13 Ways for Future Auxiliares Anxiously Awaiting Placements to Maintain Sanity

Another year, another batch of hopeful auxiliares de conversación/North American Language and Culture Assistants anxiously awaiting their placements. I’ve been there, and, as a renewal, I’m there again. I understand the anxiety, the stress, the excitement as you wait for the Spanish government to, well, pretty much determine your future. But before you go insane waiting to find out where you’ll be living in five months, here are twelve ways to pass the time until you get that sacred adjudicado email from the Ministerio de Educación.

Brush up on your Spanish

Whether you’re going to Spain fluent in Spanish or barely remembering how to say, “Thank you,” it’s a great idea to brush up on your Spanish before heading over. And a simple way to do that right from home is through media. Download podcasts in Spanish! My personal favorite is the free Notes in Spanish, which will help your comprehension as well as introduce you to fascinating cultural facts about Spain. Also check out PeliculasYonkis and SeriesYonkis for free (illegal) streaming movies and TV shows dubbed or subtitled in Spanish. Or simply turn on your local Spanish station, such as Telemundo or Univisión, which won’t help with the Castellano accent but will still improve your listening skills.

Everyone’s favorite guilty pleasure Spanish show, Física o Química

Meet Spanish penpals

Why not start making friends in Spain before you arrive? Check out sites like Conversation Exchange to meet native speakers to practice Spanish via email, Skype, or instant messenger. Maybe you’ll even end up living in the same city as them or will get a chance to visit them during your time abroad!

Start planning all your fabulous trips around Europe

Pull out a map and start dreaming of all the amazing places you’ll be able to visit easily and inexpensively while living in Spain. Pick up a guide book and start reading about the innumerable fantastic cities Europe has to offer. Fantasize away, and when you arrive in Spain, you’ll have a great bucket list to start ticking off.

Oh, the places you’ll go!

Keep up-to-date on Spanish current events

Spain may be thousands of miles away now, but start becoming better politically and culturally informed now! Read Spanish newspapers online, like El País or El Mundo. If you’re not comfortable with your reading skills yet, El País also offers an English version of their newspaper.

Commiserate with other future auxiliares

At least you’re not alone in your placement anxiety. Tons of other auxiliares are in the same boat as you, actively discussing their prospects on Facebook groups and forums. We all seem to be getting worked up into a frenzy on there, but it’s also somewhat therapeutic, right?

Discover your favorite auxiliar/expat blogs

Reading about past and current auxiliares’ experiences is a great way to get psyched about the year ahead of you, so start reading what others have to say about their time in Spain. Check out my “Favorite Travel Blogs” list to the right for my personal favorite auxiliar/expat blogs. Keep them in one easy-to-read place with Feedly.

Become a Spanish history buff

Spain is magnificent, but it’s even more magnificent when you understand the long, momentous, fascinating history it’s endured. Pick up a book on Spanish history at your local library or simply start browsing Wikipedia. No matter where you’re placed or where you travel, there will be tons of history there, and knowing a place’s past will make it all the more exciting to see.

Who wouldn’t want to learn about hotties like Carlos III?

Practice Spanish with fellow enthusiasts at home

Before heading off to Spain in the fall, meet up with other Spanish speakers in your area to practice your conversation skills. Your university may offer conversational groups, or check out Meetup.com.

Start speaking like a local

You may be able to recite conjugation tables backwards and forwards, but you won’t sound like a real Spanish speaker until you get to know the country’s slang. Learn some of Spain’s favorite colloquial phrases on pages like this one or this one to arrive in Spain armed with a superguay lexicon.

Launch your blog

One of the best ways to keep in touch with friends and family back home and record memories from your time abroad is to blog about your Spanish adventures. Your journey may not have begun yet, but your record of it can! WordPress, Blogspot, and Tumblr are a few free, popular blogging platforms. Be sure to comment here with a link to your blog so I can check it out!

If a cat can do it, so can you.

Follow Spain/auxiliar-related Twitter accounts

Twitter has an abundance of awesome Spain and auxiliar-related feeds. For news, follow @el_pais or @elmundo. Find the Twitter accounts of your favorite bloggers. For some great auxiliar humor, follow @guiribullshit, @spainproblems, or @auxiliarprobs.

Obsessively check your email and Profex

It may not be doing any good, but, come on, I know you’re doing it anyway.

Enjoy the rest of your time at home

Your mind may be stubbornly stuck in your imagined Spanish life of the future, but don’t forget to appreciate every moment before you leave for your auxiliar adventure. Spend time with your loved ones, because, as excited as you are about Spain, I promise you’ll miss them when you’re gone. Eat all your favorite local foods. If you’re finishing college, savor every moment of the last few weeks, because they only come once a lifetime. It’s way easier said than done, but live in the moment!

How are you managing to pass the time while anxiously awaiting your placement? Where are you hoping to get placed?

21 Responses

  1. janet jeffries says:

    They are all very interesting ideas! I may even try some! I love you!

  2. Cassandra says:

    I feel your list is very complete because you mentioned most of the things I also did before I came to Spain! Even though I’d studied abroad here, I did a bunch of brushing up–on the language, the history, and the geography. For instance, I made sure I knew where each of the 17 autonomias was before I arrived, and people were impressed when I knew where Cantabria or Navarra were located.

    I love the suggestion of having future auxiliars follow GuiriBullshit! That’s a very realistic introduction to fellow English teachers, haha.

    I also recommend purchasing guidebooks to both Spain and Europe; not only will they offer cultural tips, but you get to plan where you wanna go! And isn’t dreaming part of the fun?

  3. Deseree says:

    Dear Kristie,

    I was wondering when the Ministry of Education in Spain let you know you had a spot. Could you let me know when last year they had given you the exciting news?

    Thanks so much!


    • Kirstie says:

      Hi Deseree,

      Last year, as inscrita number 200-something, I got my regional placement in late March and my school/town placement in late May. They’re clearly on a different schedule this year, though. They just started placing first years on Friday, so hopefully many people will be placed this week!

  4. Deseree says:

    Hello Kristie,

    Thank you for responding so quickly and thanks for the heads up about placements!

    Have a great day!


  5. Kate says:

    Hi Kirstie,

    As I’m waiting to hear back about where I’ll be placed on the British Council scheme for October (UK equivalent to the US programme) finding your post about this came just at the right time!

    I’m currently waiting to hear where I’ve been placed, it’s all quite nervewracking, but I just cannot wait to get back to Spain!!

    I agree with watching Spanish tv to help with comprehension and a great way to pick up slang – after a year living in France I think my Spanish skills have definitely taken a battering! haha

    • Kirstie says:

      How exciting! Where are you hoping to be placed?

      Learning multiple languages (especially two that are as similar as French and Spanish) can get confusing – at one point I was taking Spanish and Italian classes back-to-back and that got overwhelming – but just think of all the cognates that will help your Spanish and vice versa!

  6. Kate says:

    I’m hoping to get placed somewhere in the north, hopefully Asturias or Castilla y León. I’m sure wherever I end up I’ll enjoy it, it’s just this not knowing part that I really don’t like!

    I know right! I started taking Italian a couple of years ago, and was surprised how quickly I could read and understand it due to my knowledge of Spanish. Wow! yeah I can imagine that must have been pretty full on, but I guess it just makes you better at both languages!

    • Kirstie says:

      That would be great! Those areas are beautiful, but, then again, all of Spain is! Here‘s my post about visiting Asturias, by the way.

      I’m having the same experience doing Portuguese on Duolingo right now. I feel like I’m far more fluent than I actually am thanks to Spanish.

  7. …I’m a NALCA first-year (Aragón), just awaitin’ for my carta to appear–except that it actually won’t until sometime in July, :-/…I know that I’ll just have to sit tight with my patient-pants on–but, as you know, that’s easier said than done!!…

    Love your blog, btw!!…

    • Kirstie says:

      It’s a painful wait! Aragón is beautiful, though, and no matter where you’re placed, you’ll be able to travel around.

      Thanks for reading my blog! I’ll have to add yours to my RSS feed as well 🙂

      • …Funny–you seem to be one of the few people who’s actually visited Aragón!!…

        And I enjoy reading your blog–I enjoy reading about your adventures in the land of Hugh Jackman, :-)!!!!…

        • Kirstie says:

          I managed to get to all of the comunidades autónomas except for Murcia! So close.

          Hahaha, land of Hugh Jackman. If only he hung around closer to my apartment more 🙂

          • …Yes–you cold be awakened to the sound of him vocalizing AND unsheathing his Wolverine claws!!…

            Murcia–I’ve heard it’s nice (but I’m glad I’m not working there…

            • Kirstie says:

              Bahahaha, that makes it sound a bit less pleasant!

              Yeah, Aragón will definitely be nicer than Murcia. I love that I got to teach one year in Andalucía and another in Madrid, but I’d love to spend more time in Northern Spain! So beautiful, friendly people, delicious food, etc.

              • …Hey–you can ALWAYS come back, :-)!!…

                I’m debating whether or not I should renew in Madrid next year…I mean, yes, I know that I haven’t even STARTED this experience yet, but it’s still something to think about!!…

                But, come on–the fact that Jean Valjean is able to take on Magneto over and over again is AMAZING (must be somthing in the water over there), ;-)!!…

                • Kirstie says:

                  That’s true! It’s nice to know it’s always an option.

                  Haha, I was thinking ahead like that before I had even started as well! Who knows, perhaps you’ll move to Aragón forever.

                  Australian water, creating badasses everywhere.

  8. Ryan Lopez says:

    I thought your list was awesome! And while I can’t even apply to be in the auxiliar program for another month, I thoroughly enjoyed the article. Good advice! Especially #13, that’s good for everyone!

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