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Mustering Up the Courage: Teach Abroad

Where It All Began

My beginnings as a language assistant were serendipitous. I was finishing university at a time when it felt like everyone had their lives fully planned, colour-coordinated, and scheduled down to the next second. Whereas, I was gasping out for a change of scenery that looked like a life away from the everyday grey of English cities. I knew I wanted to move country but in my search for a new start, I had only found pages and pages warning about the red tape that complicates the whole process.

Then one day, I ran into a friend who was successfully selected to be a part of the teach abroad programme called Meddeas. I rushed home to research it online and there it was: the answer to my uncertainty.

The Meddeas Programme ticked every box for me. It was committed to providing schools with quality English education, it supported its Language Assistants before and during their placements and I liked that the TEFL qualification was ongoing throughout the year so that I was being constantly challenged and learning new things.

Within no time, I was organising all my documentation and packing my life away into the largest suitcase I could find.

Making the Move

Fresh starts are never easy, and if they were, everyone would be jetting off every three months to sample all the sights the world has to offer. It is a daunting, and sometimes, a little bit of a terrifying task.

Naturally, there were moments when I felt completely out of my depth. Starting at the new school, adjusting to new systems, and grappling with Spanish bureaucracy did leave me feeling exasperated with the whole process. However, alongside these moments where I felt that an unshaken trust in the process was a naïve and obnoxiously optimistic standpoint, were moments where I stopped in the street, mouth having fallen open to exclaim ‘how is this my life?’

Yes, there was stress, anxiety, and exhaustion, but there were also scenic runs through the forest on my lunch break. There was watching the sun rise through the steam of the coffee pot in my kitchen and laughing with other language assistants as we met up for post-work drinks in an idyllic plaza. I celebrated my new friend’s birthdays with beach picnics and camping trips to the nearby mountains.

At school, it was rewarding to form warm familiar relationships with my students and colleagues. The other teachers and I would spend our morning breaks sipping tea and swapping funny stories from our classes and later, I would host a lunchtime yoga session with my older students. By the time Summer had arrived, I was sad to see my lovely students go as I’d watched them grow and improve throughout the year.

Why I Would Urge You to Become a Language Assistant

The work is not for everyone, and it is certainly not easy. That said, I found that within the programme, I never felt as though I was completely alone in my experience. I had the available Meddeas coordinators who were eager to answer any queries and the network of other language assistants all grappling with the similar highs and lows that I had.

The experience has opened my eyes to what working abroad has to offer, and the wide range of possibilities that occur when you finally decide to take the leap of faith. It has moulded me into a person that is far more adaptable and resilient, and the lessons I’ve learned will carry me into the exciting unknown of what comes next.

If you’re finding yourself gasping out for a change like I was, please be assured that my experience as a language assistant has felt like a long, drawn out exhale of relief.

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