I chose this programme as I had experience tutoring and knew I wold like to work in a school, and also because I have always wanted to learn Spanish and live abroad. I saw this company worked with schools in Murcia, which is a region I already liked and had friends in. Also, the stipend and the fact the hours worked were guaranteed to span over four consecutive days appealed to me.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
ConversaSpain sent me all the guidelines and a checklist of what I would need to bring to Spain and what I would need to do on arrival. They helped set up my bank account here. I obviously had to go to appointments in person to get my NIE and things like that, but I was always told where I would need to go and what to bring. They also organised an induction meeting which was great to feel prepared for the placement and to get to know the other language assistants.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I would say that they should keep in mind that working 15 hours means that most of your time is free time, they should think about what they want to do with their free time accordingly to make the most of it. Although I knew this ahead of time and knew I wanted to travel much more than I had, I kept putting off my plans because I was indecisive and the year passed so quick.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
In my week, I spend three days working in a secondary school, one in a primary school and three doing whatever takes my fancy.
In the secondary school, my timetable varies a little, which is great as it's more interesting that way. Sometimes at this school I talk about English culture, or assist bilingual students in different subjects rather than just English. The school starts at 8:15 and ends by 14:30, and some days I start or leave earlier or have a break in the middle.
In the other school, I spend an hour with each of the first year classes. When I applied, I marked working in secondary schools as my preference, but was given 3 hours in the primary school. I am glad things did not work out the way I planned as these classes are the highlight of my week.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was feeling homesick and not spending the full year here. Luckily, that just never happened. I kept in contact frequently with family and friends from my home country, made an effort with the language here and made friends with people who were in the same position as well as with locals.
What is the region like?
Murcia is great. It has a lot of cultural attractions and events, like Semana Santa and the spring fair. It has beautiful places to hike or go to the beach. The cost of living is low, even in the city. It is very sunny here. You could live in a quiet town or in the city where there are a lot of students. It is also about two and a half hours from Valencia and from Granada, so you can easily see more of Spain.