Hi! My name is Sam Anthony, I am 22 years old and from New York (though I spent a good portion of my life just outside of Buffalo, where I see you’re from!). I graduated from New York University this past May with a degree in Anthropology, focusing in archaeology. I’ll be teaching at both IES Madrid Sur and IES Pradalongo in Madrid this year so hopefully I can make the two school situation work!
Haha yes! Buffalo represent! So, why did you decide to do the Auxiliares de Conversación program?
I transferred programs at the end of my second year of college, so I wasn’t able to study abroad although I had always wanted to. So I applied for that reason, but also because at the time graduation was looming and I was terrified about not having anything set up afterwards! As it turned out, I did end up finding a job in my field which made the decision to go to Spain more difficult than I expected. But I knew if I didn’t go abroad now I would regret it in the future, so here I am! I am glad I went through that decision making process though, as hard as it was, because now I’ve consciously decided to go rather than going because I didn’t know what else to do. It’s made me seriously think about why I am making this choice and made me evaluate what I want to get out of my time in Spain!
Thats a really good way to think about it! Do you have any teaching experience, or experience working with kids?
Not too much. I’ve been a teaching assistant for a university level class and taught fencing to kids at summer camp. Between the two I much prefer older students, so I’m glad I’ll be with high schoolers, though I don’t know if that means they’ll give me more attitude!
Yeah, I’d prepare for a little attitude but mostly apathy which is equally frustrating! There are lots of rumors that float around about the pros and cons of the program. What have you heard? Does it worry you?
Mostly I’ve heard about the infamous bureaucracy and associated difficulties, so I’m going in with full expectations about it being frustrating so that I’m mentally prepared. Luckily, I think Madrid has a good reputation for getting paid on time and even if the bureaucracy is infuriating I’m sure it’ll be worth it in the end. I was able to talk to the previous auxiliar at one of my schools and he said it was amazing. The coordinator at my other school has been so helpful and nice over email, so hopefully I won’t have any difficulty on the school end of things.
Well that’s good, sounds like you’ll have a good experience at your schools. What are you most excited about in regards to the program and about living in Spain?
I’m most excited about strengthening my Spanish and just living abroad in general. I do plan on travelling outside of Spain once in a while for a long weekend, but mainly I’m looking forward to getting to know Spain. The regions are all so unique and I hope to visit a decent number of them! Oh, and of course visiting Spain’s numerous archaeological sites since Spain has the 3rd most UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world!
Yeah, come to Mérida, where I’ll be! Lots of Roman ruins! So, what are you most nervous about? What do you think will be the biggest challenge?
Right now my biggest concern is finding an apartment! It’s pretty terrifying to be arriving in in a city I’ve never been to without a permanent place to stay. In terms of more broad concerns, I’m worried that I won’t like teaching as I’m definitely doing the program more for living and traveling abroad than teaching. I have no idea how to teach English but I guess just being thrown into the classroom will force me learn fast!
Yeah you’ll get the hang of it eventually. I’ve found that my mood and attitude starting the day totally affect if I enjoy myself or not while teaching lessons that day. What are you expecting to learn while in Spain?
Spanish! My main goal is to really to perfect my language skills. My grandparents are Puerto Rican and I always wish I could speak to them in Spanish. (Though of course Puerto Rican Spanish and Spain Spanish are two completely different things!). Also learning more about the culture and what day to day life in Spain is like.
Cool! I have Spanish speaking relatives too so I totally know where you’re coming from. Are you familiar with Spain and Spanish culture? What do you think you’ll teach Spaniards about your culture?
Yes! I was a Spanish minor, and last summer I spent a month digging at an archaeological site in Menorca and then travelling a bit in Spain. But I know there’s so much still to learn which I’m excited about!
As for sharing American customs, I’m definitely going to be teaching Spaniards all about Halloween and Thanksgiving – they’re my two favorite holidays and there’s no way I’m not celebrating them in Spain! Now If only I could fit a pumpkin in my suitcase…
Wow, Menorca sounds amazing! Thanks so much for participating, Sam. Good luck with the pumpkin…
Follow along with Sam on her blog, The Road Goes Forever On. As for the rest of you… what will you miss most about home? Are you more excited to travel, or to assimilate into the Spanish culture?