Tag Archives: Jaén

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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North American Language and Culture Assistants/Auxiliares Q&A Part 2

Here is another question/answer session with a soon-to-be auxiliar!

Hi, just found your name on the Expat cafe…and thanks for the offer to answer questions, super! Hereby mine: what can you tell about Bailen and Jaén-capital? Distances, places themselves, general opinion, etc….thanks a lot for your time!!!

I am sorry to say that I never actually went to Bailen while I was in Andalucía, so I’m afraid I can’t tell you anything about it! Jaén capital, on the other hand, I did visit quite a bit, so I can give you my two cents on that.

Jaén is about one hour from Granada on a bus, and that is how I first arrived. My first impression was bad. I arrived at night, all alone, with tons of luggage and no idea where I was going. Jaén is not a big tourist town, so you can’t just show up and expect to find a hotel. Anyways, the point is, it may look a little ugly at first, but there are some really nice parts of the city and there are a lot of auxiliars there.

Tapas are free in Jaén, just like they are in Granada, so there are a lot of great tapas bars, and there is an awesom area near the cathedral that is really pretty with narrow, winding streets filled with bars and cafes. It is a lot like some of the old areas in other Spanish cities, but without the tourists! There is also a university in Jaén, so there are a lot of young people there, as well as Erasmus students. I think last year auxiliars were allowed to take Spanish classes at the university for free too.

All of the auxiliars I knew in Jaén really liked it. It’s not super glamorous or big or anything, but the people there are so so nice, and you really do get to experience a tourist-free part of Spain. It is also so cheap in the lesser known parts of Spain, so everything will be really affordable in all parts of Jaén province! Check out www.alsa.com for information on buses in the area. They don’t list everything on there, and there are a few other bus companies that go to Jaén, but for the most part it’s a pretty comprehensive list of your transportation options. Jaén capital also has a RENFE station, I don’t know if Bailen does.

I liked Jaén, though it definitely isn’t as nice as Granada or Sevilla or anything. Try getting in touch with people through Expat Café or Facebook to see if you can stay with some returning auxiliars before deciding where you’re going to live, or you could always couchsurf with a local! That was what I did the second time I went to Jaén and it was soooooo much more fun. I think it’s important to have someone who knows the place to show you around so you actually see the good stuff! Also, beware the accent! If you haven’t been to Andalucía before, the jienense accent might be a little tough to understand! You’ll get used to it!

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“Influential farmers’ group Asaja recently said that 40 percent of the olive crop has been lost in southerly Jaen province, which alone produces more oil than any other country bar Spain itself and Italy.

February this year was the wettest in 30 years in Spain and heavy rains caused severe flooding as many rivers burst their banks in southern Spain.”

“Spain Output Rises,” Olive Oil Times, March 20, 2010

Glad I stayed down there just long enough to catch the WETTEST FEBRUARY THE COUNTRY HAS SEEN IN 30 YEARS. And yes, there really is an Olive Oil Times.

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Hmm. Jaén. What to say about my first impression of Jaén….well, let’s sum it up with a little story. Here it goes: I got off the bus in Jaén, and immediately stepped into a pile of brightly colored vomit composed entirely of gazpacho. The end.

That was my first experience in the province I now call home. I also couldn’t find the taxi line at the bus station because of a lot of construction going on in the area, so I needlessly wandered around the block a couple times in the dark with all of my luggage, further weakening my soul. Oh, and then my hostel was literally the creepiest hostel in the entire world. It actually was really nice, but it was too nice for Jaén. I hate to break it to the city, but they are never going to have enough young people visiting to fill up that youth hostel. It was a really, really nicely renovated hospital complete with pool and spa, dining room, private bathrooms, etc., etc., etc., but honestly, there were like three people there in a building built for like 5 million. It was like staying in an abandoned hospital. Because that is literally what it was. Anyways, I cried a little teensy, teensy bit. Luckily I had been in touch with an auxiliar in Úbeda who said I could stay at his apartment the next night, so after a brief walk around the blah city the next morning, I was out of there.

Before I get into Úbeda though, let me do Jaén justice. I went back about a week later for orientation and I stayed with some really lovely returning auxiliars who knew their way around the city. My experience in Jaén the second time around was completely different. I actually really enjoyed myself and the city. It’s rather pretty in parts, has some great tapas bars and cafes, and is populated by some really nice people. My third time there, to get my NIE, only affirmed this more positive impression. So Jaén, I am sorry for judging you so harshly. You are kind of cool, and I am really happy that you have a Zara and an El Corte Inglés… but Granada is still cooler. Sorry.

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