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Barcelona Tip

Update -6th April 2001

Recently I've been getting heaps of mail from Americans thinking of coming to work here. As it seems like you guys are a pretty big section of my audience I thought I'd add a few words especially for you.

First up I'd like to suggest that any of you who have already had experience here write in to my forum/message board & let the rest of us know how you got on. People are particularly interested in the problems of working without papers & qualifications. 

Secondly I have to tell you all that I simply DO NOT know about working here without papers or qualifications as I have both. However I have attempted to find out a few things by asking around & the result can be read at my FAQ at:

Also you can see a copy of my CV translated into Spanish. I'm sure it's not the best example of such things but at least it could give you an idea.

Original Page

OK well I thought it might be appreciated if I added a page of advice & tips for any of you who may be considering a move to Barcelona. This is primarily aimed at people like myself who have minimal experience teaching EFL, obviously if you have 10 years, the Dip, a Masters, etc things are going to be different. 

So, onwards, first of all & most practical click here for a list of Barcelona's private language academies. It's by no means exhaustive but it's a start.

Secondly here's the address of a very useful bookshop that also has notices in the window for accomodation, jobs, language interchange etc. (International House has a notice board as well.) :

Come In, Provenša, I don't know the number but it's between Granados & Aribau. Take the metro to Diagonal & then walk.

There's also a bookshop next to Clifton School - look at the list for the address.  And of course there's the fantastic FNAC on Plaza Catalunya & on Diagonal. 

A-Z of Other Practical Advice: 

Cash in hand: This is totally normal here. You will be lucky to get any kind of contract here in your first year. If you do it will probably be a mixture of some hours contracted & some cash in hand. While this may seem attractive to some of you bear in mind that it also means that you can be out of a job in the blink of an eye. While I would not advise breaking contract remember that you are under no obligation to someone who will not give you a contract in the first place. I was very fortunate not to lose out on another job offer after I initially turned it down in the belief that I would be continuing with classes after Xmas only to then be told that they had been cancelled & I was out of a job. 

Concept of time: Non-existant as far as I can tell. When wandering with your CVs you will probably encounter a receptionist or director or other individual who asks you to wait a "moment". This moment could last half an hour. Maybe more. Be prepared to wait.

And of course it should go without saying that your lessons will NEVER start at the specified time. For an hour and a half you can usually expect to lose the first 15 minutes. Always have work prepared just in case they all turn up on time but also be prepared to only have one or two Ss for the 1st 10-15 mins.

Culture schock: You're probably thinking, like me, ah it's only Spain, how different can it be? Oh boy did I ever get that wrong! After well over a year I'm still getting used to some aspects of life here. Some examples? OK:

1)School Timetable: Not applicable to all but to many of the schools here: 9 or 10 - 1 or 2 then closed till 4 or 5 then open till 9 or 10. Better bear this in mind when trekking round with those CVs. Caught me out a few times in the early days.

2)Shopping Timetable: 9-1 or 2 then closed till 5 or 5:30 then open till 8 or 9. You would not believe the amount of times I have forgotten about this & gone out to buy something at 3:00. This is a real pain in the ass.

3)Going out timetable: Do not even think about going to a disco before 2:00am. It will be either shut or empty. 3-4 is more normal & even that's early for some. Oh & be careful what we call night clubs the Spanish call discos. Night club to them means a dodgy place with strippers. I got a few funny looks before I twigged to this.

4)Fun with the horn: The Spaniard will beep his or her horn at any time of day or night for any & all reasons. Particularly if the car in front fails to instantaneously move into the 2 inch gap that appears when somebody else moves. Apparantly in other parts of Spain the gap is reduced to 1 inch. At first this will make you want to kill. Later it gets easier.

Debts: If you're coming here with debts to pay (especially if they're in pounds) FORGET IT! Do not come here. You cannot earn enough money. You can have a great time & live here just fine on the money you earn but nothing else.

Do you like children? Particularly, do you like manic, LOUD, Spanish/Catalan children? At some point you will have to teach them if you want to work here full-time. They are not for the faint hearted. Personally I think they suck & their parents should try teaching them some manners . But one endures.

Metro: If you find yourself using the Metro a lot you can get a monthly pass called a T-Mes from any metro station. It's approx 5,000 ptas & worth it's weight in gold when you're kriss-krossing the city on a daily basis. Of course it's also very simple to just jump it.

Missing your pints? There are a myriad number of your ubiquitous Irish pubs around plus a couple of English & Scottish ones. My local is Michael Collins in Plaza de la Sagrada Familia & you'll occasionally find me hanging out there with a pint of Kilkenny berating the lack of imagination displayed by the guitarist in the corner doing yet another version of American bloody Pie. Oh & these places are about the only ones worth going to if you fancy a pint at the more English time of 7-10.

Need to buy cheap stuff like a TV or something? There's a Cash Converters on Balmes. I think it's between Rosello & Provenša. Near there anyway. Very handy place.

Warning - think hard about your decision to come here. There is TONS of competition for jobs. If you don't have anything lined up before you leave you MUST be here by 1st September at the latest if you want a decent timetable. Many schools will NOT give you a full time contract until you have at least one year under your belt. I was scrabbling about working for 4 different schools in the Oct-Xmas period trying to make up the hours & the money. 

That's about all I can think of except to say that if, like I was, you're feeling a bit lonely in the early days then you're welcome to & we can go get a pint somewhere. Don't ask me about accomodation though cos I don't know. 

OK, have fun wherever you end up. :) 

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