Alumni Spotlight: Jay Tipton


My name is Jay Tipton and I am from Los Angeles, CA. I currently teach English in Huelva, Spain which is located in Andalucia. Prior to teaching, I was a film/commercial/documentary producer.

Why did you choose this program?

I choose CIEE to get involved with teaching English abroad because they seemed super professional and the costs were reasonable. I spent many days/hours browsing the internet for the best way to teach abroad and my final decision was that CIEE seemed like the best option to get my foot in the door. Their representatives were unbelievably helpful throughout the entire process. I would recommend them to anyone!

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

My program provider assisted me with sooo many things (especially with the preparation phase of the experience)! Some of the biggest and most helpful were:

  1. Steps to obtain a visa.
  2. Steps to get in contact with my school.
  3. Steps on how to find housing/open bank account/set up life in general.
  4. Insurance.

Some of the things I had to organize on my own were:

  1. Actually finding my apartment once I got to my city.
  2. Determining my work schedule with my school.
  3. Scheduling my commutes.

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

Money related advice! Like:

  1. Find out your income and create a monthly budget (you can search the internet for the average costs of living in your city).
  2. Based, on that budget make sure you have enough money saved up to float you for 2-3 months (you'll need to put down a deposit, buy groceries, buy bus tickets, etc. before you get your first payment).
  3. Consider your personal/fun travel in your money-saving plans.

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

In Andalucia, we teach 12 hours a week, spread over 4 days a week (Monday-Thursday with Friday free).

Each participant's schedule is different, depending on their school. My school is located very near to where I live, so I have a short, easy commute that I usually do with a coworker. I have friends with much longer, more complicated commutes. I teach 12 hours in the classroom and spend about 2-3 hours a week planning and prepping for my classes.

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

I know this sounds a little over-confident, but the truth is that I did not really have any fears before my abroad experience. I have moved many times to many different places in my life, so at this point I feel pretty secure whenever I make these types of moves. Thankfully, I had enough money saved up and support from friends/family that put me in a great position before the move, but in reality, I was not scared. I suppose this answer does not help too much but just being honest :)

Also, I did not speak a lot of Spanish (almost none) before the move, but I tried to study and prep as best as I could. That helped big time!

What is working with a new group of teachers, who you have never met before and do not speak your language like?

It was awesome! I will admit that it's entirely possible that I got super lucky with my school placement, but from day one I felt very welcomed and comfortable, despite my almost zero level of Spanish and a very limited level of English on my coworkers' part. Despite the language barrier, we still made it work. I showed interest in them and their lives and they did the same in return.

Over the semester, I started to create real bonds and connections with my coworkers, all in their own unique ways. Everyone was eager to help me and I tried to do the same back - teamwork baby!