Imagine having 12 weeks every single year when you’re free to do whatever you want. What would you do with all that time? Would you travel and visit the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing? Would you spend days on end soaking up the sun on a beach with an ice-cold drink in your hand? Or maybe you’d spend it with friends seeking out the best rooftop terraces around town in order to find something new and exciting. In one way or another, your dream scenario probably involves something very simple: you want to have fun and enjoy your life and moving abroad could be exactly what you need.

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There’s a famous saying that people in some countries live to work, while people in others work to live. This is absolutely true and once you’ve experienced the work-to-live lifestyle I can pretty much guarantee you’ll never want to go back to anything else. I know I sure didn’t. Once I discovered that this whole other world was possible, I knew I had to get there, and fast. You might think that people don’t actually quit their jobs, move abroad and live happily ever after. Well it does happen, and I can tell you that it does because that’s how my story reads.

I moved to Spain six years ago to teach English as a foreign language (you’ll probably see it abbreviated as EFL, ESL, TEFL or TESL) and it was the best thing I could have ever done. As a teacher in Madrid, you will typically work 20 hours a week and then have the entire weekend free to explore all of the cool bars, rocking concerts, incredible restaurants, world-class museums and once-in-a-lifetime cultural experiences the city has to offer. When you go out to eat you’ll enjoy a mouth-watering three-course meal, most likely involving something fried and super yummy. If you want to go to the beach, just hop on the RENFE (Spain’s national train network) and you’ll be there in less than the time it takes to watch two episodes of Game of Thrones (which is filmed in Spain by the way!). If the beach isn’t your thing you can head to the Sierra de Madrid (the mountains) or take a trip to one of the other multitude of medieval and roman cities and towns just waiting to be explored. This is a picture of my life in Madrid. And while all of these things are great, the most important thing I should mention is that I’m happy. Really, really happy. Some might say that I have a dream life, and they would be right. Not perfect or problem-free mind you, but pretty freaking awesome.

So how do you make it happen for yourself? Well it’s not as difficult as you might think. One of the biggest obstacles people have when considering a move abroad is that they’re not sure where to start or what they should do. There’s so much information out there and if you’ve decided that you’d like to give teaching English a shot, there are so many programs to choose from! After researching several options, I decided to do a month-long TEFL training course here in the beautiful Spanish capital. I knew that being a certified English teacher would open up a ton of opportunities and that I would be able to live pretty much anywhere in the world that I wanted. Improving my Spanish language skills was also a plus.

The teaching program I chose made the whole process incredibly easy. Not only did they walk me through all the steps of obtaining my visa and got me set up with housing for when I arrived, they even arranged for job interviews when the four-week program was over. I’m still working with the same company today from those initial interviews and have a great boss whom I love. Basically all I had to do was sign up for the program, purchase a plane ticket and pack my suitcase. You also get support for everything related to your move, regardless of whether it’s related to teaching or not. When it comes to navigating all the bureaucracy, paperwork and red tape involved in a move to Europe, it’s very useful to have people who know what they’re doing helping every step of the way. Not to sound cheesy, but they also become a sort of family for those away from home. It’s so nice to have that when you’re so far away from home.

Obtaining a TEFL certificate has given me the chance to work in an extremely fun environment. How many people are lucky enough to say that they look forward to going to work every day? My students are hilarious and we laugh in every single class. Teachers also get three months off during the summer from the aforementioned really fun classes. So yeah, it’s pretty great.

So what are you waiting for? If you’ve ever dreamt of trying something new, experiencing a different culture or living in a country other than your own (even if it’s only for a year!), doing a TEFL course is your opportunity to do just that. All it takes to get started is to contact a program that you’re interested in and ask for some information. We each write the story of our lives; don’t you want yours to be an adventure novel? Well get going! Who knows, in a few years maybe YOU’LL be the one writing about how much you love living in Spain!

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lisa-tillLisa is a former opera singer who has lived and worked in Italy, France and Spain. You can read more about her adventures at Europe Lovers Only, a lifestyle and travel site launching in Spring 2017.