Living in Spain is like going back to college. You work sort-of hard during the year until summertime, at which point you get a part time job, party until the sun comes up, spend hours at the beach, and go on vacation for a minimum of four weeks. Businesses operate under summer hours, meaning elongated siestas to avoid the heat. And the entire country essentially stops functioning for the month of August to go on vacation (or “holiday,” considering the rest of Europe also takes part in this awesome ritual). Needless to say, moving to Spain in late spring, just in time to experience the summer, has been a beautiful transition back into the workforce.
One of the primary reasons we chose Spain is to dedicate time and energy into growing our experiential travel business (which we’ll be relaunching in the coming days). Along with public benefits (including virtually free healthcare), Spain offers a very low cost of living, giving us the flexibility to work less than 20 hours a week and still focus on designing incredible travel experiences for our customers. That being said, we were both very eager to land a job in Valencia, not so much for the pay, but more for the opportunity to be a part of the community, be challenged, and meet new friends.
Mission accomplished. For the past three weeks, we’ve been teaching little Spanish kiddos at a local English Academy. The summer program is four weeks total (it ends just in time for that August holiday) so we’ve been working Monday-Friday for four hours each day. With a newfound respect for our friends and family who are accredited and professional long-term educators, we step into our (still temporary) apartment every day at 1pm, completely exhausted and with songs like “hello, how are you” and “what do you like to do in the summer” permanently lodged in our minds. Unable to break the late dinner + wine and bed at midnight habit, we’re also now officially experts at siesta-ing (that didn’t take long!). The experience has been incredible and has reminded us how refreshing, inspiring, and flat-out fun it is to spend time with kids. Especially the adorable, inquisitive and mostly well-behaved Spanish ones.
As these things usually go, the job has also led to meeting a handful of awesome people, a new friendship and a job contract (11-15 hours) for nine months starting in September. It’s a perfect scenario and we’re starting to get a glimpse as to what life here will look like long-term.
Now we’re concentrating on nailing down an apartment (we’ve looked at a million and have had three legitimately fall through); desperately hoping this is something we can accomplish before August when the city empties out and we hunker down to work on Cohica. And we’re working on getting Ryan residency, which means more meetings, paperwork, and Spanish bureaucracy, so he can legally work in the fall and won’t be deported when his 3-month visa expires in a few weeks.
The part-time work schedule is quite a departure from both of our previous professional lives, which is perfect for us right now. Ultimately, we hope that Spain can provide the flexibility, balance, lifestyle, and time with one another that we’re looking for.