The last day I went to the school it rained. Someone said it was because Barcelona was sad we were leaving. But…it absolutely poured on my first day at the school too so let’s not go far with that metaphor. It’s been a journey and I have learned a lot. In fact I would like to share some of that. If you are reading this post because you are going to Spain next year, this is the post for you! Here’s my pro tips for TAB in Spain:
12. As you may have gathered above, it will likely rain while you are there. When it does, it doesn’t rain hard for very long but that’s usually because there is no more water left! It can come down like a curtain, so pack a rain jacket but also a rain cover for your backpack.
11. I know I talked about food already but here we go again. If you want more authentic food, here’s some tips to avoid tourist traps. It is not uncommon for menus to have multiple languages but if you see pictures of the food, it’s for tourists. Locals know what their food looks like already!
10. If you want to buy something in a very tourist-y area (such as Las Ramblas), try walking a bit away from the crowd and you’ll likely find lower prices for very similar things. Not just souvenirs but food and even flamenco shows as well.
9. Don't be afraid to do some searching for cheaper utilities. Some ATMs don't charge fees and some places sell very cheap SIM cards. Shop around.
8. Planning on going to see something in Barcelona? Look it up online first. A lot of places require reservations particularly if they are tourist destination. Most restaurants are walk-in but if you want paella or go someplace special (such as a cat café), you’ll be better off booking.
7. But beware! Some of these websites are designed to make you buy tickets for things you may not need to pay for. Buy a ticket for a museum online for example, but if you want an electronic audio guide, pay for it there. If you are really uncertain go early but expect to buy a ticket for later.
6. Almost all museums, churches and tourist destinations have free entrance at certain times and days. It will be very busy at those free times however.
5. Explore but keep informed! Air travel is very cheap in Europe so you can travel to different places easily. But look up what is going on in Barcelona during those times. You don’t want to miss La Merce and it’s nice to know when the chestnut festival is going on.
4. Don’t forget you’re going there to be a teacher too! Work with your partner teachers but keep in mind the students are going to love whatever you plan. You’re an exciting Canadian to them!
3. Don’t worry about speaking English “wrong.” Spanish is very structured so English is taught to students making connections to that structure. Students may understand the rules of English better than you but as a native speaker you have intuition. English is much more malleable and students want to hear how you (mis)use the language.
2. The teachers and students may be familiar with unusual vocabulary than we expect. Often this is because there is an easy direct translation from Catalan or Spanish or because they are using a British variant. Let them know what we say in Canada! It’s not that one is more correct than the other but it’s unique to the culture.
1. Speak their language too! For every sigh, correction or annoyed switch to English, I’ve encountered five people that are excited to hear you speak to them. You will get better service at restaurants, instant connections with students and you will gain a better appreciation for new language users.