Meet Anna, a Kiwi expat living as an auxiliar de conversacion in Seville, Spain.
How did you come to be an auxiliar de conversacion in Seville?
To cut a long story short, I had to leave full-time work in NZ due to a chronic pain condition in my arms. As soon as I resigned, I knew it was the perfect time to do the auxiliar de conversacion programme, which I had seen advertised at university.
It’s the same programme that you (me, Liz) do! It’s in 90% of Spain and is a wonderful and easy way for NZers (and Aussies, Canadians and USA-ians) to come to Spain. It involves working 12 hours a week in a school as a language assistant, supporting the teachers that give classes in English. Here’s the link.
I’ve enjoyed it so much that I’ve signed on do it again, this time in Palma de Mallorca!
How do you find living overseas on your own?
I adore living overseas and the idea of moving to a city where I knew no one was beyond exciting. It’s the biggest, freshest, greenest new leaf anyone can ever have. In 2008 I spent a year on high school exchange in Argentina so it’s not my first time doing this kinda thing but there’s a lot more support in those programmes (Rotary, AFS etc.).
Finding a flat and getting a bank account wasn’t hard – but wasn’t particularly fun. I landed a phenomenal (albeit old and mostly broken) flat but got conned into paying the bank 50 euro to join (RIP). But these are just things you know you have to do in a new country: best to just get them over and done with ASAP.
What are some of your favourite spots in Seville?
La Bicicleteria, a smoked-out bar full of attitude, sweet music, and bike paraphernalia (Calle Feria).
Red House Café is a café with excellent art and an eclectic mix of couches.
Los Coloniales for the tastiest and cheapest tapas – do NOT miss the pluma iberica – some kind of pork cut of which I could easily inhale three kilos.
The Giralda, which is the Cathedral’s tower – you can see all across town and into people’s rooftops. Rooftop life fascinates me beyond reason.
Calle Betis, the riverside walk on the Triana side of town.
What do you miss most about home?
Asian food, cats, racial diversity, friends, family, the BYO scene.
Worst thing about living there?
Hardly any options for Asian food, little appreciation for cats. Going for hill walks and seeing non-planted nature. Customer service and paperwork.
I really don’t have anything serious to complain about. In my first few months, I was often frustrated by cultural differences: the Spanish can be quite blunt and office hours are from 9-2, including banks. But I’ve adjusted; I make sure I always have something to read or listen to when waiting in line and don’t complain anymore.
Best thing about living abroad?
Simply living my dream.
In New Zealand I was constantly saving and daydreaming about travelling and living abroad; there is nothing I value more. It’s amazing finally being here but time is flying!
Also: seeing the world. Meeting new people. Being in the sun. Learning, learning, learning.
Oh, and Sephora. And Zara and Mango, both which are Spanish brands and whose clothes are ridiculously well priced here.
How would you recommend spending a weekend in Seville?
Have lunch somewhere outside in the sun and order the menu del dia (€10ish).
Wind back towards the city centre and knock out the huge cathedral, its tower (the aforementioned Giralda (€8)) then meander across the square to the Royal Alcázar of Seville: the royal gardens (€8/€3 student/under 25). Sit, read, chat, eat.
If you’re shopping-inclined, pop down Calle Sierpes for the likes of Zara, H&M, Mango, Sephora etc.
Rest. Head over to T de Triana on Calle Betis for free flamenco (well, get a drink, come on – €2) around 10pm. Have tapas on the river (€8-15).
Wake late. Set out for a good wander around the historic Jewish neighbourhood of Barrio Santa Cruz, cross the bridge, and continue a leisurely meander through Triana. Lunch. Take it easy; stop for regular breaks to just enjoy the view.
If you enjoy historic bits and bobs, spend an hour and a half at the Casa de Pilatos, a huge old family mansion-palace in the centre (€8 including a guided tour).
Go up on top of the huge wooden structure in the centre – Las Setas (because they look like mushrooms) and watch the sun set (€3 including a drink).
Head out around 8:30 for a beer or tinto de verano (red wine + lemonade) at Iglesia del Salvador, tapas at The Room and/or Arte & Sabor and/or Casa Paco and bar hop down Alameda de Hercules, a big strip of bars and clubs. Stay late!
When I arrived, I spent a week staying at Triana Backpackers and would recommend it in a heartbeat: great big rooms, lockers, wonderful staff, €3 paella nights, a beautiful, gardened rooftop with a Jacuzzi which is COLD in the hot months!
What’s the best experience you’ve had in Seville?
To be honest, I can’t pick just one. Simply being able to live here is The Best in itself. It’s almost always sunny (even winter was short and hardly rainy compared to ol’ Wellington), food is excellent and cheap, and I’ve met some really wonderful people. I was lucky to be placed in a great primary school and enjoy the work much more than I had anticipated. All is well, you know?
In this city, you just can’t lose.
Anna blogs about Spain part-time at Anna Likes Sangria and moreso about life and makeup at Cat and Tonic.
Jump HERE if you want to read more about Anna’s experience with the language assistant programme, and if you’re an looking at doing the auxiliar de conversacion program in Spain, comment below and let us know!