Alumni Spotlight: Shaniya Morris


Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because it seemed like the perfect fit for me, commitment and time-wise.

There are so many programs out there to choose from, most of which offer a TEFL certification within the course. I was not interested in these options because I already had a TEFL certification, and to be completely transparent, I was running from the 40 hr a week life - I was looking to have a more carefree enjoyable existence. With this program, I only work 16 hours a week and receive a fairly livable wage. This gives me so much time to do other things I never had time for in the past.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

RVF does things in 3 stages.

So the first stage is just getting information about the program and actually completing the application, which RVF does for you.

After you get your placement, Phase 2 is essentially the visa process. Everything is explained in tremendous detail for you through RVF. So, all I had to do on my own was literally print documents and physically go to a visa appointment.

The last phase is all of the detailed information on what you need to move to Spain and how to do everything from your TIE (residency card) to hooking up WiFi in your flat. I actually had to make phone calls and do the housing search on my own. However, I was supplied with tips and a few options to start with.

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

When dealing with Spanish bureaucracy, please be ambitious and stay on top of things.

Often you will go to offices multiple times just to be told different things and it's up to you to be persistent to get your things done. Join Facebook or Whatsapp groups in your city for your program. There is a wealth of knowledge on the pages from people that are currently going through the same thing you are as well as many from those who have already done it.

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

So I work for about 25 mins by bus from my job. I didn't want to live in my assigned city because it is really small, so I opted to live in the nearest reasonably sized city. So, after waking up and fixing myself I catch the bus and head to work. I deal with all of the grade levels in my school; so, from 1st to 6th. In my particular school, Art is also taught in English, so I assist in both the English and Art classes for all of the grades.

Overall, I do small presentations for major U.S holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. And during a normal week, I explain and go over some small simple lessons; however, my main objective is to engage the students in English conversation. I also usually do the review as well.

So the English teacher introduces the lessons, and as the classes progress at the beginning of the class, I go over vocabulary and grammar. Mainly, I go around the tables or take groups at a time during class sessions and correct their assignments while getting them to produce some English speech with games and activities.

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

Honestly, this wasn't my first rodeo and I'm a pretty brave and organized person, so I wasn't really afraid of anything. I do a ton of research before I do anything major (or minor for that matter), so I was as prepared as I could've been when I moved here. But if I did have to pick something it would be the language barrier.

So, I actually speak a little Spanish, but I was not very confident about it. So I'm still overcoming my language fear of speaking more than when I need to and trying not to avoid situations just because of the language.

Is there any other advice for prospective travelers?

My advice for any prospective travelers is to take your time, do your research, and go with your gut. In my opinion, the hardest thing about moving to a different place is not being able to gauge anything. Where are the good neighborhoods, from the rough ones? How expensive is expensive? Where should I grocery shop? [Where do I get peanut butter (my current struggle haha)]. So I would advise you to be vigilant, explore, and be social. People without a doubt is how you learn a ton of this information. So you have to get out!

Also, just generally, try not to compare your experience or "quality of life" in your new country to any previous living situations. Appreciate it for what it is in its context. Enjoy every experience, the good, the bad and the "omg seriously". Fully commit to your journey and don't take the easy way out by only socializing with other English native speakers. Mingle with the locals and truly take in, appreciate, and enjoy what this new country has to offer.

Bon voyage!