Nina Lee is a hangry traveler, tea-loving bookworm and a dessert fiend. She is currently trying to keep up with running her blogs on teaching English specifically catered to auxiliares at Hola, Teacher, and another on her sweet adventures in Spain at Nina’s Sweet Adventures. Read about her experiences working and living in Spain!
1. Where are you from?
The one and only Brooklyn, New York! Born and raised!
2. What made you decide to be an auxiliar de conversación?
I had studied abroad in Granada nine years ago and know that I had to get back to Spain eventually. After doing the whole grad school thing and getting my foot in the door at a renowned school, my urge to live abroad was too strong to resist. So I finally worked up the courage and headed over to Spain. Teaching has always been my dream, so the auxiliar program worked out well for me.
3. How many years have you been an auxiliar?
This is currently my third year.
4. Which program hired you?
My first two years I was an auxiliar, but this year I am with UCETAM.
5. What region were you placed in?
Enjoying exploring the streets of Madrid right now!
6. What grades do you teach?
Those sticky little buggers of infantíl, ages three to five. I do love them, gross as they can sometimes be!
7. What is your experience working with children in the past?
I’ve been teaching kids and adults of all ages for seven years now.
8. What surprised you most about the Spanish education system?
Wow, there’s more than one thing. But I’ll keep it simple and say the most surprising and frustrating thing is the lack of focus on classroom management. In the States, there are so many philosophies of classroom management out there because it is critical to running a classroom. But here in Spain it’s the last thing on their minds and the children are basically running around in a crazy free for all. Trying to work with a class that is used to this management is super challenging, but it’s great for learning and growing as a teacher!
9. What is your favorite part of the job?
Walking down the hall and feeling like a superstar. The kids start shouting my name as soon as they see me. No, really though, I think that as hard as our role is being assistants, we also have the privilege of developing a bond with the kids that the other teachers can’t. In every school I’ve been in, tough as some kids might have been, it’s been a joy to develop relationships with them.
We also bring in a unique perspective and different experiences that these kids and even the teachers may never be exposed to. Sharing what we know and sharing about ourselves is so awesomely important and I definitely feel privileged to do it.
10. What is your least favorite part of the job?
Um, refer back to question eight. If I had a penny for every time I have to shout to get their attention…
11. What’s your favorite word or phrase your students use?
“Hola, teacher.” I named my teaching blog that simply because no matter how many times they see me in the hallway and no matter how many times I say, “Not hola, HELLO,” they ALWAYS say hola teacher instead of hello. Drives me nuts, but I’m secretly cracking up inside.
12. Are you going to renew your position for another year?
I don’t plan on leaving Spain for quite a while. 🙂
13. What’s your favorite part of living in Spain?
How much diversity and history is jam packed into this tiny country. Every region you go into there are different cultural aspects to get to know and amazing historical sites to see.
14. What advice would you give a prospective auxiliar?
Do you have time to read a whole book? Totally depends on what kind of advice you’re looking for but I’ll try to keep it short.
I remember the sheer amount of anxiety attacks I had before the big move. If I could have given myself advice back then, I’d say, “It really is a lot easier than it seems.” Not to say that there aren’t challenges, but once you get past the logistics of paperwork, living situation and all that jazz (which is easy to do with great forums like the groups on FB), it’s just about living your daily life.
Life is life no matter what part of the world you live in. If you have the privilege of being able to move to another country you also have the privilege to enjoy it and experience it however you choose to.
Thank you, Nina!
Be sure to check out Nina’s blogs:
Nina’s Sweet Adventures
You can also follow her writing on Facebook
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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