This week’s guest post comes from a fellow northern Spain blogger, coincidentally blonde and also named Liz, from Liz en España and A Midwestern Life about the kinds of people you meet when you do the auxiliar de conversación teaching program in Spain.
After being in the Auxiliar program for 2 years, you start to notice a lot of people that participate are eerily similar. For you Spain-hopefuls, I’ve broken it down into the 5 basic types of people you’re most likely to encounter during your time in Spain.
1. The Know-It-All
This person has been to Spain before, and they are more than happy to tell you about it. Maybe they studied abroad in that city, or perhaps visited it 10 years ago on vacation. Maybe it’s their 2nd year in the program. Whatever the reason, unsolicited advice is their jam. Going out for a drink? “No one would ever consider going there at this time!” Heading on a day-trip? “I think I’d be bored, you know, because I’ve already been there.” Need some Spanish tips? No need to ask, they’ll always inform you when you’ve used the subjunctive incorrectly. Don’t shut them out completely, after all, a broken clock is right twice a day.
2. The Party Animal
This is the person that packs red Solo cups in their luggage so that they’ll be able to “share their culture with the natives”. They’ll probably become a promoter for a disco wherever you’re living, so get ready for your Facebook feed to get clogged up with that junk. They’re always down to party, and will more than likely make a fool out of themselves (and you by default) by perpetuating negative stereotypes about Americans. Get ready for lots of drinking games, chugging contests, and run-ins with the local authorities.
3. The “Gone-Native”
You might meet this person at orientation, but after that, you will never see them again. Why? Because they are trying to assimilate. All Spanish roommates? Check. Only “authentic” bars/pubs/discos? Check. Status updates exclusively in Spanish (or Gallego, Euskera, or Catalá, for extra immersion points!)? Check. I’m all about getting everything I can out of living abroad, but sometimes I just need to decompress and bitch about the Spanish way of life. In English. When you run into this person at the end of the year, they’ll try and convince you they don’t remember how to speak their native language anymore.
4. The Unable to Adapt
“That’s not how we do things in ______” is this person’s motto. Egg on a hamburger? Nope. Dinner later than 5:00? Not gonna happen. Not only will you have to listen to them complain about how “weird” life is in Spain, you’ll have to hear about how “amazing” everything is back home. I’ve found it’s usually best to cut these people loose once you’ve identified them and leave them with their own kind. You (and your sanity) are better off without.
5. The Scaredy-Cat
“I heard that you have to be really careful of pickpockets in Spain, because they’ll stab you in the butt and then take your money.” I’ve actually heard someone say this. No one knows how this person actually made it to Spain, but now that they’re here, there’s no way they’re leaving their piso without their money belt and pepper spray. They’re wary of taking the metro, won’t venture into any neighborhood that’s not the city center, and cross the street when they see a gypsy. It’s very likely this person will leave halfway through the year, as their anxiety level will prevent them from doing anything.
Liz is a former Bilbao auxiliar who now resides in St. Paul, Minnesota. Since returning home, she now enjoys being able to do her laundry in less than 2 hours, and being able to wear sweatpants out of the house. Her newest blogging project is A Midwestern Life. Follow her on Twitter today!