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As moving abroad has been a huge step in our lives—both challenging and rewarding—we wanted to start monthly updates on how life is abroad. We thought it would be both a great way for those looking to move abroad to see what life is like as well as an opportunity for others to follow along with our lives.
In saying that, we’ve technically been here just over a month, but close enough, right?
Since we arrived one month ago, we have been up to a lot of things, like appointments, exploring Madrid, improving our Spanish, starting work, etc. It’s been busy and full of ups and downs.
Without a doubt the biggest headache that comes with moving abroad is the bureaucratic process of being a temporary resident. It’s so much paperwork and an annoying amount of appointments!
This is one thing you don’t really have to deal with when you are a citizen of a country, and you take for granted. It’s also not just Spain, as most other countries have the same annoying process for any non-citizens trying to live there.
If you really want to know all the details about these essential appointments, you can read all the things to do when you arrive in Spain as an Auxiliar de Conversación.
Some of these appointments have been getting our TIE (foreign resident card), registering where we live (Empadronamiento), and getting all our necessary documents to be able to teach English in Spain.
On top of those appointments, we had to get a Spanish SIM card and phone number, open a Spanish bank account, and find an apartment…
Check out our Madrid apartment and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos!
Improving Our Spanish
Luckily, we both speak Spanish very well, but as with anything, you can always improve! This is especially true because we are not fluent by any means and can definitely improve on our grammar.
When we first arrived, our Spanish was definitely a little rusty, especially with using vosotros and some specific vocabulary used here in Spain. However, we have really made an effort to speak Spanish and get to know Spaniards.
Between us, we have a rule that whenever we leave our apartment, we have to speak Spanish. This forces us to use the local language and improve our levels.
When you move abroad as a couple, it can be very difficult to speak the local language because most people generally speak their common language between them. There are some couples who never actually really learn the language because they are always speaking their first language—and we get it, it is very easy. That’s why we created this rule and have, so far, been very good about sticking to it!
We have met up with some Spaniards we know or met here, which has really helped because we learn more by speaking with a native speaker than speaking to each other as we both make the same mistakes.
However, it’s been a little difficult to meet people when out with some of the COVID restrictions here. In a lot of bars, you have to be sat at a table and have a server, so there is no bar service. Not being able to strike up a conversation with the people around you and interact with them has made meeting new people a little more challenging.
Hopefully, the COVID situation will improve in Spain—for many reasons—and the restrictions will change.
We both started our new jobs working as auxiliares de conversacion in Madrid. It’s been challenging starting a new job, especially after having been at our jobs in Milwaukee for so long and having built so many strong relationships with students and staff. Starting all over again has been difficult to say the least.
If we had hated our jobs in the US, it would have made this much easier, but thankfully, we didn’t!
Luckily, our schools have been pretty helpful with getting us setup and comfortable in the school and classrooms. But it’s always a struggle starting something new and becoming fully comfortable with it, especially as we compared it to the jobs we loved before.
We have also been teaching private English lessons on the side to make some extra money. Those have been going well, but it can often feel like a lot of work and time when you include traveling to and from the class.
Being able to explore Madrid without having to rush through it in a week or even a few days, has been undoubtedly the best part about moving to Spain.
We love slow travel and being able to spend more time in one place, so this has been perfect. It’s an opportunity we are trying to take full advantage of. Although, we are still on a budget…
Madrid has been fantastic so far, with tons of delicious food, wine, and things to do and see. The more we explore, the more we learn what really is a place to visit in Madrid and what really is more of a tourist trap.
As we continue to explore our new city and learn about it, we will post with our recommendations and advice of what to do in Madrid.
So far we haven’t really explored any other parts of Spain, as we have been almost exclusively in Madrid. We did take a day trip to Toledo, which is about 30 minutes outside of Madrid by train, but technically in a different autonomous community of Spain.
However, we do get our first paycheck at the end of October—Spain typically pays workers at the end of the month—and a few long weekends coming up, so our goal is to explore more parts of Spain that we haven’t been before.
If you have suggestions of places to visit in Spain, please comment and let us know!
We are so excited to continue our daily exploring of Madrid and learning about the Spanish language and culture, while we have the opportunity to live in Spain. This has become way easier now that all our necessary appointments to live in Spain are finished!
We want to take advantage of all of it and make the most of our time here, however long that may be.