From DC to Spain: Making the Jump!

Authored by:
Katherine S.

Katherine S.

Bienvenidos a Todos!!

Hey hey and happy Saturday! Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Katherine Saunders (but I go by Kat). I’m 30 years old with three degrees in education and I recently resigned from my cushy research job in Washington, DC to become a high school language and cultural assistant in MADRID! Kind of crazy right? Now, I’m sure I should be nervous, and perhaps even a little scared (bye bye nice salary, medical insurance, retirement plan, etc.), but truth be told, I couldn’t be more EXCITED and ready to go!

You might be asking yourself why I’m doing this at 30. Well, let me tell you. I’ve been working in higher education research and policy for the last seven years, the last five in Washington, DC. I’ve collected and cleaned data, evaluated institutional programs and interventions, analyzed federal financial aid policies, advocated for federal policy reforms, and written papers and presented at conferences about student debt. It’s been exciting (and a nice use of my two master's degrees in education policy and higher education leadership), but I recently I found myself getting bored. I found myself waking up and going to work no longer feeling professionally fulfilled. I didn’t feel like I was making a difference anymore and I wasn't sure if research and policy were how I wanted to continue making a different in the field.

Last year I vacationed in Costa Rica and as I sat on the beach, watching the waves, drinking water out of a coconut, I said to myself, there has to be a way to travel, learn Spanish, and find career fulfilment. And then, it dawned on me- teach English abroad, DUH! I'd get to be in the classroom, working directly with students, and in a different country. It was perfect. At the time I was thinking of doing this, my fellow Black and Filipina, Arizona State (go SUNDEVILS), and Harvard classmate Kamalia Alcantara got accepted to teach in Spain with CIEE and I took that as my sign from the universe to do the same. When I got back to DC, I started putting forth actions to my idea and planned for my big jump. Did my parents agree with this decision? At first, not entirely. They were mostly concerned with my student loans (but let’s be real, who isn’t?). But after talking it through with my old man, he did what most fathers do a dropped a few gems that made me comfortable with my decision. And he left me with this, “What would you regret more? Staying in DC, working, and wondering 'what if...', or going to Spain, traveling and getting some experience, and coming back in a few months?”

So here I am a year later, with my bags packed, ready to go. When I was about 24, I heard Oprah say, “Life starts when you’re 30”, and since that day, I had been waiting for this milestone year. What better way to start this decade than by embarking on an adventure teaching in Spain. Ven conmigo en este viaje! Join me on this journey!



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