Alumni Spotlight: Elizabeth Tripp

Elizabeth is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst with two Bachelor's degrees in Spanish and Children's Advocacy. She decided to spend a year teaching in Spain through Meddeas before starting her Master's in Social Work degree.

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Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because of all that I'd applied to, I felt like they were the most organized and truly knew me well as a candidate. The interview process definitely takes our placement hopes such as location and host family vs. independent accommodation into consideration. I felt like the interview was a good challenge, but one of the best I'd ever had in terms of conversation and feeling heard.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

In terms of getting to Spain, the program handled my school and host family placements. They also assisted with any questions we had about the VISA process and placed us in our TESOL certification course with the University of Catalunya. I did have to handle obtaining the VISA and paperwork to do so, my flights, my accommodation for orientation in Barcelona, and transportation to Huelva where I've been living.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Moving abroad is a huge, exciting decision. My mind was filled with ''What If's,'' before I left for Spain. I'm happy to say everything that I worried about worked out just fine. My advice is to organize and research all aspects of your time abroad far ahead of time so as to avoid added stress.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

I work twenty hours a week as an assistant through Meddeas, so an average day for me is some combination of working at the school, lesson planning, studying or doing homework for my TESOL certificate course, helping my host sisters with homework or playing games with them, and/or teaching private English classes. I have to plan my time wisely, but I've been able to work while also having time to travel, practice Spanish, make friends, etc.

Going into your experience abroad what was your biggest fear?

My biggest fear was that I would not like the area I'd be placed in, my school, or living with my host family. I overcame it by planning and trying my best to adapt one day at a time (poco a poco). Living in Huelva has positives and negatives like any other place, but I've enjoyed how close it is to the beach and the fact that I've had to learn to use public transport (it's a great way to practice Spanish).

My school has been excellent and supportive as has my host family. My Spanish has improved so much living with them. They are hilarious, generous, and sweet. I've really enjoyed my time living and learning with them.

Write and answer your own question.

What's been your favorite memory working at a Spanish school thus far?

I love my first grade class to pieces because they are so adorable. They cheer when I enter the classroom and I am always greeted with twenty or more hugs. My favorite memory has been from this class.

We were learning about body part vocabulary the previous week and one of my students came running up to me exclaiming and pointing: ''Miss Ellie, look! Eyebrows, eyelashes, and chin!'' I told her I was proud of her for remembering and she beamed with joy and pride. It was super cute.