It’s official—I have moved to Spain! For the next year, I will be teaching English in Spain and making this beautiful country my home.
I wanted to move to Spain back in 2013, but it didn’t work out. I didn’t have peace about it then. But flash forward to June of this year, when I was on a road trip in Georgia with my friend John. At that time, my future seemed really vague and unclear. Earlier in the year, I got out of a relationship, so I was getting past that. I had interviewed to be a worship leader at two churches—It didn’t seem like the right fit with one, and I wasn’t offered the position for the other. I have not had peace about applying for another full-time ministerial role. So as John and I were driving along I-75, my dream from 2013 suddenly flashed back to me—I could be an English teacher in Spain! I turned to John and said, “Hey, tell me… What are the pros and cons of moving to Spain for a year?” Quickly, we realized there were far more benefits than fears!
It’s easy to decide to move to Spain, but the tough part is how. What program should I go through? How much will it cost? How do I even get into the country? Do I need a visa, and if so, what type? So after a few weeks, I figured it out… I would need a student visa, and I would get a job on my own—I would go the independent route. As a U.S. citizen, you can travel into any of the 26 countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days on tourist visa. But you cannot legally work with it, and you cannot have another tourist visa until 180 days have passed from initially getting the visa.
The next option for living in Spain is a work visa. But if you’re not a member of the European Union, you can count yourself out of that one. To get a work visa, the company would have to prove that they have provided a thorough search of all potential candidates in the European Union and see that the U.S. citizen is the best option. With a student visa, you can live in Spain for up to a year and legally work for up to 20 hours. You have to be registered with an institution in Spain, so I am registered for 20 hours of Spanish classes a week with TtMadrid.
For a student visa, you have to go in-person to one of the Spain consulates in the U.S. For Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, you have to go to the Miami Consulate. So in July, I had my appointment with the consulate, bringing with me: background check, apostille stamp, passport, proof of financial coverage, proof of Spanish classes, Spain health insurance, and proof of good health. Then when they approve it a few weeks later, they ship your passport with the student visa sticker in it.
I have solved a few key elements, but there are still a lot of unknowns waiting for me here. I don’t know where I am going to live, and I don’t know where I am going to work—two major ones! But life always works out. I have an AirBnB room the first four nights here, during which I will apartment hunt. It’s important to search for apartments in person, because there are 21 neighborhoods (or barrios) in Madrid, each with its own characteristics. English teachers are in high demand in many countries, including Spain! So I am not worried about getting a job there. Schools in Spain do not interview you over Skype before you reach Spain, so now that I am here, I will begin the job search process.
The past 3 months, I have been working on my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Certification through the TEFL International Academy. Having 150 hours of online work and a 20-hour practicum makes you attractive to employers. I have two online jobs right now to get me by before landing a job there. I am an online tutor in Accounting and Finance through Tutor.com, and last week I was just hired to teach English online to Chinese students through VIP KID.
The next month will be a combination of sensory overload, culture shock, language barriers, and a lot of good experiences. There are a lot of variables, but you know what I love? Since day one of committing to Spain, I have had complete peace, which I believe comes from God. I truly believe He will guide me through every step of this process.
Please post any questions, and I would love to answer them! Keep an eye out for more posts about my experience in Spain. I want to vicariously take you along the next year with me!