Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Y así comenzó todo...

OK, folks.  Here goes!  So I've started this blog to document my preparation for the Auxiliares de Conversación program in Spain.  So far this has been quite a trip, and I haven't even received my city placement yet.  First I'd like to give an explanation of the program, and why I'm very excited to get started.

In the summer of 2011 I decided to re-start my master's degree at UNT in Denton, TX.  Although I have a very comfortable and stable job situation, I am not currently using my bachelor's degree in Spanish.  I have always been very passionate about foreign languages (as evidenced by my music collection), and I kind of lucked into my Spanish degree.  Sadly I didn't use the language for a long stretch between 2007 and 2011 even though I did manage to study Germany, Italian and Portuguese during the gap.  I only took one graduate course in the fall of 2007 immediately after my graduating from UNT with my bachelor's, and I decided I was not ready for such a commitment.  Luckily I got the urge to finish the degree and return to UNT's Department of World Languages, Literature and Cultures.  So in just a year (Summer Institute of 2011 - SI of 2012), I will have finished my coursework.  Just 2 more courses this June, and I'm ready for my thesis!  I know I complain about UNT a lot, but this department has really been a blessing.  There are some great professors and a wide array of studies.  I'm truly grateful for my time here finishing my master's.

At the end of my first summer semester someone told me about this program.  It's really a perfect fit.  I've always wanted to live in a foreign country, but it's impossible unless your rich or are able to work.  There are so few reasons to get a visa in a foreign country so I had researched a number of study abroad options.  Sadly, American students can rarely work while studying abroad so that put me out of the running.  (I'll have to do a completely different blog entry on why I think studying abroad is a complete crock!  Only for the rich as far as I'm concerned.)  So you can imagine my excitement when I found an opportunity to "work" abroad.  In reality the program is an academic grant that pays native English speakers (mostly from the U.S. and Canada) to assist Spanish teachers in their classrooms.  I'm not quite sure what the position entails.  From what I've heard each school is different.  Either way you slice it, it's a fair amount of compensation of 12 hours of work per week.  That's right... you heard it right!  12 HOURS A WEEK!  So I've been working on paying off my debt and should be good to go, free of debt, this coming September. 

So on the night of November 12, 2011 I applied for the program.  The website named Profex which handles applications for this program is a beast.  You need a manual to be able to use it... no joke.  There's one included on the program's website.  Well after a little fumbling and lots of help from my auxiliar friends on Facebook, I finished my application.  My top three picks for placement were 1) les Illes Balears/las Islas Baleares/the Balearic Islands, 2) Catalunya/Cataluña/Catalonia and 3) Euskadi/el País Vasco/the Basque Country.  Can you tell I have a preference for communities that speak more than one language? 

The top 3

For the 2011 - 2012 school year the Spanish government placed just under 2,700 auxiliares in the program.  This number has risen steadily each year.  The placements are assigned on a first come, first served basis regardless of qualifications unless you're woefully under-qualified, i.e. no degree, don't bother to turn in all your forms, mentally insane etc.)  I luckily ended up with # 130, and this gave me a huge sense of security.  So after November I made sure to mail in all my physical forms as well as send the electronic versions.  At the end of December I was switched from inscrita to admitida (which means they had officially received and processed all my docs).  I knew it would be a long wait until the next step in the journey (the almighty adjudicada status which leads to me accepting the position.)  The year before it seems that the auxiliares found their regional placements around March.  However the manual for the 2012-2013 school year stated we would find out around mid-April.  OK, only a month more.  Yeah...

So April 15th arrives, and the FaceSpace is blowing up.  People are so excited and talking about placements.  About half-way through the day we all received an e-mail saying that we wouldn't hear until May.  Some forms simply stated May while others said anywhere between mid- to late May.  At this point I was ready to pull my hair out.  We all waited semi-patiently until the beginning of May.  First week of May passes... nothing!  Second week... nothing!  Then on the 14th of May we were told they would start placing us "right away."  I think something got lost in translation.  Placements certainly didn't start on the 14th.  Furthermore the 15th was a Spanish holiday.  No placements on the 15th.  Then the 16th and 17th came and went with no notice.  I was ready to give up! 

This could have been me...
On the morning of the 18th we were all chatting on Facebook, jaded as ever, commenting on how they surely wouldn't place anybody on a Friday.  Silly me!  Just when I was about to throw in the towel they started placing first years.  They had already been placing second-year renewals (who have preference over first years) and third- and fourth-year renewals as well (even though we were told they would have no preference over first years whatsoever.)  It's all water under the bridge now.  They started placing folks in the middle of the day on Friday the 18th, and stopped about 2 hours later... Neat.  Now we had to wait another weekend.  Brain fried!
Luckily we knew it was coming.  So after a long weekend more placements started coming in.  Early in the day I was overjoyed when I found that my application had been adjudicada.  They offered me my first choice:  The Balearic Islands!!!!  I couldn't have been happier.  I quickly accepted the position.  Now for more waiting.  It'll be another month before we are given city/school placements, but this is definitely enough good news to tide me over for a month.  Additionally, it's going to be a busy month.  I'm working full-time at the moment and will soon start classes (9 - 3:30, M-F) on the 4th of June (Happy Birthday shout out to my big bro).  These will be the last two classes of my master's degree before I start my thesis in Spain.  Excited?  Who?  Me?  Nah!  I also started rehearsal yesterday for Oklahoma! at Lyric Stage in Irving.  Glad to see so many familiar faces.  I also have the pleasure of carpooling with two fabulous Dentonites, Mandy Rausch and Whitney Hennen.  Could I be any luckier?!

So here's to another month of waiting and a fun summer.  I'll be studying, rehearsing, tanning (nobody wants to see this white flesh in a bathing suit!), getting medical/background checks and finally going to Houston to get my visa.  I apologize for the long and boring initial post.  Just wanted to give everyone an idea of what an ordeal this has been.  Also wanted to document this information for future auxiliares.  It's been tough but completely worthwhile.  Do not hesitate!  I have a feeling this is going to a life-changing year.  Keep your fingers crossed!  So, I'm gonna finish this post with a big Latrice-sized yell!  Hope to have more to post soon!
Un beso,
Tyler from Texas


1 comment:

  1. I'm SO EXCITED that we get to share one more theatrical experience together before you head off to Spain. I will miss you so much! But I'm incredibly proud of you!