Kirstie is a former auxiliar de conversación and is now backpacking and blogging around the world! She is one of the auxiliares whose blog and stories inspired me to teach in Spain as well. Take a look at what her experience was like working on the Iberian Peninsula:
Feria de Abril in Sevilla, 2013
1. Where are you from?
I’m from Pasadena, California.
2. What made you decide to be an Auxiliar de Conversación?
I’m absolutely in love with Spain, and when I was looking for an opportunity to live there again after I graduated from college, the auxiliar program sounded perfect.
3. Which program hired you?
The North American Language and Culture Assistants program.
4. What region were you placed in?
I was an auxiliar for two years. The first year, I was placed in Andalucía, in a village in the province of Huelva called Villarrasa, but I lived in Sevilla. The second year, I was placed in Madrid, specifically in Alcorcón.
5. Was teaching abroad your first experience in Spain?
Nope! I spent a month in Granada in high school, which is what made me fall head over heels in love with Spain and travel, and then I spent my third year of university studying in Madrid.
Last day of classes in Madrid
6. What grades did you teach?
The first year, I taught preschool through 2o ESO (8th grade), and the second year I taught 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and a bit of preschool.
7. Had you worked with children in education in the past?
I tutored Spanish in high school and college, and I also volunteered with an after school program while I was in college, but this was my first time teaching.
8. What surprised you the most about the Spanish education system?
The discipline compared to American schools. Students don’t have the same respect for teachers as I witnessed in the U.S. growing up, and classrooms can be preeeetty wild.
La Paz, Bolivia on my current round the world trip.
9. What were your favorite/least favorite parts of the job?
My favorite parts of the job were getting to live in Spain and the connections I formed with the students. My least favorite part was dealing with rambunctious students without having had any education training.
10. What was your favorite word or phrase your students used?
“Tee-chair, tengo mocos.” At least the younger ones. Eek.
11. What was your favorite part of living in Spain?
Spain is an incredibly vibrant country that I loved getting to know. It’s also a great base from which to explore Europe.
Visiting Brisbane, Australia when I was living in Sydney.
12. How has your experience as an auxiliar helped you in what you’re doing now?
After teaching as an auxiliar, I moved to Australia, where I worked in digital marketing. For the past year, I’ve been backpacking around the world. Living in Spain as an auxiliar made me more comfortable and confident in foreign countries and gave me immense wanderlust.
13. What advice would you give a prospective auxiliar?
Patience, patience, patience! The program doesn’t always run smoothly, your school may frustrate you, your students may be difficult to handle, but just stay positive. It will all work out.
Mil gracias, Kirstie!
Cover photo: Lagos de Covadonga, Asturias, Spain
If you are a volunteer, language assistant, or English teacher abroad and would like to participate in an interview, let me know via the contact tab!
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