06 July 2010

School placement and other logistics

This might be long, but its useful information...

I finally received my school placement! I will be teaching at a primary school on the east side of Madrid. The name of my school is Colegio Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, named after a poet/author who was born in Seville, Spain and later moved to Madrid to pursue his writing. Not surprisingly, I don't really know much else. The letter that I received from my comunidad autonomia did not tell me what grades my school has or what classes I would be teaching. I do know that I will be working 16 hours a week and making 1000€ a month. I also have to find my own housing, transportation, etc. The good thing is that my school is right off of one of the metro lines (Line 2, to be exact) and it is not that far from the city center. The proximity to the train and to the city center means that I can pretty much live anywhere in the city that I want while still being able to limit my commute. In this regard, I am lucky. There are some people who have been placed 30-45 minutes outside of the city. Because of this, they will have to decide if they want to live in Madrid capital or if they want to live in their respective community. If they choose Madrid, which most will, they will be limited to the areas surrounding the suburb train stations unless they want a crazy commute to and from work. So, needless to say, I am pretty happy with my placement.

My only beef is that my school's website is pretty shoddy. The design is reminiscent of one of those cookie-cutter-type starter sites that anyone can create using a universal format. The information is very limited and a couple of the links don't even work. There are some good pictures, which is nice, but they aren't necessarily that flattering. The building looks a bit run down on the outside while somehow remaining presentable on the inside. (It is hard to tell some of these things from a series of 10-20 pictures, but I am piecing things together the best that I can.)

I have been looking at apartments online, and it does not seem like it is going to be that hard to find something. Obviously, looking now won't do much good because I am not moving until September. But, I just want to get an idea of what I am going to be dealing with. Pisos compartidos (shared flats) are the most common thing for someone in my situation to rent. Basically, 2-4 people share an apartment, or as the rest of the world says, a flat. Most of these cost between 300 and 400€ per month. They are pretty much furnished and usually include utilities (including internet). Sometimes the utilities are separate, but you can still get the whole deal for 400€ or less. As the time to move draws nearer, I will start contacting the leasers of the places that I like, but there will be no point in doing this until the beginning of September. I am hoping to live with nonAmericans. Don't get me wrong, I love my American comrades, but I think that I will get a much more authentic experience if I live with locals, or at least some Europeans.

I will be getting a pay-as-you-go cell phone that I will probably only use for very important in-country calls and then everyday texting. I will be contacting people in the states via Facebook, Gchat, Skype, and just plain ole email.

My train/bus pass will only cost about 50€ per month, which is cheaper than the $86 that I pay for my monthly pass in Chicago. Madrid's public transportation system is the 6th largest in the world and is supposedly incredibly reliable, so this should be 50€ well spent.

I think that is all for now. I am not sure how much I will be updating this thing before I leave in September, as there won't be many updates. Assuming that I am approved for my visa in a timely manner, I have pretty much taken care of everything that I can take care of at this point.

¡Que les vaya bien!

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