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Category Archives: Life Abroad

Warning to Auxiliares de Conversacion in Spain

NOTE: I haven’t checked in on the status of this in a LONG time. I don’t think there’s much concern about this situation and I don’t want to discourage anyone from taking part in this program.

After looking over the Facebook groups, here and here, for Auxiliares de Conversacion in Spain, I saw mentioned that some Auxiliares are not getting paid, or are getting paid in strange ways. Anybody considering this program should be made aware of this immediately and should take this into consideration.

The problem is mostly regional. The regions worst affected are Murcia and Galicia, whose government coffers have been emptied. Some people have not been paid in several months are running out of money. One girl is apparently down to her last €2.

Madrid is apparently affected too, but I have not had any problems, nor have my friends. Keep in mind though, Madrid is the region with the largest number of Auxiliares. I do know of one girl who had to wait a long time for her check. Also, whenever she was late, they threatened to cut her salary—which is pretty much unthinkable for most funcionarios.

In all regions, there’s another big problem. Often they withhold your first check for a month or two or three until the Autonomous Region deposits your funds into their account. I didn’t have this problem at my school, but I was somewhat lucky. Most people, however, don’t have this problem for more than a month, but some have it until December, which means living off of pasta and margarine and worrying about the rent until Christmastime when you get a lump sum in your account.

Also, some regions don’t pay you monthly. One girl says that she only gets paid twice a year in Pais Vasco, once in November and once in April. It means you have to manage your money better, but at least they pay you early rather than late.

Keep in mind, if you’re considering this program, that you make more money in Madrid, even if Madrid is going broke and has a higher cost of living. At €1000 you make €300 more than all the other regions (including the very pricy Basque Country and Catalonia). The Spanish government, fearing that you’ll take this use this information to your advantage and apply to Madrid, doesn’t tell you this until after your placement, but I think you should know now.

This is still your best bet (if you’re an American, at least) for getting to teach in Spain, but as the economy of Spain worsens you might want to pay attention to any slashes in government spending which could spell the end of this program. As of yet there has been no mention of this. In Madrid, the government is planning to step up its English teaching programs and make the entire Community bilingual. I suppose their intentions for doing this are so that they can enable their youngest and smartest to be able to move abroad for work, because Spain won’t be offering them much any time soon.

Nevertheless, these cases are rare and most people don’t have any problem. The safest regions are probably the central ones surrounding Madrid (Castilla y Leon, Extremadura, Aragon) followed by Madrid, Andalucia, Catalonia and Basque Country, while some of the smaller ones like Galicia, Asturias and Murcia probably have more problems.

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How Americans can drive in Spain

I was thinking about buying a car or a motorcycle, so I did some research on the rules for American drivers in Spain.

First, in the short term, you should not have a problem. If you’re going on vacation, you just need to rent a car, and most companies accept your license eagerly.

Now to the more complicated process for Americans residing long term in Spain. You can legally rent cars without much trouble, but if you want to buy a used car and use it for a year or so, then you’re going to have to get an international driving permit. AAA offers this and it’s not very hard to get, nor very costly (only 15 bucks). Here is the application, which you can either print out and take to a AAA office in the US, or you can mail it to them if you’re abroad.

In Spain, you can drive for up to one year legally with your international driving permit, after which time you’ll have to get a real Spanish driver’s license.

A final note: there are some websites offering international driver’s licenses. I’m not sure if they are scams or other companies which offer you permits but call them licenses. Either way, you’re better off just dealing with good old Triple A. SpainExpat also says that not all US states’ licenses work abroad (apparently states can make individual agreements with foreign powers) but that the Spanish authorities are unlikely to question any of them if you have your international permit, so it’s not worth worrying about.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2011 in Europe, Life Abroad, Spain, Tourism