Brandi B. graduated from Sam Houston State University, in the United States. She knew she wanted to be a teacher in Texas, but she was also curious about getting some international teaching experience. Spain sounded like the perfect destination to Brandi because it offered the possibility to improve her Spanish. But when Brandi received a placement in Meddeas Language Assistant Programs, something else happened. Her entire belief system changed when she came into contact with Spanish culture.
1. Why did you choose to come to Spain with Meddeas?
I am a teacher from the great state of Texas. I came to Spain with the dream to teach ESL abroad to little Spanish darlings as best I could, and Meddeas made that possible. And I didn’t know how teaching abroad worked, but I knew I wanted to do it. Meddeas is the reason I was able to accomplish my goal: teach ESL abroad. Teaching is my passion and, as much as I love every Texan child, I wanted to get out and be immersed with children that had a completely different culture than my own. They were able to offer an incredible grant program that included a wonderful school, a livable stipend, and a visa to accomplish all this legally.
2. Why did you repeat for a second year?
I loved my first year so much there was no question in my mind that I wanted to do a second year. I love Barcelona and I would stay longer if I could.
3. Can you choose one specific memory from your Spanish experience?
There is no way I could possibly choose just ONE memory. I will have lived here two years by the time I leave and nearly every day is worth a memorable mention. If I could instead choose an experience, I would say it would be my experience in my Spanish school. As I said before, I am a teacher in the United States. I have taught children aged 5 to 11. I was taught things in university and then used those tools to teach in American schools. Coming here, I was able to see such different teaching, behavior management, and other learning techniques that I hadn’t seen in the states.
The other thing that I loved about this experience is the relationships I have formed with my kids. I have 207 students in total, but the Spanish culture is so warm and loving that I feel like I have a relationship with each and every one of them. It’s a warmth that educators in Texas just aren’t allowed to feel.
4. What friendships have you established in Spain?
I have made some of the most incredible relationships here in Spain. I have made some best friends that I know will always be my friends no matter the distance. The great thing about Barcelona is that it is such an international city that, although my best friend is Catalan, I have made great friends from England, Sweden, Germany, America, Belgium, France, and many other places. There is nothing that can compare to the experience.
5. In what sense has your worldview changed after your experience in Spain?
My entire belief system has changed. I don’t want to get cynical about my home country, but there have been many things such as health care, education, food quality, consumerism and a few other things that I have now seen in a new light. I don’t think I will ever be able to look at certain things in America the same way. If I am completely honest, if my current five year plan goes as expected I won’t be going back to America because these views have so drastically changed. Spain can keep me!
6. What are your plans for next year?
I have loved every second of my Spanish life, but with my two years with Meddeas coming to an end and along with it my precious visa, I had to make a plan. Next year, well October, I am headed to Australia. Wanderlust is never quite satisfied, is it. My heart isn’t ready to head back to my sweet state of Texas. I have already obtained my Australian visa and am now just going to enjoy the sunshine, beaches, and patatas bravas while I’m still here.
7. What advice would you give to someone joining Meddeas to make the most of this experience?
Make everything you do an experience. Don´t just come to school, and make lessons because you HAVE to live in Spain. Throw yourself into those lessons, let the kids become your best friends, and have fun with them the same as you would outside of school. Teaching can be difficult, but if you don’t make it fun for both you and the kids it will be 10 times more difficult.
After school, I recommend doing everything possible. Make yourself a Spanish bucket list and start ticking it off while you’re here. At first, it will be huge things like “Go to Sagrada Familia” and with time you will do all those things, but don’t let your list end. Start adding smaller little desires like “Get patatas bravas at Bar Tomás” (that one is still on my list). Keep that bucket list going so that, even after a year-and-a-half, the city still feels new to you. Everything is still an adventure. Those are two things that I have done and I have never been happier in my life.