Caimin Browne writes about the benefits of thinking outside the box when it comes to your teaching career, and why teaching overseas on a Meddeas teaching programme can be such a rewarding and enriching experience.
Why did you take the step of coming to Spain with Meddeas?
I was finishing my degree (Saint Patrick’s College-DCU) in Ireland and I had limited options here. I wanted to do teaching in Ireland, but I couldn’t get onto the the course I wanted to do. A friend reminded me of an email I received to teach English in Spain, related to TEFL. Although I didn’t speak Spanish I thought it would be worth applying for. I’m very glad I did.
If you had to choose one specific memory of your Spanish experience, which one would it be and why?
THE HEAT. I have never experienced such heat and it being considered normal. I was wearing shorts up to December and playing a rugby match on the first weekend of March, and it was 25, 26 degrees Celsius. Coming from Ireland, where the weather is always in the public domain, I couldn’t believe how normal temperatures in the mid-20’s were in October, and people wearing jumpers and jackets. Madness!
What relationships and/or friendships do you keep from your stay in Spain?
I still stay in touch with staff from the school and the rugby team I played with, on an ongoing basis by Facebook or WhatsApp.
In what sense has your worldview changed after your experience teaching in Spain?
The role I have to play in life. I left Ireland to teach English in Spain. I was no longer a student, I was seen as a grown up, an adult with responsibility, whose main objective was to teach as a language assistant in a school and instruct, kids are going to use what you teach them to broaden their own horizons and develop their own lives. Spain for me was the first time that I was doing something I always wanted to do.
Did you improve your level of Spanish? Has this skill helped you in your professional career? Do you use Spanish in your everyday life now?
It most certainly has. Before I left to teach English in Spain, I had a very basic level of Spanish, but I looked on this as an opportunity, where any progress was a bonus. The Spanish in Andalucia is distinctly different to Spanish spoken elsewhere in the country, so in some ways not having a firm footing in the language and being able to learn from scratch was a bonus. At the moment, I’m studying to be an Irish and French Language teacher, but also having Spanish is a huge bonus both professionally and personally.
How has this experience improved your CV and professional life?
It’s made a huge difference. I learned a new language, gained exposure to a new culture and got invaluable teaching experience. Furthermore, having work experience abroad has shown that I am able to adapt to work outside of Ireland. I am currently studying a Masters to be a school teacher here in Ireland and am hoping to work teaching French and Irish at second level.
What advice would you give to someone joining Meddeas in order to make the most of this experience?
I would advise anyone to do this. Spain offers so much; beautiful food, compassionate and kind people, fantastic weather and so much culture and travel. The year I completed will go down as one of the best of my life and there is not much I would have changed about it. It’s great to get exposed to a totally different way of life and culture. I would say to anyone, don’t just dream about travel, live it and use it to enhance and inspire your career and other life choices.