Any advice for living in a small town?

I've been placed in Carnota in Galicia in Spain and whilst it looks like a beautiful town, it's incredibly small and seems to be in the middle of nowhere. I'm worried I won't meet other assistants or people my age and therefore become quite lonely when I'm not travelling to other parts of Spain. Anyone have any tips or advice about living in a very small town?

This question was asked by Alexandra Humphries , asked on 19th August 2014 and has been read 2033 times.

  • Bogi Szabo · 5 years ago

    Make the most of the local area - for example Carnota has a beautiful beach! You can try a new sport like surfing or paddleboarding which will occupy your free time. You're bound to meet people your age - just make sure you do your best to go to places and talk to people, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone. And of course, go on as many day trips as you can and visit other nearby places, even if it's other small towns in the area etc. If the public transport is poor, you can try finding a ride on car-sharing websites. Good luck!

  • Asha Mistry · 5 years ago

    I was in exactly the same situation last year. I found out I was going to be teaching in a village in Spain in the middle of nowhere and was so scared. But don't be! I emailed the headteacher and she told me that all the teachers commute from a small town.

    My advice to you is to try and find a host family to stay with. Ask your school if they know anyone interested. It will improve your Spanish no ends and they will help when you're first settling in. They helped me to meet their friends and neighbours whose children were roughly my age. Then I managed to meet 2 other assistants in the area from USA through some of the teachers. 

    So you don't get lonely, pick up a part time job (I chose to give private English classes) or do an evening class (learn to dance Salsa or cook Spanish cuisine).

    And apart from that, travel, travel and travel. Even if it is by yourself to meet a friend in a big city. Do it! 

    Hope this helps!

  • Anonymous Answer · 5 years ago

    Hi! 

    I had exactly the same in Madrid... I was working in a school in a very small town/village about 45 mins North of the City. 

    I asked my Head of Department about living arrangements, and she advised me to live in Madrid and commute out every day. I chose to follow her advice, and was very happy in my flat in the centre, but the 2 or 2.5 hour commute (by public transport) each way wasn't the most fun. I managed to make the most of the travel time by reading/organising future classes, and was lucky to occasionally be offered a lift back to Madrid with a fellow teacher who was driving that way. 

    Aside from the commute, I am still grateful I chose to live where I did and with the 2 Spanish girls who became very close friends of mine. The commute became one of its only disadvantages. I was working 4 days a week so that meant the commute was limited to those days, and for the weekend or downtime, I was in Madrid with all my friends and all the amenities the Capital has to offer. 

    That said, I had friends who were placed in smaller, rural towns and they managed to fully integrate themselves within their communities, becoming surrogate daughters to some welcoming families, being invited away for weekends with groups of teachers, and immersing themselves in a completely different experience. 

    Therefore, the recommendation I'd offer would be to consider what you want to get from your YA, and speak to staff/previous employees before you travel. If, like I was, you are apprehensive about moving abroad and want to make sure there were distractions (such as multiple bars/restaurants/cinemas) then I'd recommend a larger city and a commute. I wanted there to be a opportunities to meet other English people abroad given that I was speaking Spanish at work and at home, but I also love the buzz of a large city, and was looking for that aspect of life when I was deciding where to live. However, my friends from the rural placements have returned with such fluency and long-time friends, established from time immersed in a smaller, more close-knit community, so there are benefits all round. Read up about the region, and visit the area if at all possible before you make a full decision. 

    Best of luck, you'll have the best time. I had the best year of my life, and wish I could do it all over again! 

  • Lauren Stevens · 5 years ago

    • Try to live with a native. This is key to improving your Spanish and finding a social group. You don't have this opportunity if you live with an English speaker and perhaps puts too much pressure on your English social group.
    • Try to integrate into the local community. Be confident speaking the foreign language, make an effort to socialise with your colleagues, go to cafés and bars (even if that means going alone) and look for other students in your area. At first it may be difficult and feel impossible to make friends, but keep trying and you'll find some eventually!
    • Don't worry about how much Spanish you can speak. If you can only speak little or no Spanish, don't worry. It will come naturally once you arrive and you will start picking up more. People are generally quite patient with people who aren't fluent in Spanish because there is probably already such a mix of different cultures and languages within the city.

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