Stephanie

Age: 25

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

School/Major: UCLA, International Development Studies

What I was doing before I moved to the island: I had just graduated with a B.A. from UCLA three months before I moved. So that summer was all about spending time with my then boyfriend, family, and friends before going to Mallorca. I was so torn about moving to Palma because I didn’t want to just leave my life in L.A. But now I don’t regret it one bit.

Schools I worked at: I worked at La Purísima, a Catholic school in Palma and IES Baltasar Porcel, a high school in Andratx. I was also in Barcelona for my 2nd year at Escola Mediterrania, a primary school.

First impressions of the island: I just thought it was so beautiful! I was staying in a hostel in the center of Palma and it’s right next to the sea and full of beautiful, old buildings.

Living situation: My roommates and I met before we arrived on the Auxiliar Facebook group. Luckily, my roommate Jenny and I found each other when we were transferring at the Madrid airport. We met Cassandra when she arrived and the three of us searched for a place together and found a four bedroom apartment after a week of searching. We lived at the bottom of Calle General Riera. There wasn’t too much happening in that area but we were close to everything. Later our friend Stephanie moved in but then found a different place. Then finally we found Yahaira! So we had an apartment of four auxiliares. We found our piso through an agency so we had to pay a lot of fees. I really wish someone had helped us with housing. We spent a lot of money on our hostel and going out to eat because we didn’t have a fridge or anything. It was super stressful but it worked out very well in the end.

Experience on the job: Overall I really loved the work I did in Spain. I worked with both high school and elementary school children and I preferred working with the younger kids. I would split my time between two schools in Mallorca. Half of the time I was at La Purísima in Palma where I mostly worked with 6-12 year olds. They really loved singing songs and doing art projects in English class. And they always had a million questions about the U.S. and my personal life. Even though watching the kids during recess wasn’t part of my job, the kids would beg me to go so I would spend my lunch hanging out with them. The girls loved to braid my hair and would fight over it sometimes. So I’d just give them different sections to braid. It was normal for me to come home with a lot of tangles!
The high school students in Andratx (a small village about 30 minutes outside of Palma) were great as well because I could talk to them about different topics and share opinions. However, some of the classes didn’t want to participate. So that was a little disheartening sometimes.
And as for the teachers, I have nothing but kind words to say. Everyone treated me so well and really tried to include me. I was especially close to Marga and Cristina, two English teachers at La Purísima. I went to visit them a year after I left and immediately started crying like a baby. I was also very close to Lola, Marga, and Manolo from IES Baltasar Porcel. I tutored Lola’s two daughters and spent a lot of time with her family. Marga was the youngest teacher and we really bonded during breaks and on car rides back to Palma. Manolo was the principal and I tutored him in English as well. Other people I knew had some negative experiences but I loved my schools. The only difficult thing I really dealt with was the language barrier. I speak Spanish and I could understand some Catalan (Mallorquin) but it took awhile for me to get to that point. So I sometimes felt a little lost when Mallorquin was spoken.

What I did in my free time: Not gonna lie, but my roommates and I binge-watched a lot of shows. I also tutored for extra money. This job gave us a lot of free time so we’d hang out at other people’s places and cook, go out to Paseo Maritimo, shop near Plaza España, eat at cheap tapas restaurants and take 1-2 hour bus rides to other parts of the island including Soller, Sa Calobra, Es Trenc, etc. There’s really so much beauty to see on the island.

Favorite drinkery: Before we’d go out dancing, we would go to Agua Bar (C/Jaume Ferre, 6). It’s run by two American guys and there was always a lot of international students there. We’d especially try to go on Thursdays because they had free wine and half off other drinks for girls until 10:30pm.

Favorite eatery: There were so many tapas bars on the Ruta Martiana on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. On these nights many tapas bars have one or two euro pinchos and really cheap beer and wine. There are so many people out and the food is really good! I also really loved to get falafel from this place around the corner from my apartment. There are many places like that throughout the city and I highly recommend having a kebab or falafel after a long weekend!

What I’m doing now: I am just starting a new job through AmeriCorps at Habitat for Humanity of Orange County. I’m working as a Volunteer Services Coordinator. I’ve been wanting to work for a non-profit like this for a long time so I’m really happy about it.

Words of wisdom:
1. The winters are actually kind of cold and slow in Mallorca so plan small trips around the island to keep busy and bring some cold weather clothing.
2. Avoid the beaches in Palma. It’s really worth it to take a bus ride to a beautiful beach with turquoise water. Cala Comtesa isn’t too far from the center and it’s really nice.
3. If you can, learn Catalan and definitely get your Spanish to a decent level. I felt that I would have had more local friends if I had spoken (and not just understood) Catalan.
4. Finally, get your immigration process going as soon as you get there. You need to get a number from that office that is necessary for you to get a bank account.

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