Written by Elle
By the time we decided to become auxiliares, it was the middle of January and the submission window had already opened. We hurried to get our documents printed and ready, and asked our bosses for letters of recommendation. As we waited (im)patiently for those elusive letters, we prioritized our region preferences based on the lovely blog entries of auxiliares past (thank you youngadventuress and wayfaringwanders !) We all knew that our number one pref was to be somewhere “smaller and less touristy”. Also, coming from the PNW, we were wooed by the climates of the north (except for maybe Karrie, who can withstand/enjoy heat more than any human I know). We made our individual lists (more lists! Shock and awe!), and compared them one night, hoping for even a couple to line up.
Lo and behold, La Rioja and Galicia were top three in each of our four lists! Major sigh of relief! We quickly decided to apply in the following order (the application has a preference section for your top three):
1) La Rioja: For so many reasons! Size: A small region, hence more chance of living/working close to one another. Language: They speak “traditional” (read: easy) Spanish that is simpler to understand and learn. Food & Drink: La Rioja is known for wine, wine and more wine! They are also known to have some of the best food in the country in their famous pinchos restaurants.
2) Galicia: For the gorgeous green landscapes, the cooler climate, the oceans, and the mountains! A piece of home in Spain.
3) Madrid: our backup plan, for the purpose of likely getting placed there together if there weren’t enough spots in our first two choices.
When the letters of recommendation came, we jumped on our computers and applied for the program together, triple checking that we put one another’s names in the “wish to be placed with” section. After pressing the scary “submit” button, we were fairly happy with our inscrita numbers of 2438, 2439, and 2440. We had read that numbers under 4000 are pretty much guaranteed to get placed, so we should be good to go! We mailed our application and materials in one fat, stuffed envelope to make it even more clear that all three of us wanted to be placed together (with B coming along for the ride of course!).
The waiting period commenced and we went about our days teaching, banking, piloting, and pathologizing ( SLP-ing?). We got together often to talk about how hopeful and anxious we all were about our Spanish futures. Karrie and Brian kept well up-to-date on the helpful/annoying auxililares facebook page, and excitedly shared the news in mid-May that people were starting to get placed. Upon hearing this latest news, we started checking our phones for emails like teenage girls waiting for their boyfriends to text back!
Then, one glorious morning in May, I heard my phone buzz away with phone calls and texts while teaching a lesson about the rainforest. I gave my kindergartners (most of) my attention for the next 30 minutes until it was lunchtime, then rushed back to my classroom to check my phone. Both Brian and Karrie had been blowin’ it up with the BEST news! Karrie and Mike had been placed together!! OMG! (Karrie had taken the day off so her and B-Rizz had already celebrated/freaked out together at her apartment as they waited to hear back from me to see if I had gotten placed in the same region). Well, one quick click into gmail showed me that the answer was YES! Of course it was yes! Lady luck had shined on us time and time again. And in true lucky fashion, we all got placed in La Rioja!! I squealed from my desk as I called B to let him know, and couldn’t wait to celebrate when I got home that evening.
That night we sat in the courtyard by the fireplace and toasted a bottle of La Rioja wine that we had been saving since applying back in January, feeling incredibly happy, relieved, excited, and lucky.
About two weeks later we received our “cartas”: letters with the names and locations of our schools. Karrie got one secondary school in Calahorra, Mike got two elementaries way out in the tiny villages of Alfaro and Aldeanueva de Ebro, and I was lucky enough to get two elementary schools in Logroño, the capital city where we are all hoping to live. Though there was nearly an hour separating our schools, we were still so happy to be “close” in La Rioja. Now, it was time to apply for the VISAS…oh boy.