Name of Volunteer Speaker
Name of town/city where school is located
Experience in school including tasks, classes, relationship with students/teachers
At the beginning it’s a bit overwhelming as you meet all the teachers and try to find your way around the school, after about 3 days I really settled in and was excited to come in everyday! The school life here is a lot different to Ireland so it does take a couple of weeks to get used to (longer lunch and longer school day overall) but in saying that lunchtime is a great way to interact with teachers and staff members or go for coffee! I realised early on in the program that the teachers have different levels of English and some are more approachable than others, it’s not a negative aspect and I didn’t take it personally, I just speak more to the teachers who are able to hold a conversation and just say hi to the teachers who are less confident speaking English. The timetable in the school, in my opinion, is perfect! 20 hours a week is enough time to get the teaching experience without it feeling like a full-time job. I have 3 longer days – usually with a late start or early finish, and 2 short days so the work/life balance for me is great! My tutor, Neus, has been absolutely amazing and I don’t think my experience would be the same without her. At the beginning she really encouraged me to speak with as many teachers as possible and invited me for coffee at any opportunity (and still does). Now that I’m very comfortable in my role here I mostly only see her at lunchtime, but I know if I ever have a problem she is always there to help.
Experience living with your Host Family. Have they made you feel welcome, relationship, activities, etc…
I cannot say enough about this family. They are amazing!! There is a nice balance of spending time with them, but they also encourage independence too. The kids Abril (15) and Ferran (13) are so different, but I have an amazing relationship with both. Abril is very studious but loves movies and music and since I have arrived, we watch at least one movie a week together. Ferran plays hockey and loves sport, so we connect really well in that aspect, and we go to the gym every Monday together! Missing my family is probably the most difficult thing for me since being here but my host family is doing an amazing job of filling that void for me. The family is very busy, and plans change a lot and sometimes at the last minute, it’s chaotic but it reminds me of my own family growing up and I wouldn’t change it for the world! I can’t express enough how supportive they are and how lucky I am to be with these people.
Your general experience whilst on the program from prior expectations to your current experience
My expectations have definitely been met while on this program – maybe they have even been exceeded. Teaching is always something I was interested in doing and this experience has solidified that for me! You don’t get opportunities like this in Ireland so I am very grateful that this program has given me the space to find out for myself if teaching is a career path I would like to explore further.
Changes/Improvements in both personal and professional development
The program has helped me with my confidence both personally and professionally. Being able to come to a place where I don’t speak the language has been difficult, but it has stood to me. Teaching teenagers isn’t for everyone but there hasn’t been a day where I didn’t want to be in school, professionally I know secondary school teaching is the route I would like to go down in the future and that decision has only been made because of the opportunity given to me from the program!
Advice for any new/future Voluntary Speakers placed in your town/city (best places to visit, things to do, activities with host family, favourite restaurant, bar, etc.…)
For me, the location is great. Vic isn’t a very big city but not a small town either – I would say it’s the perfect size for someone doing this program! Vic has everything you need from fashion shops to coffee shops to really nice bars and restaurants. There are really nice places to go for walks and stop for lunch or coffee if that’s something you’re into. It’s also very popular for sport so if this is something you’re interested in they probably have a local team here for whatever that sport is (and I would encourage anyone to join). Luckily for me there is a gym and swimming pool directly across the road from my house which I love to go to but there are other gyms around Vic too wherever you’re situated! I live about a 15-minute walk away from school in a really nice part of Vic – surrounded by cafes and supermarkets. There is both a bus and train station in the centre of Vic which makes it very easy to get around. One train ride and you can be in either Barcelona or France but also in many other places in Catalonia!
Advice for new/future Voluntary Speakers placed in your school?
With regards to the job in school, as mentioned above, some teachers’ level of English is better than others or some may be more confident to try and speak English. I would encourage you to speak to the teachers who can and don’t take it personally if others don’t speak to you. The English teachers in the school are very helpful and if you need any advice or help in regards to your lessons, these would be the people I would go to.
Advice for new/future Voluntary Speakers in relation to living with your host family or Spanish families in general
The most important thing is that you need to be very open minded. It’s a very different culture in home life so you have to be prepared for anything to be thrown your way – I mean this in regards to the food, drinks, the music, the culture. EVERYTHING. The more flexible and willing you are to learn about how the people here live their lives, the better your overall experience is going to be. Any advice given to you by Educados or the family or the tutor at the beginning, listen to it!
Share some of the best moments in your school, host family and in general whilst participating on the program
In Spain, particularly in Catalonia, family is a huge part of life. Since coming here, I have met the entire family on both sides of my host parents. We have been for lunch/dinner with the maternal and paternal sides of both parents at least once! For me, this has been amazing because I have met so many amazing and funny people – some who are my own age and had lots of fun with! I have visited some beautiful places with my family also – my favourite being Cadaques. In school, I went ice-skating in Puigcerda with the older students and we had such a great time! After arriving on the train, we had breakfast, then went ice-skating for 2 hours and then sat for a couple of hours with the other teachers to have lunch. The students here are so funny and willing to learn if you make it enjoyable for them!
Any regrets joining? Would you recommend the program to others? and what would you say to someone thinking about teaching English abroad for the first time and thinking about joining this program?
Absolutely no regrets whatsoever!! I would definitely recommend the program, as I’ve mentioned already, the work/life balance is great, you are gaining so much experience but also have free time to do whatever you want! One thing I would say to someone joining the program is that the first few days/week can be overwhelming, it’s a new family, new job, new location and that can be very scary! It’s going to be uncomfortable but instead of resisting, lean into the uncomfortableness and take it one day at a time. Don’t be too hard on yourself and everything will work out. Thank you for completing this feedback, it is important to know your