Andrea - 2016 Program Participant

What inspired you to go abroad? 

I was in a moment of transition in my life and wanted to take a risk. Thus, I decided to follow my passion for travel and education, and applied for the teaching abroad program in Madrid, Spain; this was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Houses on a cliff in Cuenca, Spain
Cuenca, Hanging Houses, Spain

Why did you choose CIEE?

I chose CIEE because they offered a support that no other organization did. They made the process so easy and it just felt meant to be. They also had a variety of programs to choose from, which allowed me to have more options.

What was your favorite part about Spain?

My favorite part was the food and people. Madrid was the perfect city for me, because my grandmother is Spanish; I felt like I connected to my heritage. I also felt that Madrid has a lot to offer and it is an easy city to immerse in the culture and enjoy!

What made your experience abroad unique? 

The CIEE program made my experience unique because the orientation you have sets you up for success. In that time, I was able to not only meet the best group of friends, but easily set up everything I needed, so when school started I hit the ground running and started my life in Spain.

What surprised you most about Spain?

How easy it was to settle in and live in a large city like Madrid.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

The emails, activities, and constant contact made me feel supported throughout the process. I always knew I had someone to call or email, which made me feel supported.

Burgos Cathedral, Spain
Burgos Cathedral after Lunch, Spain

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I wish I would have started looking at apartments online earlier on, just to have more options before choosing the right apartment.

What did your accommodation turn out like? What did you like best about it?

I decided to live on my own, so I rented a small studio. What I liked best is how close it was to the public transportation I took to get to work.

Describe a typical day in the life of your program.

A typical day in my program was work from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the school. This would mean about four periods of supporting the teachers and snack time. Then I’d have time to come home and enjoy the afternoon exploring the culture and city.

Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain
Plaza Mayor on a lazy Sunday, Madrid Spain

What did you enjoy doing in your free time?

In my free time, I enjoyed going to museums, parks, trying tapas places, and being with friends.

What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program? 

That this is an experience you will never forget. Also, it is helpful to bring a little savings, just to give you a cushion as you settle in. This will make you feel way more at ease.

What was the hardest part about teaching abroad?

Staying open to the different teaching styles and learning to adapt to them.

How difficult was it to communicate with locals?

At times it was challenging and things could get lost in translation, but mostly it was not hard and they make a great effort to help you feel comfortable.

Is there anything you wish you would have known before teaching abroad in Spain?

A little more about the transportation so to make it easier to chose where to live and make the commute to work as short as possible.

Do you have any packing tips for individuals headed to Spain?

Don't go overboard. You will acquire things here, so only pack the essentials.

What do you feel the biggest benefit of teaching abroad is?

How much you learn about another culture and the traveling that you get to do while abroad. 

There is nothing like this experience and how much value it gives you both personally and professionally.
La Concha Beach in San Sebastian, Spain
San Sebastian, La concha beach in Winter, Spain

How has your time teaching abroad impacted your life?

From the recent interviews I've had, I can say that it has changed my perspective on some things and expanded my capabilities and knowledge.

Would you recommend CIEE to others? Why?

Definitely, CIEE offers a great program with amazing support. They help you with everything you need, thus allowing you to enjoy the journey fully.

If you could teach abroad again, where would you go?

I would stay in Spain, specifically in Madrid.