Alumni Spotlight: Mariah Girouard

Mariah Girouard is a language assistant at a primary school in Barcelona, Spain. She is from the United States of America and she is enjoying her time in Europe and her experience with Meddeas Language Assistants in Spain.

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Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because it seemed liked the best offer compared to similar programs. The pay and the support seemed to be better than other language assistant programs in Spain. I felt like the interview process was very thorough and that the interviewers really got to know me as a person. When I got accepted I received a lot of helpful information as well.

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

They assisted me with the different processes for getting to Spain and staying there legally. Although I had to get and pay for my visa and TIE myself, they gave me valuable information and deadlines and they were great as keeping in contact; I'd bombard them with emails and they were always quick to provide an answer to my burning questions.

They matched me with a wonderful school and with a fantastic host family. I felt like they really listened to my preferences in my interview and they were careful to place me somewhere that I'd be comfortable and an environment in which I could thrive.

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

Stay on top of the workload and take in the experience with open arms. It is always best to be over prepared especially when it comes to legal documents like TIE and visa forms. Also, the online course can be stressful but as long as you remain on top of the assignments you will be okay. Don't let your doubts or fears keep you from missing out.

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

I work every day from Monday- Friday with a half hour break for breakfast and a two hour lunch break. I go to the classes with the main teacher and take half of the class to present my own lesson. I also meet with the english team once a week to plan the next week and it is very helpful because it keeps me prepared and on the same page as my colleagues. After school I usually do some private lessons or work on my assignments for the online class. I also spend a lot of time with my wonderful host family!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it?

My biggest fear was being alone. I was so scared to come to a new place and not know anything or anyone. I found a lot of friends through this program and I've also bonded with my host family and the people I work with. I know I could count on them if I needed anything! I realized that I had to put my self out there and ask people if they were free to hang out even if that meant risking rejection.

I also realized that there is so much power in saying "yes". People were so open to getting to know me and they would offer up their time, help, or companionship; all I had to do was say yes. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone and opened up a world of possibilities for me.

What was the biggest culture shock?

Perhaps the biggest culture shock was how the children in my school behave. The kids are very touchy feely with the teachers and they love to give hugs and even kisses! Coming from a culture where hugging a teacher is taboo I quite like being able to show love to my students!