Becoming a Madrileña

Authored by:
Caitlin-Marie W.

Caitlin-Marie W.

Bienvenidos/as a mi blog! 

My name is Caitlin-Marie Ward. I'm originally from Washington, D.C. (yes there are actually people who are from D.C.) and I've been living in Madrid for almost two months. 

My profile is somewhat different from that of many of the other auxiliaries de conversación, or teachers assistants, participating in this program. My sense is that most participants are recent college grads, whereas I graduated from college almost 10 years ago (when did that happen?!) and have several years of work experience under my belt. While my profile is somewhat distinct from other auxiliaries, I believe my decision to come to Madrid is indicative of a growing pattern amongst my cohorts in the United States. I have several friends who between the ages of 25 and 30 went through a sort of quarter-life crisis and suddenly needed to make a dramatic change, whether that was going back to school, changing careers, or moving to a new country. Networking and "building one's personal brand" became tiresome and pointless when all it would lead to was another job where we lived for Friday afternoons. Something needed to change. Despite reservations from some friends, family members, and colleagues about how this might affect my career or how this experience might look on my resume, I decided to pack up my life in two suitcases (and a duffle bag) and move to Madrid, Spain to teach English. I guess that's the beauty of entering your 30's -- you begin to develop the confidence to live life according to your own rules.

Teaching English in Madrid wasn't a random decision. I had already earned a TEFL certificate from CIEE and had been putting it to use in Washington, D.C. teaching English as a foreign language to adults on a volunteer basis. It was always the highlight of my week. I loved the challenge of creating lesson plans that would push students' abilities without causing them to grow frustrated or discouraged. Even if a lesson didn't go quite as planned, instead of feeling discouraged, I was motivated to identify and make the necessary adjustments so that the lesson would be a success the next time I tried it. There are also very few more gratifying experiences than seeing students enjoy and learn from a lesson you've spent hours putting together.

In life, we are often faced with numerous decisions. We could study this subject or that subject in college; take a job in this city or that city; live in this apartment or that apartment. We weigh the pros and cons, make a decision, and get on with life. Rarely do we feel as if we are exactly where we are meant to be. Yet, this was precisely how I felt in my English classes. And this was a feeling I needed to pay attention to... 


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