By Emma Kobylenski
So I have been teaching English in Spain for over a year now. It really is a dream come true. I won’t lie, there are moments when I am homesick and I miss my wonderful home-country (U-S-A!) but that is one of the great things about this adventure of mine. So in no particular order, let me tell you why I love teaching English in Spain, specifically Malaga.
Location, location, location.
Malaga is a great place to live. It is small enough to not get overwhelmed, but big enough to not get bored. I have easy access to the beach. I am a stone’s throw from the mountains. This is the perfect place for someone who enjoys the outdoors like myself. I can go swimming, kayaking, snowboarding, rock climbing, snorkelling…it’s paradise really.
For people who have time and money to travel, Malaga allows easy access to both Europe and Africa. Last November I went to Morocco, but that is another story. Not only is there an international airport here, but there is also the AVE (high-speed train) which makes travelling within Spain a breeze.
It is also helpful that when I go home, I can find relatively cheap airfare without having to drive to Madrid.
It is funny to think that there was a time when I didn’t know Malaga existed. It’s like a hidden gem among the bigger, more known cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, or Seville. Oh and did I mention the weather is almost perfect all year round?
Specifically my students. Honestly, I love them. They are straightforward, hilarious, and all around excellent people. They are the reason I love teaching. Everyday I am challenged and I am hardly ever bored. Watching them develop their language skills is a very rewarding experience.
Also, living away has let me meet so many different people with so many interesting stories. I like having a varied and international group of friends.
Noticing the many differences between cultures and socio-economic systems has certainly been one of my favorite things. First of all the fact that I don’t need a car is amazing. For some of you, you may be like “What?” but where I am from in the U.S the public transportation infrastructure is nil. I need a car for everything, but now I walk or take the bus to work. The commute is so much nicer.
Teaching English has also created an environment where I have to be hyper aware of the things that I say and how they sound. When your students repeat your accent, sometimes it’s nice, but sometimes it’s a nightmare. My own speech has changed as a result. I no longer say “down(t)stairs” or other regional nuances that make me difficult to understand (when speaking to my students).
Overall, the experience makes me appreciate my own culture so much more. Also, I now understand how difficult it is to move abroad in terms of paperwork (I assume every country has a big ol’ bunch of red tape waiting for anyone who wants to come in). To give you an idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aHEKmuGmiM
The moral of the story is photocopy everything twice and bring a stapler. Fortunately, I had some help from wonderful people and civil servants who made my processing experience much easier.
But not only has my external point of view been affected, so has my internal perspective. Working abroad and not know when I will go home has been challenging sometimes. Starting over from zero is a strange experience where you have to really build your identity without the people who helped create it in the first place. This is both good and difficult. I miss my friends and my family, but I am stronger everyday for it.