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By Mariska Bosman 

And so the adventure begins… I posted these words on Facebook abouteachabroadt ten days ago. And what an adventure indeed it has been so far!

Thanks to the Trinity CertTESOL course I took with TEFL in Spain earlier this year, I can now call myself an English teacher. However, being able to call yourself one and actually being one are two different things, so here we are: job hunting in Málaga!

After I have settled into my temporary apartment for the next couple of weeks, I arrange for a meeting with Vana Panayotatou, the Careers Advisor at TEFL in Spain. I had already gotten to know her back in May and we have been in contact about me coming back to Málaga. This appointment is to get my CV in order and discuss possibilities and strategies.

vanamariskaNext step: applying for jobs. Vana runs a closed Facebook group for TEFL in Spain graduates where she posts vacancies that she knows of, so that makes for a good starting point. I decide to react to one of the posts that appeals to me. It mentions a phone number for further information. I call, a bit nervous. Trrr, trrr, trrr… until I hear a cheerful “¡Hola!” The lady on the other end of the line only speaks Spanish… I’ve only been here a few days and my Spanish is not at all back up to what it once was, but I manage to make myself understood and get to send my CV! What’s more, within minutes she phones me back and invites me for an interview the next morning. I can’t suppress a little victory dance around the table (ok, not literally around the table as one side is pushed up against the wall, but you get the picture ;-)). Wow, I think to myself, now that I’ve got the hang of this, I may as well send my CV to an e-mail address on a different post before packing my bag to head off to the beach for a quick hour of late summer sunshine. Guess what? By the time I’ve spread out my towel on the warm Malagueta sand, I hear the sound of my old Nokia, which I’ve put back in use with a Spanish number, and it’s the lady from the second academy! In English this time: “Would you be available for an interview tomorrow?” Of courrrrse!

Two interviews in one day! First hurdle taken!

On to the next one: what does one wear to interviews in Spain? I can hardly show up in shorts solely for temperature reasons. I put on long trousers to go with a nice blouse and make sure I leave plenty of time to walk to the academy. On the shady side of the streets, of course. It’s close to mid-day and the heat is only just below sweltering. In my mind I keep repeating the words of a song my camino friend Joanne used to sing when we were walking the dusty paths to Santiago: Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun. Ok- mad dogs, Englishmen and Dutch women in this case.

I arrive twenty minutes early and use that time to cool off, because the last thing you want is to burst out in sweat when you’re in an interview. At five to twelve, I ring the doorbell and the woman opens. I haven’t quite figured out yet how to go about the rules for kissing in Spain but I certainly hadn’t expected the two kisses on the cheeks by the person interviewing me. But, hey, we’re in Spain, why not? “Oh, and by the way”, she says,“is it alright if we do the interview in Spanish?” Erm, I guess we have to if she doesn’t speak any English? A good hour and a lot of confusion later – I couldn’t avoid a bit of sweat to go with the speaking in Spanish… ? – we end the interview and I automatically extend my hand for a handshake but she’s faster with her two kisses, and there’s this awkward moment of not knowing what’s going on. We end up shaking hands. Note to self: get used to kissing!

When I come home I type out everything we’ve discussed, because I have a feeling there will be more posts, phone conversations and interviews in the upcoming days. So if I want to keep track of what I’m doing I will have to get some sort of administration in place. Meanwhile I look up the address of my next interview. It’s at the west end of Málaga.

mariskabiciHey, this is where my Málaga bici card for the bike sharing system comes in handy! There’s a bike station around the corner from where I live and – looking at the map – there should be one about a 7-minute walk away from the academy where I’ll be having my next interview.

That’s not on until early evening so there’s a bit of time to go for a quick coffee with Gemma, a new friend in town. She’s also an English teacher looking for a job. I hop on the blue-and-white bike and meet her at the waterfront. We exchange experiences and after a nice chat, I allow for enough time to get back home, get changed and get on my bike to the academy. Or so I think. Wrongly.

What I forget to take into consideration is that bike stations can be full.And where do you go with your bike in that case? I don’t have the map with bike stations on me and my Nokia doesn’t do internet. Mmm, bit stuck here. I suppose that my best bet is to just follow the cycle path and hope *fingers crossed* that the next bike station is not too far from where I am.

However, during the next ten minutes cycling further up north, there’s no bike station to be found. And if I did find one up here, it would take forever to walk back home. So, I turn around and cycle in the opposite direction to the closest other bike station I know. I’m almost three quarters of an hour behind schedule now and there’s no way I will make it in time to the interview if I stick to my original cycling plan. It’s time for a plan B. What could it be?

I look around to find myself close to a taxi stand and arrange with one of the drivers to meet me at 6 pm outside my apartment. Then I rush home *hot hot hot*, get changed and rush out again to meet the taxi driver. But he isn’t there! Ok, I may have been 1 minute late, but ten minutes later, still no taxi. I can’t wait any longer, so I walk across the bridge to another taxi stand to only see one taxi. I have visions of this last taxi driving off just before my eyes and I come flapping down the street *sweat sweat sweat* and… yes, the taxi plan works! We drive off and then I walk into the academy 5 minutes early, aircon-cooled down and all relaxed!

Handshaking instead of kissing here and the lady has perfect English. So far so good. However, next thing, she warns me that this interview is going to be a bit different. How different can interviews be?, I think when we walk into a meeting room. I soon find out. Her business partner is stuck in traffic and will hold her part of the interview via the speaker of her phone. And since the lady is the only one available to attend the reception desk, she may have to walk out when a client walks in. I will spare you further details, but at one point I’m talking on the phone with her business partner when her husband brings in their child because the babysitter couldn’t make it… And then, time’s up and another candidate is waiting to be interviewed. “¡Hasta luego!”

It’s early evening. The beach is nearby. Time to slow down.

I look out over the sea and enjoy the last rays of sunshine. What a crazy day it has been!

Landing a job in Málaga? I have yet to do so, but I’ve certainly landed myself. In adventure land ?


3 weeks later…

After this interesting first experience three weeks ago, I’m very happy to be able to let you know that I’ve now found two part time positions with professional academies that are going to keep me busy Mondays to Thursdays until mid-June 2017! The adventure continues…

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