Monday, 10 October 2016

A new Spanish adventure that is teaching me more about myself every day!

Muy buenas tardes a todos!

So here I am! Beginning my fourth week in Sevilla! I repeat, FOURTH week in Sevilla! I literally have no idea where the time has gone as it seems like five minutes ago that I was at home in Bristol feeling nervous and excited about coming here to work as a language assistant! But here I am four weeks later, absolutely loving life and feeling so settled that I feel like I have been here for months rather than weeks! And that's great because it means that I am really feeling happy in my new life and filling my time with positive experiences rather than feeling lonely and homesick.

Now, before I start to go on about how happy I am feeling here, those of you who are new to following my blog will probably want to know a bit about what I am doing here. In fact, I will begin by telling you all about my first three weeks at work as they have certainly been busy, exciting, and extremely rewarding!

Having just graduated from Bangor University with a degree in French/Spanish, I am somebody who absolutely loves to travel, meet new people, and experience new cultures. And I very much discovered this aspect of my personality when I did a year abroad in the 2014-2015 academic year as a part of my degree. During that year, I spent six months working as a receptionist and a teaching assistant in France, and the other six months working in a housing company in Spain. In fact, the second half of the year when I worked in the housing company I was actually in Sevilla! I had a fantastic year abroad, but it was particularly amazing in Sevilla where I felt extremely welcomed by the people that I worked with and lived six of the most amazing months of my life travelling, practicing my Spanish, and doing my internship in the housing company. For these reasons, I very much felt that Sevilla would be the perfect place to live after university. Therefore, when the opportunity arose to go and work as a language assistant in a secondary school in Sevilla, I didn't even have to think twice before accepting the offer. There was no doubt about it. I was going back to Sevilla! :)

The school that I am working in is a state secondary school in an area of Sevilla that I did not previously know. It is not in the city centre but is in a very good location as I can walk there from where I am living and I am also living in the centre so have everything that I need right on my doorstep. At first, I felt very nervous about working in this school as I never imagined myself to be somebody who would get on well as a secondary school teacher. However, I have been proven wrong as I really can honestly say that my experience at the school so far has been fantastic and I have learnt that the secondary school environment feels very different now that I am an adult. I have been extremely touched by how welcoming and friendly all of the staff at the school have been with me and I have been really chuffed at how well behaved, friendly, and enthusiastic my students have been with me so far. Having been very worried that I would not be able to gain the respect of classes of teenage students and that I would not be able to teach them well, I have been very pleasantly surprised and very happy to see how well they have responded to me in class and how interested and enthusiastic they are in their English studies. I also have never been a natural at public speaking so this was understandably a concern of mine when I walked through the school gates on my first day. However, I am surprising myself more and more each day as I confidently deliver presentations and classes even though a few years ago I wouldn't have dreamt of standing up in front of such large groups of people.

Although I am a language assistant at the school, the post is very interesting and stimulating as I have a timetable in which I am very actively teaching classes through the medium of English. As I am in a Bilingual institution, the classes that I am teaching are not English language classes but are in fact History, Maths, Technology, Philosophy, and Biology classes. Now although this seemed a little daunting at first being the languages graduate that I am, I very soon realized that it is actually perfectly manageable to give classes in these subjects and is in fact, a very interesting and effective way to teach English. I have been amazed at the way in which students in Spain are expected to study a certain percentage of their courses in English and can very much see how it is very beneficial for them when I compare the level of English of the students in the first year of secondary school and the final year. The 16-18 year old students speak very good English and understand some very complex concepts in classes such as philosophy and I am convinced that this is very much down to the way in which they receive an all rounded education in English through the application of the language across the whole curriculum. Having now been working at the school for a few weeks, I am really starting to get to know my students and also the staff and I am really seeing how much this experience is growing me up as a person and giving me a huge confidence boost in terms of my natural fear of public speaking and my past worries about teaching at secondary school level. It is good because the class teachers are always in the room with me when I am teaching so I am able to really focus on delivering my classes to the highest standard possible without having the added responsibilities of discipline and full class organisation. In fact, my job is to maximize the use of English in the classes and to expose the students to native English as much as possible which is a really rewarding job as I really think that having a native speaker with them in classes is making a difference in terms of the amount that they practice and their knowledge of English speaking countries.

In addition to my weekly schedule of classes, I have started teaching a couple of private English lessons each week and may be taking on more very soon. This is a fantastic experience for me as I am gaining more teaching experience, working with adults as well as teenagers, and also earning some extra money which is very useful. As well as this, I am already scheduled to accompany some school trips to places in Spain that I have not yet visited which is another way in which I am really getting into the life at the school! On Thursday I will be going on a trip with the 17 and 18 year old students to a town in the province of Cadiz so I'm very much looking forward to experiencing a school trip as a member of staff and also seeing a new place at the same time!

Alongside my life at the school, I am living a very active social life in which I am meeting lots of new people and enjoying participating in cultural events in the city. In the last few weeks, I have made lots of new friends and also enjoyed seeing friends that I made on my year abroad again. I have been to the cinema, been out clubbing, been to language exchange socials, gone out for meals, and gone for walks with the new friends that I have made. I also really enjoyed taking part in the Carrera Nocturna del Guadalquivir which is an 8.5km run that thousands of people in the city take part in every year. It was really lovely because I ran it with my friends from the company where I did my internship in 2015 and also some other people that I had not met before. We then went and had a few beers at the end to celebrate as we all made it to the finish line which was a great achievement! The atmosphere that evening was incredible as the whole city came together supporting each other and having fun with friends and family so it was a really lovely event to get involved with. It is definitely a lovely memory that will stay with me :) A week later I then went to the Noche en Blanco which is an evening when all touristic monuments in the city are free to visit and there are a number of different activities, shows, and musical performances going on around the city centre. I went along to this event with a group of girls who I have made friends with here and we had a lovely time taking in the amazingly buzzing atmosphere and making the most of all of the opportunities on offer. We particularly enjoyed watching the singing groups! They were very impressive! :)

So as you can see, my first few weeks in Sevilla have been absolutely packed full of wonderful experiences, socializing, getting used to my new work place, and settling into a new flat with new people. I am living in a lovely flat in a fantastic location so I couldn't be happier! I am also really enjoying spending a lot of time out and about, socializing with different people, and really maximizing my cultural and linguistic experiences as it is making me feel really happy and settled where I am. Having spent most of my final year at university worrying about what graduate life would be like, I am pleased to say that my experience of it so far has been brilliant! I really miss university and often feel very nostalgic when I think about the time that I spent in Bangor but I'm also really pleased to have discovered that I can feel really happy and settled somewhere else too. In fact, I feel very grateful for my time in Bangor and the friends that I made there, as I strongly believe that all of this has led me to where I am today and has made me able to cope with going into new situations that aren't necessarily in my comfort zone and to learn and develop from them as I feel that I am doing at the school. If I'm honest, the work is challenging for me but in my mind that is very positive as it is very stimulating and no day or class is ever the same. That's why I am learning so much from it!

Anyway, this post has been long enough so I will end it here! I will be adding a photo page onto the blog for this year in Spain so please watch the page for that if you are interested! I have lots of lovely photos to illustrate this post so I promise they will be up shortly! :)

Thank you for continuing or starting to follow my blog. It is a pleasure to share my experiences with you! I will try to update it regularly throughout the year and am hoping to have the next post published within the next two to three weeks.

Hasta muy pronto! :)

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