“One man’s meat is another man’s poison”. Perhaps this old proverb best encapsulates the main principle we need to take into account when deciding where to live.
I remember when I went to Paris, France for my honeymoon. Many of my friends told me that it was ideal for couples and that the city was beautiful. It’s the city of love, right? The thing is, I don’t particularly like busy places or sightseeing, and I don’t care about famous buildings —I tend to enjoy more culinary or biographical trips— and if you’ve been to Paris, you know it’s crowded, busy and dirty. My wife, however, likes anything related to trying new things —discovering new places, new food, new experiences— so she was perfectly content. Why am I telling you about my honeymoon? Because my friends’ meat was my poison.
When looking for a place to live, you need to be honest and know yourself. What is your temperament or personality? Are you an introvert or extrovert? Do you find nature energizing? Or do you prefer bustling streets? Are you the type of person who does not care where you are as long as you have great company (and food!)? Are you a mountain lover or a beach lover? The principle, once again, is not to make ourselves match places other people love, but rather to make these places match our temperament or personality as much as we can. Because what one person may consider good, enjoyable, or beneficial may be disliked by someone else.
Obviously, as a language assistant you will have to consider many more variables in this equation than just your natural inclination and preferences. The following key aspects to consider will help you in this process.
1. Village-lover vs City-lover?
In this aspect, there might be two potential scenarios: (a) your school is located in the city center, or (b) your school is located in a small village. In scenario “a”, if you are a city-lover then that is perfect, but if you are not, you are not doomed. You could always choose to live in the outskirts or in a village well-connected to the school. In scenario “b”, if you are disappointed that your school placement is in a town, you could always commute from the city. This is typically not a bad option, since from the city you will likely have several options to commute to different villages.
2. How far is too far?
Depending on where you are placed, you might discover that your school is located in a small town and you really want to live in the city. In this situation, you need to ask yourself how much you love or hate commuting. Some people love it because they watch a show, read books, video chat with friends and family, or just nap. Others hate it, because they feel the cannot do anything at all and they feel their existence is wasted (dramatic, I know, but true). Living near the school and doing excursions into the city on the weekend might be a nice compromise if you hate to commute. If you don’t mind commuting then you can choose something halfway or a bit further.
3. Couch potato or activity junkie?
If you are the type of person who needs to always be doing something and are easily bored, then you really need to be in the city! More activities, more people, more places to see! But if you are the type of person who likes to chill and not do much during the week and leave the fun for the weekend, then not living close to the city might not be a big deal for you. After all, Netflix and chill is not bad at all…
4. Can money buy you happiness in Spain?
Whoever said that money can’t buy you happiness is right, but forgot to add “…nor does poverty”. Fair enough, money can’t buy happiness, but it helps, especially being in Spain. The topic of money as a language assistant is tricky. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on anything, then you need to be wise about it. For example, if traveling and eating out is the most important thing for you, then maybe it would be better to cut down cost on the apartment by looking for a cheaper option or maybe just renting a room instead. If for you where you live is a big deal, then maybe cut down on eating out or traveling. You could always cook more at home. It is all about spending on what adds the most value to you, and knowing what your priorities are.
I hope this article helps you understand yourself a bit more when it comes to deciding where to live. Remember to find your “meat” (or “tofu” for my vegan people out there!) in order to avoid the “poison”.
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