“Manchegan” Shock to the System

Having experienced Spain before as a student I did not anticipate a cultural shock when I arrived this time as an English Language Assistant. As bold and brash as it was, I thought I was quite “hispanicized” and the move wouldn’t have such a great impact on me.

English Language Assistant
From left to right and top to bottom: Las Tablas de Daimiel, los Molinos de Consuegra, Ayuntamiento en Castilla

My name is Nikesh, I am 23 years old and from Cork in the south of the Emerald Isle. I recently graduated at University College of Cork and I am currently teaching as a language assistant in a small city in the heart of the Spanish “Castilla la Mancha” region, called Ciudad Real.

When I first arrived here; there were highs and lows, laughs, frustrations and soon-to-be fantastic memories that will warm my heart in a year’s time. I have only been here for a month and already life here has been a “Gran Locura”, shaped by some wonderful adventures and amazing people I have met here so far!

Now first things first… I´m a realist… (sorry).

English Language Assistant
Enjoying some “tapas deliciosas” from some of Ciudad Real’s top bars

Having maintained a comfortable lifestyle of a stay-at-home student with part time jobs for 21 years, my first official day was quite intimidating. I was extremely nervous for my first class, afraid that my 12-year-old students may eat me whole. Butterflies were racing through around my stomach, my palms were wetter than the Lagunas de Ruidera and my mouth drier than the midlands in the height of Summer. For a moment I wanted to leg it back to Ireland but instead I took a deep breath and with all the enthusiasm I could muster announced “Hellooooo everyone, my naaaaameee is Niki, your English Language Assistant for the yearrr!”. As the class progressed my initial fears disappeared and were replaced with buzz of electricity. Successive classes went equally as well and I realized I had no reason to be nervous as I love teaching! I have amazing creative scope to do almost whatever I want in my classes and it brings me such joy to see my students enjoy and play around with English.

English Language Assistant
Family tree designed by a primary student

And of course, it is such a reward when I received this from one of my pupils from an ordinary homework exercise… (photo beside).

When I moved over officially in September, I faced a brief spell of readjustment in the first two weeks. For example, I had completely forgotten that almost all the shops close on a Sunday, which is especially bad when you decide to have a mini-feast on Saturday night and empty your fridge. OOPS! And don’t even get me started on the difficulties I faced trying to get el NIE (Spanish identification card)… I’m still having nightmares!

However, with each frustration, there have been a tenfold of wonderful things. Ciudad Real boasts an amazing tapas culture and being able to economically dine or “cenar en vaso” on scrumptious Spanish cuisine is always a winner!

English Language Assistant
Bracelet with Marianistas crest, regaled to me for my birthday

Another aspect is how welcoming and lovely the Manchegos are. I have met so many wonderful people both in and outside of school and one of my more sentimental highlights was receiving a bracelet with my school’s crest from a member of staff that I had previously only conversed three times with.

In addition, this experience has re-ignited my wanderlust and my need to Christopher Columbus the four corners of this country, one weekend trip at a time! I have the opportunity to travel and discover the beautiful Castilla de La Mancha region weekend by weekend.

Despite the initial shock and re-adjustment to the Spanish lifestyle, I feel I have undoubtedly found my place in Ciudad Real and I’m extremely happy to say that day by day “me siento más y más Manchego*“.

*Manchego: the denomyn of the inhabitants of Castilla la Mancha, Spain.

2015/2016 Posted by Nikesh C.

An experience that will challenge you, teach you, and change you


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