There have been multiple moments in my life where I have stated, “WOW, this is the best decision I have ever made.” Moving to Spain to teach English with Meddeas is one of those moments.
My Origins: A Small Town in the United States
To prelude this “best decision” were my high school days. Growing up in a small town in the Midwestern United States meant that I was raised and only knew the “small bubble” of my town and county. However, I strived to know more than that.
I decided to go to a university not far from home but in one of Ohio’s biggest cities. From here, I started my nursing degree and had the ambition to be a travelling nurse, to “see the world (or at least the United States)”.
However, soon enough my desire to be a nurse and my queasiness with my own blood was quickly replaced with my love for teaching, education, and children, while still holding on to the “travelling” aspect of nursing.
I Fell in Love with Spain
Fast forward some years after that decision and a few summer visits to Spain, I fell in love with the entirety of Spain, its vast people, its culture, and all it had to offer. All I thought about and all I did was to help pursue what I really wanted: to teach English abroad. Specifically, in Spain. What I did not know was the method to do this, how to end up in Spain and with a teaching job. This is when I discovered Meddeas.
Meddeas Was the Way
Some tell me, “you’re so lucky.” But what they see as “luck” is no luck at all, merely hard work that has begun to pay off.
Now, why was all of this one of the best decisions I have ever made? Let us dive in.
An Open Mind
For any person, to leave all they know behind, move to a foreign country, and teach English (one of the subjects I liked least in school), requires a big leap of faith.
However, I knew that I was making the right decision for myself and for my personal and professional experiences.
This required an open mind and the willingness to live, meet new people, and to be open to new experiences and adventures. All of this, of course, with the restrictions of Covid-19 in mind.
The phrase, “The BEST decision”, comes with a kind of connotation such as “life-changing”. And that is essentially what this experience has done and will continue to do for me.
A Life-changing Experience
Life-changing in many ways. The opportunity to experience another culture, hands-on, has been one of the best things that I have “signed up” for, for a lack of better terms.
Essentially, being a Language Assistant implies teaching English and sharing your culture, while studying for a TEFL certification, while exploring the Canary Islands. (Yes, I am incredibly “lucky” to have been given a placement in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been). All of this, while simultaneously growing, learning, and improving on so many levels. Including being a teacher, daughter, and friend.
Enough of the “self-growth talk”. It is time to dive. Everything that I have seen of Spain is quite beautiful. From going from a small, rural, farm town, to the capital city on the island of Tenerife, I have seen many differences.
From Ohio to the Canary Islands
First, growing up in a farming community, tucked away on the Ohio-Indiana border, left little room for exploring any major cities. We typically stuck to hopping from town to town and seeing the occasional Amish family with their children and horses and buggy. Living on an island was a drastic change that was easier to make than you would think.
On the island, you can find every season and every type of nature in the same day. In one day, I can go from the heat of laying on the beach, to hiking in the cool breeze of the forests. Then, I find the desert-like atmosphere of the South, and the cold top of the Teide. In this realization, I began to really understand the diverseness of the Canary Islands.
However, in the city I live, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, warm weather typically clings. Besides food and a few other things, maybe this is one of my favorite things about my new home.
Food. Food. Food. I am a foodie. I have never been picky about food. But there are definitely some of my mom’s recipes that I have turned my nose to and apologetically avoided eating.
Sorry, mom, you are still the best cook I know, and I love you.
However, on my arrival to Spain, I decided that I would be open-minded to every food that I was offered.
The food in Spain fills me with almost the same satisfaction that my grandmother’s cooking did. In Tenerife, there are many influences in food: Venezuelan, American, or Italian. Some of my favorites, that have become staples in my diet, are cachapas, kebabs and guachinches.
The cachapa is typical here due to the Venezuelans who emigrated. A cachapa is more or less like imagining a sweet, shaped like a tortilla but thicker, and moist cornbread. On one half of this cornbread is a salty, shredded beef with white cheese. It is then folded over and grilled more. And it is absolutely delicious.
A kebab is essentially a tortilla with thinly shaved meat, vegetables, and any sauce you could imagine.
Guachinches are a bit different. They are a type of restaurant that was traditionally in someone’s garage. They only opened to sell homemade wines with little, but delicious typical foods from the island. These days, some guachinches are still in garages.
Merging with Spanish Culture
I have enjoyed the differences that the Spanish culture offers, making myself a more well-rounded and open-minded person. I listen to Spanish music, enjoy the holiday season with the Three Kings, and eat castañas (roasted chestnuts that are typical here during the Christmas season). Also, I explore the islands, I create new and lifelong friendships, try to learn Spanish, and influence the lives of the little ones at school.
If after all of my comments, you still do not believe that this has been the best decision I have ever made, then believe it from knowing that I am a teacher.
In an interview at Wright State University in the winter of 2019, I stated, “School is where you are able to help cultivate the students’ knowledge and what they learn. To help give them the passion for education and the passion to want to learn. To want to be better and to be a positive influence on themselves, their family, and the world.”
In the end, even if all of these aspects were non-existent, and I was only teaching English to students, I would still feel that this has been the best decision that I have ever made.
Two Tips for Life
So, if you are reading this, thanks for hanging on until the end. Here is some advice that I thought I would pass on.
- My mom– “You’ve got to experience life now. Because you do not want to look back on life and have regrets. When you look back, you do not want to think, ‘Dang, I should have done this.’”
- A dear friend– “’One day we will be old’. Let that phrase sink in. One … day… we… will…be… old. If you want to do something now, if you want something, just get up and go for it.”
These adventures and the rest of this year will only be one page of a book. For The best decision I have ever made, I plan to have many more pages.
By Katelyn U., 2020-2021.