect, and I was all set to start the following Monday. Then the weekend hit.  Back to back, both companies rescinded the offers and went with other teachers, “with whom we have no difficulties when formalizing the contract.”  And, with that I was back to square one.

The following week, I was back at it, sending more emails and going on interviews.  And now, I am starting my first private English class and I may have a job with an English Language School (with paid vacation!) if the Director is willing to compile the necessary paperwork and pay the 200€ fee to hire me legally... 

Putting the complicated job search aside, I have settled into my new apartment.  I am beyond thrilled to be no longer living out of two suitcases and within walking distance to two metro stops, my Spanish classes, friends, and plenty of shopping.  I have two Spanish roommates, in which one knows English and the other does not, which will thankfully force me to work on my Spanish.

Slowly, but surely, my life in Madrid is coming together.