Alumni Spotlight: Tracy Kuhle

Tracy is a Midwesterner and former college tennis player. After studying (and eating croquetas) in Burgos, Spain for 4 months, she returned to teach English in Madrid. She’s visited 16 countries in the last 2 years but her list of places to visit only keeps growing!

Why did you choose this program?

I originally chose CIEE because I knew I wanted to be in Madrid. I'm so happy I chose CIEE because they offered a lot of pre-departure support and also a helpful orientation upon arrival. I was able to meet a lot of friends through orientation. I also wanted a little extra support while abroad and this program gave me just that!

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

CIEE helped so much throughout the pre-departure process. They gave a very useful Spain Visa guide which was my lifeline for about two months! They offered a hotel for the first night in Madrid and an extremely informative orientation. They set up an appointment to get my TIE (residence card) and helped get my transportation pass. They suggested websites to use but did not help directly find housing.

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

If you are going on this program to improve your Spanish, I would suggest NOT living with English speakers. Your job is to speak English. If you give private lessons, you will be speaking English there. I suggest living with Spanish people to practice your Spanish because chances are outside of that you will mostly be speaking English.

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

Through this program, you work 4 days, 16 hours total per week. Most language assistants had about an hour commute. My personal schedule was really great in that I went in at 8:30 or 10:30 and I was always home by 3:30 pm even with the hour commute. I taught private lessons on the side two days a week, which helped with some extra money! Regardless you will have plenty of free time to explore Madrid and do a lot of traveling!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

One thing I was worried about early on was being under-qualified for teaching English. I had never taught anything and did not study education. I quickly realized there was nothing to be worried about! Most teachers don't expect you to do much in the classroom other than speak English with the students.

Is there any other advice you'd like to share with prospective travelers?

I definitely suggest getting private lessons to help with extra money. We have a lot of free time in this program! There are basically two options with this program: teaching primary and teaching secondary. The thing you should ask yourself is do you want to work more hours with students that are really excited to see you, or work less hours with the typical high school students that aren't super excited to learn. Just something to think about! :)