So, what is Valencia? Quick facts: Valencia is an orange blossoming, port city on Spain’s southeastern coast. Not only is it Spain’s third largest city it is also a Mediterranean paradise with gorgeous beaches including Port Suplaya.
Other than the beaches, Valencia is also known for its City of Arts and Sciences, with futuristic structures including a planetarium (where ‘Tomorrowland’ was filmed) and the biggest Aquarium in Europe.
If you’re not keen on the beaches there are many parks, nearby mountains and old castles with historical attractions like Chativa and Albufera Park.
Similar to most places in Spain, Valencia has an unforgettable nightlife, no matter how many cups of Sangria you have. One of my favorite drinks is Agua de Valencia, which is similar to what Americans know as PJ or Jungle Juice if you’re from the north.
One of my favorite clubs is Mya, which is under the Arts and Science Center and has 3 different rooms playing today’s hits/hip-hop, house, and electro/techno. My favorite area is Colon, an older area of the city center with many cafes, bars, and restaurants.
The Erasmus life (young people abroad, not necessarily students) in Valencia is very big, with even greater benefits. For example, every Wednesday they offer free Salsa lessons with free sangria, paella, and tapas.
If you’re debating choosing this city over Barcelona or Madrid, I’ll tell you why I chose Valencia. I took the TEFL program in Barcelona and loved it, loved the city, the environment, and attractions. But, for me, Barcelona wasn’t somewhere I’d want to live for more than a few months or so, because of the huge tourist population and expensive prices.
Not that you can’t find affordable options on an English teacher budget in Barcelona, but Valencia is extremely affordable and was the best option for my wallet. For example, I only pay 200 euros for rent in a great neighborhood and was able to buy a city bike for transportation costing 30 euros the entire year.
I find Valencia to be more traditional, as siesta time is very prevalent and so is Spanish. I easily got by speaking English everywhere I went in Barcelona which I didn’t like. My Spanish isn’t great, but I continue to improve by speaking with locals. One benefit of living in Madrid or Barcelona over Valencia is the airport. Flights are much cheaper to other countries from the bigger airports and are more frequent.
Finally, the best for last; FALLAS. Through March 15-19th Valencia celebrates its renowned fire and firework holiday that is incomparable. There are tons of activities and things to do through the day but the following are the main events.
Everyday morning street music parades can start as early as 7am, afternoon mascletas (loud fireworks you can literally feel in your body) at 2pm, evening street light shows between 7-9pm, nightly firework shows at 10pm and street discos 12pm-6am.
Most importantly, every neighborhood has a ‘monument’ which are massive papier-mâché statues that will burn on the last day called ‘cremá.’
Obviously, my life as an English teacher in Valencia allows me to see and do many things. My first class doesn’t begin until 3 pm because I teach at an academy outside of the school system.
Generally, most students are taught English in their school, but it is very common for them to also attend classes at an academy and/or take private lessons. English academies are very prevalent in Valencia, and it took about a week for my roommate and me to find jobs. I work part-time (12 hours) Monday through Friday earning 600 euros and teach 5 different private lessons throughout the week for 10-15 euro an hour.
It doesn’t sound like much, but I am definitely able to get by. I do recommend taking an English certification course before teaching because some days can be really challenging and mentally draining. Also, relearning correct English grammar is more difficult and confusing than expected.
Teaching English abroad in Spain is and isn’t what I expected. My student’s ages range from 3 to 42 years old which is nice because everyday classes are different. The younger ages are much more difficult to teach, especially when there are fifteen 3-year-olds. But, you learn how to handle it.
It’s not common for one teacher to have that many students though, generally my classes have 4-6 students. If you have no interest in teaching children, don’t worry, many businesses hire teachers through academies to teach employees in the mornings or afternoons. If you have the interest in teaching abroad in order to live somewhere amazing, gain cultural experience, learn a new language, and travel… do it.
Being away from family and friends can be really hard at times, especially during the holidays, but you’ll make friends who are in the same boat and celebrate together. I feel that I’ve grown a lot during my time here and am so happy I made this choice.
by Emily Beam
For more information on our TEFL courses visit www.teflbarcelona.net