Be Ready to Fail
I've hit the 30-day mark. In exactly 30 days, I will leave from SFO for Barcelona and then make my way to Bilbao by train. With that said, so far in this TEFL process, I have made a few mistakes. I have had failures. With every failure, I learn something new. In the end, all you can do is keep moving forward. Despite the following fails/lessons, I want to make it clear I am still very positive about my upcoming move to Spain and abroad. Nor is the purpose of this post for you to feel sorry for me. Not having an exact plan makes it easy to modify. I'm sure with more travel and experiences teaching English I will make more mistakes and learn new lessons, and I will edit this post. I've thought and anticipated about these future failures and how I might solve them. I have come up with plans A-Z. I'm sure my family is almost tired of me randomly thinking of these out loud and even taking steps to fix them before they happen. Only time will tell exactly how long I stay in Spain. Without further ado here are four lessons I've learned while applying for TEFL jobs so far.
Fail/Lesson #1: Test your equipment. When applying for TEFL jobs, many will be over Skype. Make sure to test your headset and settings on your computer before the interview. It had been a while since I've used Skype, but figured it wasn't complicated. I couldn't figure mine out when my first interview started and ended up having to reschedule it. Skype is very easy to use, and I have had successful interviews since this first fail. If this interview went through, who knows maybe I would have had a job set up before I go.
Fail/Lesson #2: Always set alarms and remember about time differences. I was watching TV with the family when all of a sudden I realized I missed my rescheduled interview from fail/lesson #1. I had also misjudged the time difference between California and Spain. Also, be prepared for early mornings for Skype interviews because your interview in Spain will most likely be in the afternoon (Spanish time). Spain is 9 hours ahead of Pacific Time so that typically means waking up at 4:45 a.m.
Fail/Lesson #3: Harass. I know what you must be thinking, harassment generally is not a good thing. But if you're going abroad, and you need to make sure you have all your necessary documents. I've only made preparations to go to Spain, but typically you will need some a variation of medical clearance from your doctor. So if you're preparing for your trip abroad, make sure you schedule your appointment now. Here's the story on why you need to harass people to get your documents. I had a sure thing placement to teach English in Mallorca, one of the Spanish islands in the Mediterranean, next to the famous island, Ibiza. I just needed to fill out the forms and turn in medical clearance by a set date, and everyone that applied received job placements. I made the mistake of not harassing my doctor for my clearance, and I did not get it in time. From what I've read, it's easy to get a job on the islands because most teachers get hired in Barcelona or Madrid. If you're thinking of teaching English in Spain, don't limit yourself to these two cities.
Fail/Lesson #4: Research every program and apply. This lesson/fail is for people interested in following my footsteps and hope to go to Spain one of these days. Unless you go through the official government Auxiliar de Conversaión program, which application process is roughly one year, there are a couple of other programs. Don't limit to which ones you apply regardless of what you read on the internet. All the programs I know that also don't charge a fee to get hired are Spains Auxiliar de Conversatión, Conversa, Meddeas, CAPS, BEDA. Yes, there are programs out there that make you pay. If you are planning on teaching English, never pay a company to get hired, unless it is a refundable fee. Some companies have small refundable deposits to discourage people from breaking the contract. Not that I have experience but that's what I've learned with personal research. The primary season for TEFL jobs starting in Spain is Sept/Oct, but there is also a period in January. January has been a complicated process for myself and others I've connected with online. I wanted to begin in January so that I could spend the holidays with my family, no regrets.
I have always been a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Therefore I have a positive outlook on what many people claim to be failures. I look at every failure as a lesson, and I like learning. Which is ironic because of how much I used to hate school while growing up.
Be curious. Be courageous. Be chivalrous.