North American Language and Culture Assistants/Auxiliares Q&A Part 3

More questions from a new Baeza auxiliar:

I was wondering if you could give me some insight into the area, living and teaching. I just received a placement in Baeza at the school CEIP Angela Lopez. I read that you lived in Baeza on the weekends and am wondering what you thought of the town and if you would recommend living there or if it would be a good idea or even feasible to commute from Linares or Jaen. How much is there to do in Baeza and are there many other auxiliares de conversacion in the area? Anything you can tell me about it would be great!

I would love to know about the actual teaching experience (what your responsibilities are, etc…) as well.

Thanks so much for any input!

So first of all, let me tell you that I only lived in Baeza four days a week…I was assigned to a SUPER tiny town about two hours from Baeza and I worked there three days a week and then spent my super long weekends in Baeza. I also was only an auxiliar for five months because I left the program early, having to rent two apartments and commuting two hours every week and being the only auxiliar within like an hour kinda took its toll!

The good news for you is that Baeza is adorable and there are lots of auxiliars there. I think there were twelve when I was there, plus another 6 or 8 in Úbeda, which is literally five minutes away by car, though they manage to drag it into 15 on the bus. You won’t find the bus schedules online, but they go very, very often, from about 7:30am to about 8:30pm.

Jaén isn’t as charming as Baeza, but it definitely has more going on. They have an El Corte Inglés, a RENFE station, and a university, as well as all the other things you associate with Spain, like the big chain stores for shopping, pedestrianized streets, etc. It’s not cute at first, but once you hang out there and learn where the good spots are, Jaén can be a lot of fun! I only went to Linares once or twice because they have a RENFE station (it’s actually a little outside the city) and a movie theatre, etc., but it seemed surprisingly nice! If I were assigned in Baeza, I would probably live in Jaén and then commute, and I would definitely make friends with the other auxiliars in town and crash on their couches as often as possible! That way you get to experience all the cute, charming, small-town-ness of Baeza, but you don’t miss out on other cooler things in Jaén. It’s also a LOT easier to travel from the capital than it is from Baeza. I would go early and visit Linares and Jaén and Baeza (and Úbeda too!) and decide what you like best. Keeping in touch with other auxiliars is key because you can find easy roommates that way and find places to stay as well. I think it’s important to see these cities with people who know their way around, either other auxiliars or locals or Erasmus students, because they are not all that touristy and it can be hard to see the best of them on your own. Use facebook, couchsurfing, and expatriate cafe to find people!

Baeza itself has a few good tapas bars (I can give you names if you want!) and on Fridays they have the most authentic, awesome flamenco shows you could ever imagine in this old wine cellar beneath a bar and they are totally free! It’s usually just guitar and singing, but it’s soooo cool. Not a tourist in sight! Tapas are free throughout Jaén province, which is awesome, and everything is ridiculously cheap. You can get 3 drinks for about 4 euros and each of them will come with a plate of food. Baeza has a great small market (like a baby baby version of La Boqueria, if you’ve ever been to Barcelona), and the locals are SO nice and open to foreigners, mainly because there aren’t many there! Life is cheap in Baeza, but it’s still pretty cheap in the capital and in Linares as well. Go in with an open mind and you will be pleasantly surprised!

I will ask a friend who taught in Baeza if he knows who worked at Angela Lopez, I can’t remember which school that was. At my school I worked 12 hours, spread across tues-wed-thurs, and I did a little of everything: made materials for class, taught vocab and led exercises in the elementary school, created lectures and activies in the high school. My experience was really different because I was working at two schools (one colegio, one instituto) in a really remote town and they changed my schedule so I could leave on the weekends, but everyone works pretty light hours and most people had three day weekends. I also worked in a year zero school, so I was the first auxiliar there ever and I think my responsibilities were a little different than most people. There are a lot of opportunities for private lessons in Baeza, too, which is nice for making extra money. There is a Guardia Civil academy where you can teach, plus lots of language academies and students who want tutors after school. Also, if you’re into the whole guy in uniform thing, there are seriously Guardias-in training EVERYWHERE. It can throw the guy-girl ratio off a lot, and sometimes you feel like everyone in the town is a police officer!

It gets cold there, so be aware of that. I was shocked at how cold it got, and it snowed more than a few times. But it is also going to be hot hot hot when you get there and when you’re about to leave. I would say don’t worry too much about getting a piso before you arrive, you should be able to find something nice pretty easily! I rented a room with another auxiliar and a Spanish girl, and I paid 115 for my room….so cheap!

efully that answered some questions! Let me know if you have any more and good luck! You will love it.

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5 thoughts on “North American Language and Culture Assistants/Auxiliares Q&A Part 3

  1. evearielle says:

    It’s so sweet of you to answer all these questions for everyone–definitely a good source of info. And thanks so much for meeting with us last night! You did a good job of not scaring us away and we are actually really excited about our placement now.

    • Jessica Hoolko says:

      It was my pleasure! I feel like I should thank you for listening to me talk for so long! Let me know if you guys have any other questions or concerns or anything before you leave. You’re going to have an awesome year!

      Oh! and I thought of something I forgot to mention: For the high school kids, “typical high school things” like yearbooks, prom photos, etc. are really good. I never had any with me, but they are really interested in that kind of stuff. Tell Ben! 🙂

  2. Ben Raznick says:

    JESSICA YOU ROCK we had a blast meeting up. We’ll keep you updated for sure! Rock on in San Fran, my trip there was awesome. Saludos a Marshall.

  3. Dave Morrison says:

    Thank you for posting this information! I’m headed to Baeza for the same program this year and this is all very helpful.

    • Jessica Hoolko says:

      You are very welcome! I am glad that someone found it helpful. I know there is not too much info out there on Baeza. I hope you’re enjoying it, I’ve been really missing tapas from those little bars on c/ San Pablo and the madalenas from the bakery on the corner of c/ de corzar. Say hi to those places for me!!

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