Hey my name’s Laura and I am what I consider to be a typical 24-year-old girl from Glasgow in Scotland, except I am currently living and working as a TEFL teacher in Madrid, Spain. How did I get here? Good question, I went through all the typical modes of education, nursery to primary, primary to high school, high school to university and then . . . I hopped on a plane and moved country!
There were many factors that led to this decision, the main one being I graduated from university and for the first time in my life had absolutely no idea what I was going to do next. To say I freaked out and made a rash decision would be an understatement. I don’t think I realised what I was doing until the moment I was waving goodbye to my family and friends and walking through the security gate at the airport, the point of no return!
And thank god I did, almost three years later I am still here and loving every minute of it! I never intended on setting up a life in Spain, it was only ever a temporary plan for me until I grew up a little bit more and came to terms with the fact that I needed to find a “grown up” career path. In the beginning I set myself the goal of staying for a year, and to be honest in the first couple of months that was what kept me here, as it was not as easy as I had first thought. I had done an Erasmus period abroad for 6 months in a small town in the south of Spain and thought, well if I can do that and have a great time, then what’s a year in a capital city? I laugh at how naive I was as I write this! It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy Madrid, but going from the expectations of another year of the Erasmus lifestyle to the reality of a year of real life and work was a bit of a shock to the system.
I completed my TEFL course at TtMadrid and started to work literally the following Monday. I was running around all over Madrid going to interviews here, there and everywhere for a pick and mix of different types of positions. Before I knew it I had a full schedule and was a real-life teacher, something that took me a while to get my head around, I couldn’t believe the nervous girl from uni that shook like a leaf and blanked out when having to give presentations had turned into a confident teacher in control of a classroom after just a month of preparation and training.
Before I knew it a year had flown by and I was nowhere near ready to go home so I made the decision to stay until Christmas time; Christmas time turned into summer, and summer turned into another year. It really is true what they say . . . time flies when you’re enjoying yourself! Finally, last year I decided it was time to go home and start this so-called grown up career I was looking for, so I applied to do a PGCE in Primary Education in Glasgow and sailed through the interview process with all the experience I now had. I remember the day so clearly when I received the email—I was in class and didn’t want to open it until I had finished for the day, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Finally I opened the email and I had been accepted, my heart sank. I was so surprised by my reaction I wasn’t expecting it at all. That was when I realised I wasn’t ready to leave behind this wonderful life I had built up for myself, this amazing country with all its culture and life, the place I now considered home.
I debated over my decision until the very last possible moment and finally went with my gut feeling and decided yet again to stay. Now all I had to do was tell people at home! My decision was not a massive surprise to everyone as, let’s be honest, it wasn’t the first or even the second time I had broken this news, but this time it wasn’t very well received. My friends and family thought I was crazy to give up the opportunity, but I felt happy in my decision and excited about the prospect of another year of la vida loca! A couple of months later I was offered a position at an academy I previously worked for as a sort of head teacher/assistant manager role which I will be starting this September and I can’t wait! Somehow in this whirlwind of a journey I have managed to set up an amazing lifestyle in a country that I believe really suits me and I genuinely can see me calling home for years to come and find the “grown up” career I was looking for. I’m excited about the future and what’s around the corner for me and everyday I’m thankful I hopped on that plane without a second thought, it was easily the best decision I’ve ever made! So I guess if you can take anything from my story it should be do what you feel is right for you and take risks every now and again. Moving country and changing career is scary but I promise you won’t regret it.
How should you do this? TtMadrid. If it wasn’t for TtMadrid my journey would have been a thousand times harder. They help you every step of the way with absolutely anything and everything you might need and three years on I can still count on them for anything I need. They are not just a school, they’re like a family unit, and that’s something really valuable when you’re so many thousands of miles away from yours!
My last year in university was moving full speed ahead with no stops in sight. During Christmas vacation of that last year I received countless questions about my future: “You’re almost done! So what are your plans after graduation?” “Do you have a job lined up yet?” “Do you think you will find something in this economy?” All to which I had no response. Great. I was a 22-year-old double Spanish and Foreign Affairs major with no game plan.
After some serious thinking and multiple conversations with friends and family, I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life but I had a better idea of where I wanted to start: teaching English.
First of all, I already had a very informal background in teaching ESL during university. Through a volunteer program at my school, a group of us would tutor migrant workers in rural parts of Virginia a few days a week. Even through this minimal exposure to teaching I knew how rewarding sharing knowledge—especially something like a language that we often take for granted—could be.
Secondly, I did some research and talked to people with experience. This is where TtMadrid was very helpful as well. The demand for English is greater than ever, even in crisis-stricken countries like Spain. While the level of demand fluctuates depending on the month, being a native English speaker will constantly provide you with job opportunities. You will not go hungry teaching English in Spain, especially with a TEFL course on your CV.
And lastly, I never planned on making a career out of teaching, but I knew before coming to Madrid that teaching English would be a way to expose myself to a variety of people and careers. As I mentioned, the demand for ESL teachers is almost insatiable here. Due to this, you will encounter the widest variety of people and professions. Being a recent graduate, I knew I wanted more contact with the “real world” before I started pursuing my long-term career. Even if teaching English isn’t what you want to do long term, it may very well help you to get a better idea of what you DO want to do.
I currently teach in-company classes at Deloitte and Thyseenkrupp Elevators, as well as private classes with doctors, lawyers, financial advisors, and accountants. In the past year I have learned an incredible amount, not only about teaching, but also about the job profile of many different sectors. I love the constant change and challenge of teaching English to this array of professionals.