Teaching is both a demanding and rewarding occupation. When teaching cross-culturally, the demands and rewards are both multiplied!
ECA is nestled in an agricultural valley in the town of Camarma de Esteruelas, located 20 miles NE of Madrid. Camarma boasts a population of 3,500, and maintains the "pueblo" feel of life in rural Spain.
Most of ECA’s staff live within 5 miles of the school, and come to work either by bike, car, or public transportation. Bus service to our town of Camarma is both safe and reliable. The town of Alcalá de Henares is only 5 miles away, with an estimated population of 200,000. Public transportation, grocery shopping, sight seeing – all can be done with ease, and while a basic knowledge of Spanish is helpful, it is not necessary.
Downtown Madrid is only 45 minutes away by train, where one can enjoy the sights and sounds of big city life. While life in Madrid is modern and convenient, one still faces the challenges of living in a cross-cultural context.
Is living in Spain difficult? Yes and no. Certainly one can find anything as far as modern conveniences, opportunity to travel, culinary options, and entertainment. The difficulty comes in feeling a part of Spanish culture and even understanding at times how and why others think the way they do. Most people find that the first 3-5 months are almost a "romance" with the culture and history of a European country. But that begins to fade and, as it does, the feeling of "Am I ever going to understand or be understood?" becomes an issue. Those working at ECA for a year or two will find that a couple of hours each week with a Spanish tutor or friend to focus on language and cultural adaptation will be a HUGE help. The danger of focussing completely on teaching responsibilities should be obvious, as it closes the door to possible ministries, friendships, and real life in a foreign country without which one can never really appreciate or adapt. Many teachers find that one year is not enough to begin to feel a part of life in Spain. A second year is rich with meaning as cultural connections, friendships and understanding deepen.